Georgia knows it's a matter of time before Tawny starts in with the questions. They return from church, and both sit in front of the TV.
“Mommy…Do you love Joe?”
“I care for him, deeply.”
“Have you slept together?”
It shocks Georgia that her precious Tawny asks such an adult question.
“Daddy would want you to be happy.”
The young mother considers Tawny’s words, carefully. Or a little girl’s words who never had a chance to sit on her daddy’s lap or go for a piggyback ride. In fact, Tawny never even had a chance to look into her father’s kind eyes, witness his loving smile, or even hear the sound of his voice.
Georgia looks into her daughter’s innocent eyes.
“Things will come together…In time.”
“I love you, mommy!”
Tears fill the woman’s eyes, while her heart goes out to her only daughter, out to a daughter that bridges a missing link in time.
“I love you, snuggle bunny.”
“Is daddy coming home?”
Georgia’s mind tells her no, but, her gut answers, “I don’t know.”
“Isn’t he dead?”
“I thought so. Now…I’m not so sure.”
“Why hasn’t he come back…If he’s not dead?”
“It is not that easy,” Georgia answers. The bible's gold tongue licks at her memories. “I hardly understand it all, myself. Honey, why don’t we go to the zoo?”
“I’d love to, mommy.”
“Don’t forget your camera.”
“I need a memory card.”
“We will stop by Parker’s.”
“Can I call Sarah and see if she can go—too?”
“If you’d like. Don’t forget your inhaler…Sweetie.”
Georgia picks up the phone and punches in the number to Sarah’s mother. In a way, Georgia is happy to discover nobody answers their phone.
I want a girls’ day out with my daughter, because Tawny is growing up entirely too fast.
She tells her daughter, “Sarah isn’t home!”
Tawny approaches her with a smile, anyway. She loves animals.
“There is a slight chance of rain…. So, we better bring our coats.”
Georgia noisily roots through a cluttered hutch drawer.
“Mom, what are you looking for?”
“A coupon. I know I have one somewhere.:”
“Can we see the hippos?”
“If you’d like.”
“Finally!” Georgia says as she holds up a battered coupon in her hand.
“Can I drive?”
Deep down, Georgia laughs inside. But she knows it won’t be very long before her daughter gets the chance. Heaven help the other drivers. Tawny fights to help secure the steel head of her seat belt. Georgia starts up the car, and they both look out the windshield.
The woman pushes down the accelerator, and the car picks up speed. A semi-truck barrels past and beats them to an on-ramp. As the Dodge enters the highway, Tawny adds, “Slug Bug!”
Georgia notices the VW her daughter labeled.
“You have any boyfriend I should know about?”
“Just Tim. He isn’t really my boyfriend. He’s just a friend that’s a boy.”
“Can I get a hot dog at the zoo?”
“And some cotton candy?”
“If you’re good.”
Tawny smiles, as if she thinks it is going to be too easy.
“What do you want to see…Mommy?”
Georgia thinks, and replies, “I’ll get back to you—on that one.”
The car radio plays a Celine Dion Song. Georgia swears the steering wheel vibrates, before a telepathic wave engulfs her mind. A bible written over the course of about fifteen hundred years echoes inside the steel box, echoes inside the woman’s human brain, and it calls out Georgia’s name—as if it is lonesome. Georgia pulls out a stick of layered flavor chewing gum, plunges it into her mouth, and bites into the hidden juices. After several hard chews, the woman wonders if she had heard anything, anything at all.
The tail man does not believe what he just witnessed, or that the muscle man finally got his due. He picks up his cell and dials Larry’s cell number, to find no answer. Instant adrenaline practically pushes the man from the security of his plain squad car. Instead, the tail man sits back in the comfort of his reclined seat and shimmies as if the willies take over his body. Although he is fueled by a desire to tell the scary story to someone else, he turns over the car’s ignition and pushes the switch to close the car’s window. He reaches over, quickly, and turns off the air-conditioner. Ultimately, he is overwhelmed by the sensation his veins are flooding with ice.
After the initial shock wears off, the man knows he should leave the scene before he is questioned and his cover is blown. He feels nervously drunk as he drives a few blocks south.
He parks in front of a 7-Eleven. The following morning, he will read about a new use for duct-tape in the newspaper.