An ethanol tanker rolled by and did not stop.
“Of course you know, this means war,” Reginald said as if he had just disembarked from a boat-full of tourists in the French Riviera. He was, in fact, stranded in the middle of Iowa. He thought about raising his middle finger to the small speck of truck that was now long gone, but – the tanker was now long gone.
“Where are we even going?” Linda said. She lit another cigarette and burst into flames. Or so Reginald hoped. He fiddled with his watch yet again for the millionth time. It was now two seconds behind. What next – three? So aggravating. The boys in the physics club would really make fun of him this time. But he wasn’t telling. That’s the problem with the honor system, he thought. He invented a new type of watch and it wasn’t telling time correctly. Not to mention the engine he invented that had just failed. Did he really care? Really?
“Are you coming or not?” he asked and kept two paces ahead of Linda as they walked down Interstate 35. Every few paces, he turned around to face the flow of traffic and put out his thumb.
“Where is Vandamay?” Daisy asked. She said this in an overly concerned, over-worried voice bordering on, yet not quite entering, the realm of sarcasm.
“Just a reminder – I do not eat chocolate,” Todd said to the room at large.
“I thought you were talking to him,” Yooleelee thought she was replying to Daisy, but then kept straining her small portion of pasta. Daisy ignored her. The water was loud. And then she was distracted from trying to avoid crashing into Parkay who was finishing up some kind of jumbled baked thing – a soufflé? Was it a meat loaf? Goulash? Casserole? She didn’t see her put it in the oven. Now Parkay was reaching for some flour. Her elbow barely missed Yooleelee’s chin. She dared not say a thing about it. She would be happy that she had two seconds in the kitchen and there it all went – her elbow nudged, the pasta fell into the garbage disposal.
“If you drop a feather from a tower and then drop a boulder from a mountain and then drop a piece of tree bark from a Ranger station, does anyone hear a pin drop in a bowling alley?” Nathan was asking.
“Is this another one of your nonsense ‘prose poems’?” Todd asked. “Are you calling it ‘Aardvark in Pistachio’ or something fanciful?”
Nathan shook his head. “Seriously, has anyone heard from Reggie – anyone? They were supposed to be back by now.”
“Where is Vandamay? Doesn’t anyone care that Vandy is missing?” Daisy said to no one.
Yooleelee had left and was eating a bag of chips on the balcony.
“I don’t know – you explain so much,” Todd was saying into the phone he just took from Daisy. “I think you probably should show more. Tell less.” He handed it back. Daisy grabbed it and shoved it in her purse, grimacing. Then left the room. “Tell Parkay I’m not eating,” she said.
“Ha! You tell her,” Todd replied.
Cheeny-Bo sat in front of a giant video screen and waved her arms. A sensor triggered a series of channel changes. She paused momentarily to observe and listen to the images and sounds that emerged from the video / sound system. Then she waved her arms again in excited motions. Todd sat next to the child and did his best to pretend she didn’t exist. “What a terrible dirty diaper dungeon,” he thought to himself. “Parenthood,” he mused.
“Somebody clean-up Cheeny-Bo and get her in here so I can feed her!” Parkay barked from the kitchen, her hands covered in dough. “These cookies won’t bake themselves,” she muttered under her breath. Or maybe she thought these words. It didn’t matter. The chocolate chips were going in and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
Reginald decided he really did care. “Linda, I love you,” he said.
“Please shut up,” she said and stuck out her thumb and then waved and waved and waved and waved. Another car flew by at 90mph.
“Ok – what have we found now?” He could make out a few shapes that looked like people and a few other shapes that looked like vehicles of some sort by the side of the highway.
Linda saw these things as well. “I’m going over there,” she said and picked up the pace, marching forward towards the activity ahead.
When they arrived, they found six men in bright yellow vests surrounding two men in orange jump suits.
To Be Continued…