Home > The Serial Box > Day Thirty-nine: Road Trip 1

Day Thirty-nine: Road Trip 1

“Don’t get mad.”

Geoff looked up at Anders and felt cold dread in the pit if his stomach. The trip had thus far been one minor disaster after another, and another would just be the end of his patience.

The idea had been simple: Geoff’s parents had a beach house, a beautiful, sprawling, modern thing that they had bought with the inheritance from his mother’s parents’ fortune. It was within view of the beach, and had all the amenities – a huge kitchen, four bedrooms, a living room stuffed with electronics and amusements. There was a huge redwood porch on the beach side and great windows that caught the sunset perfectly. Geoff thought it was a massive insurance claim waiting to happen, but he’d take advantage of it while he could. He and four friends were going to spend the last week of their summer vacation there. One last summer of freedom before jobs and grad school got their claws in them.

It had started out perfectly – a sunny and hot August morning, perfect for a beach trip. Geoff drove across the river to pick up Anders, who was lugging a huge duffel bag towards the car.

“What the hell do you need all that for?” Geoff asked.

“You never know,” Anders said, out of breath. “I have extra towels, some sweatshirts and a windbreaker in case it gets cold, a couple of beach blankets.” He wiped his forehead and then wiped his hand on his jeans. “Some beach games, board games, a pack of cards and my D&D books.” He dropped the bag by the trunk and waited for Geoff to pop it open.

“You sure you didn’t forget anything?” The look of panic on Anders’ face made him wince. “Just kidding, man. I’m sure we’ll be grateful.”

The next leg of the trip was an hour’s drive to pick up Taka. He was already waiting outside his parents’ house, a skinny, shaggy-haired guy kicking a hackey sac around on their perfectly manicured front lawn. When Geoff pulled up, he gave the sac an extra kick, stuffed it in the pocket of his shorts, and jogged to the car. He slid into the back seat, put his bare feet up behind Anders’ head and said, “Okay, let’s go!”

The two in the front twisted around to look at him. “Where’s your stuff?” Anders asked.

Taka spread his arms wide. He was wearing a faded t-shirt, ragged cargo shorts, and nothing else. “Don’t need stuff,” he said. “We’re going to the beach. Got all the stuff I need.”

Anders blinked. “But we’re gonna be swimming and hanging out on the beach. You don’t have a swimsuit? Or something to wear while you dry off? Warm clothes, it gets kinda chilly at night…” Geoff closed his eyes and sighed.

Taka shook his head. “Don’t need all that crap. I can swim in my skin, right? And if my clothes get wet, they can dry while I just hang out!”

Geoff shook his head. “Hell, no, Taka. You’re not hanging out anything. Go get clothes.”

“You’re just being stupid, man,” Taka said. “I do it all the time at home, no one says anything.” It wasn’t just home, either. Anyone who knew Taka for more than a few weeks had a story of walking in on him in his dorm room. The guy had an aversion to clothes that had become legendary on their campus.

“Yeah, well, this ain’t your home,” Geoff said. “Piss off your parents in your own time. We don’t want to see you all swinging in the breeze for a week.” He turned the car off and ostentatiously set the parking break. “Go get clothes.”

Taka groaned, popped open the car door, and ran back to his house. “And hurry up!” Geoff yelled after him. “We’re on a schedule!”

He waited, tapping the steering wheel, for five minutes, then ten. After five more, he told Anders to go up to the house and get him. “If he’s any later, it’s going to seriously screw things up.”

Anders plodded up to the front door and knocked. A few minutes later, Taka burst out, carrying a stuffed laundry bag under one arm. “There’d better be pants in there,” Geoff said when they got back in the car. He didn’t wait for an answer, and they drove off.

As they got on the highway, Geoff handed Anders his phone. “Call Mick and see if he and Pat are on their way.” He glanced at the clock. They should have left by now, but Pat was two weeks in with his new boyfriend, and getting the two of them separated was nearly impossible. Geoff wasn’t sure if the moping would be better than the saccharin that flowed from the two of them. It wasn’t that they didn’t like Chad, really. They just didn’t know him very well.

Maybe Taka can keep Pat distracted, he thought.

Anders covered the phone with his hand. “They haven’t left yet,” he said. “Pat’s crying.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake. Tell him he agreed to this a month ago, we all made sure we could do it, and that Chad will still be there when he gets back. Probably.” He tightened his grip on the steering wheel and changed lanes while Anders relayed the message. Every goddamn time.

After a few minutes, Anders disconnected and put the phone back in the cupholder. “Mick says he’ll get them on the road soon, and to lay off Pat for once.”

“Lay off? I just want to get everyone to the house, dammit, where we can all have the good fucking time we planned on having!”

“Hey, can you turn on the aircon?” Taka asked from the backseat. “It’s hot back here.”

“No,” Geoff shouted. “Open a window!” A moment later, Taka’s t-shirt was tossed into the front seat. Geoff reached over and put the air-conditioning up to full. “There!” he yelled, and flung the shirt back.

“Thank you!”

Geoff tried taking deep breaths and focusing on the beach. It would be great, he thought. Just the five of us, hanging out. Come and go as we please, enjoy the freedom. There were some steaks and wine in the cooler, and the idea of sitting on the porch with a glass and watching the sun go down was just about the most relaxing thing he could think of.

It was only Anders’ terrified shout that broke his reverie and kept him from rear-ending a pickup truck.

Traffic was stopped as far ahead as he could see.

Geoff started at the traffic jam. “You have got to be kidding me.” He looked at the clock again. He had been on the road for nearly two hours, and he had figured that he’d be at the house in another two. Maybe one and a half if they caught a break. The long line of cars baking in the summer sun promised that his precious schedule was just so much dust in the wind now.

He glanced in the rear-view. Taka, shirtless, was sleeping. Anders was looking ahead, trying to spot the end of the jam. “I dunno,” he said. “Looks like no one’s moving.”

No frikkin’ kidding, you giant lump! I can see that for myself, what do you think I am, blind? The ranting in Geoff’s head just got louder. No one’s goddamn moving and we’re not goddamn moving, and we’re never gonna move so when Mick and Pat finally get to the house there’ll be nobody there and this weekend will turn into a legendary catastrophe!

Geoff ground his teeth. “Looks like it, yeah.”


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  1. June 30, 2011 at 9:00 PM

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