Karen Wakes Up
Random glanced over at Karen, who had been in a dozing stupor next to him in the passenger seat for at least an hour of winding two-lane highway. Her almost serene expression of drowse had suddenly transformed into a yawning mask of horror and disgust. Quickly, Random pulled the car over in a turn out. Karen bolted out of car collapsed on her hands and knees, retching in great heaving gasps. Nothing much came out. Random, motioning to Steve in the back to stay with Lin, got out, and came around the front of the car careful not to look to close.
“Are you gonna be alright? Do you need any help?”
Karen looked up at him with big eyes blinking, looking comically pathetic and deranged in her Spanish dancer outfit and wild black hair tossing in the damp breeze.
“Where are you taking me? Who are you people?”
“I called your grandmother and got directions to her house in Mendocino,” Random said flatly, “We are the people you threatened with a toy pistol, or did you forget.”
Then she rolled over on her back in the dirt, the drizzle drifting into her face, and laughed, deep and hard.
“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, Random found it hard not to join her, but thinking of Lin and how freaked out she must be already, it would be too much if she looked out and saw him joining Karen in a bout of hysterical laughter.
“Let’s get out of this rain and away from that so I don’t join you in hurling.” he gestured over at the small 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. Before I left, he had a collapsed. They came and took him away.” Karen’s face closed down in a tight grimace, eyes closed, wrestling with the chaos in her mind. After a few seconds, she took a deep breath and continued in a small quavering voice, like a scared child among strangers.
“I couldn’t handle it. All I remember is walking out to the highway. It all gets fuzzy after that.”
“That’s rough. Hopefully 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 the highway without speaking what more was there to say.
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. Now 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.”
Rick and POS Bug
Essie and Maddie meandered up to the market, and stood in the pleasant coolness of the afternoon looking at clouds. Maddie showed Essie a little dance she did when all the world seemed to good to be true.
Rick, a fireplug of a kid, with a large head and peach fuzz framing his baby face, slumped out of the market and stood watching this demonstration, his hands buried in his pockets, shaking his head and smiling.
“Hey, Maddie, whazzup?”
“Weeelll! Thing iz we need a car tomorrow about 2:30ish and we were thinkin’ mebbe you could let us use yours. Jus’ for a few hours.” The last words were a combination of plea and demand with a little look how cute I am thrown in.
“You can’t drive.”
“I can,” Essie cut in, “an’ I can geev you some money?”
“Its and piece of shit. I don’t even know if it will get you anywhere. I ain’t even started the bastard in a week.”
“Let’s go see.” Maddie grabbed him by the arm and whirled him toward the crosswalk.
“Awright, If she starts you can take her, if you bring her back with a full tank.”
They went to his house up the hill and found a rusted 1960 something VW bug of indefinite color. He climbed and cranked the key. It groaned and clanked and turned over sputtering to life in a most inauspicious way.
“Well, there ya’ go. An’ who says miracles never happen to the right people.” He walked around the back of the sputtering bug opened the little flap hood and peered in adjusting something and the rhythm smoothed a bit.
“So we can come by tomorrow and get it.” Maddie asked.
“You can take the key now and come and get anytime. I got school tomorrow and then work. In fact mebbe ya’ otta jes’ take her now. If my ol’ man seez ya’ he might let fly or call the cops or sumptin’”
“Thanks again Rick,” Maddie said leaning over and giving him a little kiss on the cheek, “Your like the brother I never had.”
“Jes’ bring her back in one piece,” He said and slumped of toward the sad little house.
Maddie practically jumped into Essie’s arms shouting, “See din’t I say he was the sweetest guy. Lets go for a drive.”