Random glanced back at Karen who had a look of panic and disgust like a frightening mask. He pulled over in a turn out just outside of town and Karen bolted out of car collapsed on her hands and knees and threw up in great heaving gasps. Random got out and came around careful not to look to close.
“Are you gonna be alright? Do you need any help?”
She looked up at him helpless and fearful, childlike.
“Where are you taking me? Who are you people?”
“I called your grandmother and got directions back in Fairfax,” Random said flatly, “We are the people you threatened with a toy pistol, or did you forget.”
then she did something that made Random’s heart melt, she rolled over on her back in the dirt, the drizzle drifting into her face, and she laughed great deep hard laughter.
“I am so sorry. It’s not really funny. I really am sorry.” she gasped out as she laughed around the words.
Her laughter was so genuine he found it hard not to join her, but he thought of Lin looking at them and decided it would be to frightening a picture for an already freaked out girl from china.
“Let’s get out of this rain and away from that so I don’t join you in hurling.” he gestured over at the puddle of vomit without really looking at it.
He helped her up and back in the car.
“There’s some food back there if you think you can handle it. How often do you have to take those little pills of yours?”
“Once a day.” Karen answered, “I missed two days, I guess.”
“So you’re all right now? No more weirdness?”
“Where are we?” She asked
“Just outside of Booneville about a coupla hours from your Grammy’s.”
“Wow! I was in such a fog.”
Random pulled the car onto the road and took it easy on the turns.
“Do you remember how you got to Fairfax. Your grandmother tried your father’s house and got no answer.”
“That’s because he’s dead. 5 days ago, he had a heart attack and they came and took him away and I couldn’t handle it. I left. It all gets fuzzy after that.”
“That’s rough. I’m sure your grandmother can help you sort it out.”
“How ’bout some tunes, Man?” Steve suggested.
“Yeh, I’d like to hear some music,” Lin said.
Random fiddled with the buttons and dial and found an oldies rock station.
John Fogerty rang out.
“I see a bad moon risin.
I see trouble on the way . . .
They rode on in silence what more was there to say.They rode on through the afternoon into the evening coming to the rugged cliffs of the Mendocino coast. The radio station faded out just past Philo before they reached the coast. Each rider stared out lost in there own worlds. Random’s world was the road and the line and the slow cars he came up on. He had the Moody Blues’ in his head.
“And you can fly high as a kite
If you want to
Faster than light if you want to
Speeding through the universe
Thinking is the best way to travel.”
He was one with the black snake of the road. He followed the directions up into the hills east of the small town contained on the little point of land. Up a winding just barely two lane road, and finally up a gravel drive to a two story A frame with a glass front facing the ocean. In the back was a tiny cabin made of logs and topped with planks like a Lincoln log house. They all climbed out, and Karen went first up to the door, which opened to arms ending in wrinkled hands golden in the setting sun which had sunk free of the clouds painting the world in an amber glow. Random felt shaky and dazed from the trance of driving.
“Come in, come in! Thank you so much for getting my little Karen here safely. “ The old woman in the doorway was still clinging to Karen, who looked beat and sad.
“Grammy, Daddy’s dead. I came to tell you. I couldn’t stay. I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, honey, don’t you worry. I know. I called your Aunt Martha and she went up to his house found it unlocked. She called the hospital and found out.”
Random felt like he was intruding on this moment and turned to go back to the car to get the food and some things for the night.
“What are we gonna do now, Man?” Steve asked as came back toward the car.
“We’re gonna spend the night and go back around by Diablo tomorrow. I know a little hidden beach down the road by Elk.”
“The Man’s got a plan. Always gotta plan.”
Random laughed out loud and slapped Steve’s shoulder.
“You are one relaxed dude, Steve. You go with the flow.”
“Hey! That’s my motto don’t wear it out.”
Lin came slowly back to the car looking at the sunset over the ocean.
“How wonderful. Are we staying with the crazy lady.”
“Yeah, babe, we’re crashing here tonight and then we are off to further adventures tomorrow. It’s never dull around Man here.”
Random shook his head and rolled his eyes. They all walked back to the house. The old woman and Karen had gone in and they were talking in the kitchen. Karen looked dangerously pale and slumped in her chair with a dazed expression.
“Hello, Thank you so much, but I can’t thank you enough for getting Karen here.” The old woman walked up to Random and held out her bony hand. “My names Lucille, I don’t think we actually introduced ourselves before.”
“Random Anderson, and this is Steve and Lin Chen.” He motioned toward the others who stood in the doorway.
“Well come in, come in. I’ve got some nice ravioli an sauce on the stove and big salad.” She waved them in.
They ate in silence for a while. Karen ate very little and excused herself and Lucille went with her to tuck her in. Lucille came back about 5 minutes later.
“Poor child, she is out like a light. I wonder what all she’s gone through the last 3 days.”
Random never said a word about the toy gun.