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Chapter 8

"Hello. Could I purchase a map including here and Lebanon, Kansas?"

"Sure. The maps are over there."

"…"

"What, you're not able to get your own map?"

"I… don't know how to choose a map."

"It's easy if you know how to read one."

"…"

"What use is buying a map if you can't read it?"

"I thought I could figure it out."

"Okay, well thank your lucky stars you're hot, 'cause if you weren't then I wouldn't teach you."

"…"

"That's a compliment. You say 'thank you', then we move on."

"Thank you."

"Whatever. Okay, Lebanon's pretty close, I think, so it might be on this map. You see we're here – it says 'Smith Center'."

"Yes."

"So we look around the rest of the map for the word 'Lebanon'. Is it big? Small?"

"It doesn't have buses or trains, so I assume it is small. I believe I was told it was 14.3 miles from here."

"Oh, that's actually helpful. Okay, you see this line in the corner? It tells you the actual distance it represents. So this far is a mile. Got it?"

"Yes."

"So if we look for something roughly 14 times that distance away, we're in business."

"…"

"…"

"…"

"Aha! It's here. You see?"

"Yes."

"How're you planning on getting from here to there? You driving?"

"I don't have a car."

"Jesus, you're planning on walking? In Kansas summer?"

"Yes. I was hoping I could also buy sustenance for the journey."

"You better. How much can you carry?"

"I… believe I have a fair amount of muscle. I only have the pockets in this coat, however."

"You can buy a bag, too. Okay, we'll just load one up and see how much you can carry. It's gonna take you, what, six hours?"

"I was told it would be roughly five hours."

"Yeah, so we'll need to make it pretty light. So you'll have to eat and drink in moderation – and definitely nothing salty. Okay, well, here's a bag… I guess take one of the huge bottles of water. It's food that's the problem; fruit wouldn't dehydrate you, but it isn't very filling. Chips would fill you, but they're salty."

"…"

"I guess the best thing to take would be a couple of these protein bars and a sandwich. Then, when you get there, beg someone to feed you and drink, like, a gallon of water."

"Okay."

"Can you carry that? Does it hurt your shoulders at all? If it does, we'll have to take some out."

"No, that's all right."

"Oh, and for fuck's sake, take the coat off. You'll melt."

"…"

"Not literally. Shove it in the bag, it won't weigh that much. Take off the jacket, too; did you come here from Antarctica or something?"

"No, Topeka."

"That was a joke, wise guy. Is the bag still okay?"

"Yes."

"Okay, given you don't seem to understand climate, I'm just gonna invade your personal space here for a second to make you more comfortable when you get out there…"

"What are you doing?"

"Calm down. I'm just rolling up your sleeves and untucking your shirt. Oh, I'll take your tie off and undo a couple of buttons, too. All it does is mean that any breezes you'll get will actually cool you down, rather than just turn your child molester coat into a cape."

"…"

"You don't get out much, do you?"

"I'm not skilled in social interaction, if that is what you're asking."

"Yep, that's it. Okay, now you owe me for all this. I won't charge you for manual labour, even though I've probably just prevented your death. Give me a ten. I'll give you the change."

"Oh, my money is in my coat pocket."

"So get it out."

"Okay."

"…"

"…"

"Fuck, I'll fold the coat for you. Here."

"Thank you very much."

"Here's your change. Get out of here. Don't die."

"I… will try not to."

"And put the change in the bag, dumbass!"

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