By the time we came home from Rio, Nicky and I were best of friends. We both enjoyed traveling so we wasted no time and decided the next place we would go would be Miami, Florida! In those days, MIAMI VICE was the hottest show on TV, which made us want to do a little undercover investigating of our own! Neither of us had ever been to Miami, so we weren’t sure what to expect but one thing was for sure - when Nicky and I were together, strange things happened!
We split up the details – Nicky handled the room arrangements and I handled the rental car. The craziness started right at the Hertz Car Rental at the Miami airport – the problem …neither of us spoke Cubamerican! The girl behind the counter was pleasant enough, she smiled a lot and was cheerful as she filled out all the rental paperwork, but the problem emerged when she said what sounded to us like, “Ju see 18.”
We both said, “What…” in unison.
She smiled, pointed her finger towards the parking lot this time and repeated, “Ju see 18!”
Slightly confused, Nicky and I thanked her and started walking out the door in the general direction of where she pointed. We were stoked when we looked down in the very first row of cars and saw numbers painted on the floor in front of each spot …16 …17 …18! Voila! That was easy …too easy, as it turned out!
The first thing that should have sent a red flag up was the fact that I ordered a sports car but the car in spot 18 was a Buick Le Sabre. Not only that, but it was dirty on the outside and the tires looked worn. I went back in and asked where my sports car was, but the girl just shrugged her shoulders without looking up from her computer monitor and said what sounded like, “We ran out.” There was a line of people in front of her by then, so that was all the answer I was going to get from her. I was peeved but not enough to put a damper on our first visit to Miami, so I went back out to the car only to find even more oddities. The driver window was slightly rolled down, the door was unlocked and there were ashes in the ashtray but the weirdest of all was that the keys were not sitting atop the driver-side sun visor, like the girl said they would be – they were in the ignition! Curious, I thought as I popped the trunk. As soon as I did, Nicky called me to the back of the car.
Nicky: “g, look at all this stuff!”
The trunk was filled with junk - someone’s things – including baby things! I thought about going back in to tell the girl, but the car rental line had gotten incredibly long, so instead Nicky and I thought we could reason a solution. We figured, the stuff was dirty and looked like junk to us, so it probably was left there on purpose! We thought about removing all of it but the boxes were heavy and there would’ve been no place to put it, so we decided to just leave the junk in the trunk and throw our bags in the back seat …which also had junk on it! We were focused on having a good time though, so we just jumped in the car and I took off while Nicky fiddled on the radio.
Right before we pulled up to the exit complete with a guard shack, Nicky found a heavy metal station with Van Halen playing on it, so he turned it up! We were head-banging to “And The Cradle Will Rock” for only about five seconds when we heard a super-loud POP and then …nothing! Apparently, we either blew the car’s speakers or we fried the radio. That’s when we finally lost it… what kind of non-sense was this! They give us this dirty, old Buick Le Sabre filled with junk, a dirty ashtray and now the radio doesn’t work …well, that last one was on us!
We paid no mind, at first, to the security guard – a very stern looking, large African-American lady who seemed to be less amused than we were. As I came to a stop, she seemed to stare at the car in disbelief. Nicky and I were thinking, alright, at least the security guard is on our side about the condition of this rent-a-wreck! As it turned out that wasn’t exactly the case…
Very agitated Security Guard lady: “Will you two gentlemen please step out of the car!”
We were a touch confused but we thought, okay, this security lady looks like she’s gonna straighten things out!
Nicky and I started to freak when we heard the security lady say the words, “stolen vehicle” into her walkie-talkie!
After about twenty very stressful minutes for everyone involved, we realized that the girl behind the counter speaking Cubamerican didn’t say, “Ju see 18,” she said, “Yours is in C-18!” We found out that the first row of spots (the only row WITHOUT a letter before the number of the spot) were for employees. Apparently we took off in one of the female employee’s car and in the process we blew her radio!
Needless to say, the Hertz people weren’t too thrilled with us after that. So, to repay us for almost stealing one of their own vehicles they thought it was only fair to rent us, what I still refer to as “an old retired doctor’s car” – a burgundy 1986 Buick Roadmaster.
So, while Crockett and Tubbs were stylin’ all over Southern Florida with their Ferrari Testarossa and Ferrari Daytona Spider, Nicky and I looked like two teenagers who got lend of their retired-to-Miami, Jewish Chiropractor dad’s burgundy Roadmaster. We figured we would try to minimize the humiliation by ducking down low in our seats until we arrived at the place Nicky hooked up for us – a beautiful 2-bedroom condo with wrap-around balcony, up on the 16th floor overlooking Biscayne Bay.
Smiles returned to our faces as we pulled into the Palm Bay club – it was everything Nicky said it would be and more! Besides, all the weirdness that happened at the rent-a-car place was all behind us now …or was it?
(Continued… Part VI, “Miami Vice Nicky & g style! Part II” will appear on Friday, March 19)
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Dean Wesley Smith