South Into the Storm
Ominous black clouds loomed in the southern sky and a chill wind blew. Random went to the back of the car and pulled out his jacket. He got in and roared off for the freeway south. He found an apple in the jacket pocket and realized he had hardly eaten. He ate the apple while negotiating the freeway onramp and on around past Daly City. A feeling of panic was rising in him little by little. He tried to examine it, but he could not get too close without it vanishing like smoke, drifting away staying just out of reach. As he passed Millbrae he began going through all that had happened in the past four days and trying to make some sense of the dreams and real life weirdness. By the time he reached Burlingame he had thought about how it all had to do with the black bird and dreams and little visions. As he passed the off ramp east to San Mateo, he passed by the thought that he was being manipulated by some power, but his love for Essie was more important than the feeling of annoyance at being used like a pawn in some game of spiritual chess. He passed the City reservoir, Crystal Springs, and realized he was driving along the San Andreas Fault. Golf courses sprang up to the left. He was passing Stanford University and a sign for The Veterans Memorial Cemetary and Page-Mill Rd. He realized the engine was straining and looked at the speedometer. He was doing 90 and coming up on cars very fast. He slowed to 60 as he started to hit the afternoon traffic around Sunnyvale and Silicon Valley.
The Cowgirl Princess Meets The Prince of Darkness
Maddie bounced and swayed and rattled with the rhythm of creaking bus. The dark clouds gathered in the sky among the white puff sheep of the morning and a wind began to bring the smell of electricity and damp bluster. The bus stopped with a whoosh and squeak of the air breaks. Maddie was the first one out flying off the second step landing on the toe of her clunky combat style black boots. The first large drops of rain hit as she landed, big plashing drops that thudded to earth, but widely spaced like water bombs.
She wore cow spot tights and a leopard print skirt topped off with a bright pink t-shirt and baby blue cowgirl vest covered in plastic gems and sparkles that spelled princess across the back. She made this herself. She carried a man’s gray overcoat. Even after Essie’s description this outfit took Jered by surprise.
Maddie had her hair in short pipi longstocking braids tied at the ends with mirror ball hair ties.
As she ran the sun peaked out from the gathering clouds and touched the ends of her braids with sparks. She was almost as tall as Jered but thin. She looked like a combination of a cowgirl princess and Olive Oil from the Popeye cartoons. She clumped gracefully up to Essie.
“Who’s the guy? He looks like Beezlebub hisself.”
Essie looked at Jered with his handsome, but rough around the edges look and stylish Italian driving shades.
“Dees is my friend de dark prince.” Essie laughed, “Otherwise known as Jered Trolleski, my ex-husband.”
Jered laughed and held out his hand, “And you must be the cowgirl princess.”
“Otherwise known as Maddie Bolter.” Maddie finished taking his hand and nodding.
“Well shall we go?” Essie motioned toward the car.
”In this, Sweeet. Is this a real Porsche?”
“Yeah, real italian very small so good luck squeezing in the back.”
“I’ll squeeze in the back,” Essie said “I’m more the right size.”
“This is a whole lot better than that ol’ crappy bug without the headlights. That is for sure.” Maddie emphasized.
“It’s actually my father’s car, officially. I just drive it a lot.”
“What does your father do? Mine drinks and fights a lot.”
“Mine makes clandestine deals in the black heart of the corporate conspiracy.”
“So you are the prince of darkness,” Maddie said casually “And I am the cowgirl princess because my life is like a sad country-western song,” Maddie continued working it out as she went and then exploding into laughter as all the pieces fit.
The rain came down a little closer and the dark clouds herded their lighter cousins on across the sky.
Jered pulled the Porsche out on the highway and roared through town, but ran into the bus about 3 miles down the road with its stop sign out and had to wait another 2 miles to pass. Finally Jered whipped the Porsche out on a straight piece of road and passed the bus just getting back before a Christian school van ran headlong into them because the driver was looking around behind him. He looked up just in time to see the black blurr of the car shifting out of his way and a spray of water hit the side of his windshield.
Jered did not even blink, but took the road as if he had driven it many times. They got to the gravel road and had to creep along due to the extra weight of Maddie in the car the bottom was just about on the road.
“The suspension is shot. It will be a miracle if we don’t put a hole in something down there.” Jered said but not complaining.
By the time they got to the gate and the heavens had opened and cats and dogs and buckets too poured down on them.
The gate was open and they slipped and slid a little down the dirt drive to the house that had turned into a stream of chocolate milky looking liquid.