Chapter 20 Salt Lake City
Before I know it, we are pulling up to another truck stop. This one is like the first stop that smelled like liver and onions. I hope it’s not gross like that. It’s getting dark. My arm doesn’t hurt and my ears have turned back to normal, thank goodness.
“I’ll drop you kids off here,” says Deke. “I’m going to fill up this heap of junk. Then we can meet up with my buddy, Hale, who will take you as far as Orange County.”
“Thanks for all your help, she’s not a piece of junk anymore, Deak.” says Jon shaking Deke’s hand.
“I almost forgot. I’m so used to calling her that. Thank you all so much!” Deak says, scratching his greasy hair.
“My pleasure,” he says. Miles jumps down and shakes Dekes’ hand as well. Wiping the grease from his hand on his pants. “She’s a beauty Deak.”
I check on the moles.
“We need to get out and run around, Princess,” says Myrtle.
“Oh sure, guys, sorry.”
They scurry into my hand and I let them free behind a bench. Louie’s still sleeping. I have to find him some more flies. Miles and Jon are synchronizing their watches. Violet has her head on my shoulder. We are all so tired. I can’t believe we have made it this far.
“Vi?” I bump her head a little to see if she is awake.
“What?” she says.
“Have I told you how much I love you lately?” I smile at her and we hug so tight.
“I love you too, Opal!” She starts to cry. Violet’s shoulders are shaking up and down.
“Aww..” I say.
“But, I’m so tired I can’t freaking stand you right now.” She pulls away from me and lets out a cry that only Violet can. I laugh, trying not to upset her even more. I try to hold back but I start to cry from laughing from exhaustion. I don’t know what. Jon and Miles walk over and start to laugh with us. Jon ends up on the pavement. He looks under the bench. And Myrtle and Gibbons are watching us with their mouths on the ground in disbelief. Myrtle slaps Gibbons on the back of the head and Jon laughs even harder, pointing at them. Before I know it, all four of us are on the ground watching Myrtle and Gibbons laughing. Louie wakes up and spots an earth worm and grabs it with his sticky tongue. Jon laughs even harder.
“Don’t let Louie near the Timesman worms Ha Ha Ha.” He can barely get the words out he is laughing so hard. We all laugh even harder, mostly at Jon, because he is rolling on the ground. His face is getting red, and white froth is forming around his mouth. Miles stops laughing and touches my arm. I look at Miles he seems anxious so I stop laughing. Wiping happy tears from my eyes, I look at Jon. He looks like he is having a seizure or something. I bend down and roll him to his side. His eyes are rolling on the back of his head.
“Jon! Jon!” I yell at him and shake his shoulders. Truckers are watching us and swarm around us.
“He is having a seizure just make sure he isn’t swallowing his tongue.” Violet says, coming right to Jon’s attention. She pushes me away and holds on to Jon, putting her arms around him and squeezing him. Jon calms down he looks like he is breathing normally now. He closes his eyes and is just letting Violet hug him.
“Wow, Vi! How did you know that would work?” I ask her.
“I read it somewhere.” She says slowly, taking her arms away from Jon.
“I’ll get him some water.” Says Miles. “Wanna go?” He gestures to me. I nod my head. We walk into the truck stop. When the door closes, Miles stops me and turns around to look at Jon.
“I thought Jon had Miss Simpson in his basement. I’ve been watching him. I feel horrible. I gave him the watch to keep an eye on him, not so he could keep an eye on you.” Miles turns to look at me. “I’m sorry.” He says, lifting his shoulders up.
“You were just looking out for me, right? I mean, it’s not like you did anything to him. Right?” I ask, hoping he didn’t do anything to poor Jon.
“Not yet!” Miles gives me the half smile grin I always give him. He bends down to kiss me. “I’m glad he’s not a creeper. I kinda like Jon now.” He giggles.
“Oh now! You kind of like him now!” I punch him in the arm. Miles put his arm around me and we walk to the cooler for some water.
Jon is sitting up when we get back outside. Myrtle is on his shoulders, trying to console him. It’s so cute. Gibbons is rubbing his head.
“Here man, you ok?” Miles passes Jon a water bottle.
“Yeah man, thanks. I don’t know what that was.” He drinks the entire bottle down quickly.
“Careful not too fast.” Says Violet. “It’s ok! You ’re exhausted, hungry, dehydrated, any of those things can bring on a seizure especially in this heat and altitude.” Violet put her hand on Jon’s wrist, taking his pulse.
“You ok Bud?” Deak says. “You got a critter on your back.” He bands down and swats at Myrtle. She flies off Jon’s back and lands right on top of Gibbons. Gibbons shakes his head from the fall. And hugs his wife. Myrtle gets off of Gibbons and it looks like she might hit him in the head but hugs him instead. Everyone disperses from the scene, and Miles helps Jon up.
“Vi, you ’re going to be a Dr. someday.” I smile at Vi.
“No, I’m not, I’m going to be a biologist.” She smiles back.
“C’mon guys, hurry! Gibbons! Myrtle!” I whisper loudly and put my hand down under the bench. They hop on and I put them in my backpack just in time. Deak is talking to a trucker friend, so he is not noticing.
“Ok, kids, let’s see if Hale is inside,” says Deke, putting out a cigarette. “And you’d better get something to eat and take a bathroom break, too. Hale doesn’t stop unless he needs gas and that could be not until tomorrow morning.”
“Good to know,” says Jon.
Walking inside, it looks very similar to the first stop: restaurant, gift shop and locker room.
“I don’t see him here, yet,” says Deke.
He walks around and disappears behind a rack at the gift shop.
“I need to go to the bathroom.” I say to Jon.
“Me too,” says Vi.
“You watch out for them I’m going to look around.” Miles says to Jon.
The restroom (gross), Vi and I meet Jon at the restaurant, nothing funny-smelling, thank goodness. Jon is sitting at another booth by the window. I’m glad we’re by the window. I’m hoping to find a few flies for Louie. Sure enough, just as I sit down, there are three flies spinning around. I grab one by the wing and wave in front of Louie’s nose. He opens his mouth like a baby and I drop it in. He chews slowly. Then I do it again with fly number two. The last one I put in my pocket to save for later.
“Good thing, bad thing?” asks Jon.
I put my hand up to my face and rub my eyes. “Um, hungry and tired.”
“Really?” asks Jon. “Mine is you and I need a shower.”
“Ha ha,” I laugh.
“Hi, ya’ll. I’m Nancy. I’ll be taking care of you this evening. Anything to drink?” Says the server who appears, almost magically, at our table.
Wow, she is nice! Jon and I and Vi look at each other and try to stop laughing since the last server was so miserable.
“Just water, please. And maybe some French fries?” I add. Looking around for Miles. “Can I get an extra water too please?”
“Ok, sounds good,” she says, writing on her pad.
“Hm, that was not expected, she is so nice compared to the last server.” I say.
Jon grabs my hands from across the booth.
“Almost there,” he says, looking at me differently.
He’s gazing at me. I feel embarrassed. I can feel my face getting red and blushing.
“You’re so beautiful, Opie.”
“Guys enough.” Violet says, getting mad. “Plus, Miles is at the counter watching you.” We all look over at Miles when he knows we can see him. He comes over and sits down next to me.
“Nice costume freak.” Says a man sitting in a booth behind us. Miles rolls his eyes and ignores him.
The server, Nancy, brings our waters.
“Aren’t you two cute,” she says. Looking at Miles and I. I blush.
She puts down a bowl of creamy sauce that is pinkish.
“What’s this?” Violet asks.
“Fry sauce,” she replies.
“Does it have sugar in it?” Jon asks, looking at me, smiling.
I blush again.
Then Deke comes over with a large, tall man, interrupting our conversation with Nancy. He’s wearing a jean jacket and brown pants that hang past his waist. He’s got huge boots that seem to reach up to his knees. He’s wearing a baseball cap backwards. It’s red and faded. He has a beard and mustache that isn’t shaped. He looks like he hasn’t shaved or showered in weeks. Kinda smells like it too.
Deke introduces us. “These are the kids I was telling you about; this is Hale.”
Hale just nods his head once and then sniffs a few times and itches his eyebrow. I try to smile. Jon lifts his hand to shake, but Hale just looks at him then looks out the window.
“Black truck,” is all he says. “I’ll be out front in thirty minutes.”
“You’ll have to ride in the back I don’t want any marks on my truck.” Hale says right to Miles.
Then he turns around and walks back to his seat.
“Don’t worry, he won’t ask and he won’t tell. Either will I. We see a lot of stuff truckin.” We all look over at Hale. “He’s alright, just been truckin a long time,” says Deke. “Take care, kids.”
“Thanks Deke” We all say.
“Stay safe, kids,” he says as he walks away.
Nancy brings our fries and we try the fry sauce.
“Yum,” I say. “This isn’t too bad.”
“It’s a Utah specialty,” says Nancy.
Hale’s truck is huge. It’s all black with fish on the side. The front has a big silver fish on it.
“This here’s Bertha. Treat her right; she’ll be good to you. We don’t stop until morning,” says Hale getting in his truck.
Miles and I just look at each other. As Hale opens the back for him. Hale stares at his sharp wings.
“Ok, guess I’ll be sitting by Hale,” says Jon as he opens the door.
“Yes, you will,” Violet says.
The sun is just fading along the mountains as we get on the highway. I check on the moles and pass them the pint of sugar I bought for them. They say thanks and nestle in the bed they made. Hale turns on some country music and we are on our way. I pass Jon and Vi an apple and I rub mine along my sweatshirt arm to make it shiny. They taste better that way. I offer one to Hale, but he just grunts. I hope Miles is ok in the back.
“Ahhh,” yells Jon. He fell asleep and leaned over on Hale and Hale pushed him back.
“Oh, sorry,” Jon says.
Hale just grunts.
“He’s scary,” Violet whispers.
“More creepy than scary,” I whisper. “But he’s helping us so I’m thankful.”
Jon puts his arm around me and puts his head on my shoulder this time, and goes back to sleep. I’m tired too. Louie’s awake. I give him the last fly I had. It was pretty dead, but he took it anyway.
“How are you feeling, little guy?” I think to him. “Much better, Princess, thank you,” he thinks back
I rub his tummy and look out the window. It’s really dark. The moon is shining, but it isn’t quite full yet. The stars are gleaming. I wonder how many planets there are. I wonder if Omynora is a planet. Where am I really from? I have so many questions that are right on the front of my mind. I have so much to do in such a short time. The road right now seems so long.
I hold Jon’s hand tightly. I wish we were in Orange County already, on the pier we found on the map. I visualize the map and the pier and Miles and Vi and Jon and me, and Louie and the moles, all at the end of the pier looking down. I open my eyes, but we are still in the truck.
“Oh well,” I think. It was worth a try.
I close my eyes and fall asleep with my head against Violet’s shoulder and Jon’s on mine.
The door slams and we wake up. Hale’s gone. We are at another gas stop. We get out of the big black truck. It’s really warm. I put my sweatshirt around my waist and we walk into the truck stop. Miles comes around the corner. I don’t see Hale anywhere. This place is the same as all the rest, but it smells different.
“Get some food; we leave in fifteen minutes,” says Hale, walking by us.
“Ok, that doesn’t give us much time,” says Violet.