Part 14 -
The road ahead was long and flat and empty but at least the sun was rising. Finola’s barely contained tears stung even more as she squinted into the widening sunlight. As much as Ray annoyed her she now wished he was by her side, if only to drive. Pavarotti’s car was new and comfortable and an ease to handle compared to the old jalopy and the ATV but still, it was hard to plan while concentrating on the road. This myopic lifestyle had to stop. The stress of not knowing what might happen next was as bad as being back at school. It was only tempered by the physical freedom. Not knowing what to do next Finola rehashed the events that had led her to this latest road trip.
Pavarotti had been exhausted from his trip and had gone to bed before midnight. Ray was, as usual, in the screening room. Finola stood in the doorway waiting to be noticed. The sound was so loud she needed to shout “Pause it or mute it or something. I have to talk to you”. Ray jumped at the sound of her voice. “I didn’t see you; this Birdman of Alcatraz movie is a trip”. Finola blatantly ignored him as she drummed her fingers on the door jam and tapped her foot impatiently. “You want to talk to me now?” Ray asked with his usual command of the obvious. The look on Finola’s face must have been pained; Ray leapt from the sofa and came to her side. “Are you sick again? We never did take care of your bite problem. I thought it was OK”. Finola assured Ray that she was fine. “I’m just feeling like it’s time to move on”. She ignored Ray’s confusion and plunged on. “I’m antsy Ray; I think we’ve been here long enough’. Ray seemed more and more upset as Finola stuttered to come up with a good reason to leave. “Look! I’m flighty OK! that is it. No other reasons. It is just time to go”. Ray stood up straight and tried desperately not to look forlorn and lovelorn. “I don’t mind you yelling at me all the time Posh, not when you at least make sense. But yelling and demanding just to be yelling and demanding, well – that’s a pile of crap”. Wow! Finola thought. Homeboy goes all militant moron! Good for him. “I’m sorry Ray” she told him softly. “I guess what with Pav being back, I’m feeling like we’re wearing out our welcome. I probably just need some sleep”. She leaned forward and kissed Ray’s forehead and turned away before he could say another word.
After pacing back and forth in her room for a bit Finola realized she had to act. Inaction was the enemy. Doing something, anything, was the plan. She packed her meager belongings into the backpack Pavarotti had given her. It made her smile just to look at it. It was the most vivid purple with huge peacock feathers on it. Pav had called it her right to be bestowed with ‘A Plethora of Purple Plumage’. Finola hated the idea of leaving Pav. She left the light on in her room and quietly slipped into the Photo Shop room. She didn’t want to take anything of monetary value from Pav, she still had most of the cash she had left school with, she just wanted the photo of the little boy in the wedding party. Finola found the photo exactly where she thought it would be. She stuffed it into her backpack and went back out into the main hall. Ray was still in the screening room. Pavarotti was asleep. With the light on in her room she knew that if either of them came out to the hall they would think she was sleeping. Finola only slept when the lights were on.
Finola pulled into the truck stop. It was almost noon, she had been driving since before dawn and needed to stretch and get some food. At one end of the truck stop there was a diner called ‘Cornucopia’. At the other end a bar called ‘Tattletale’. Finola wondered why a bar would be called ‘Tattletale’ when she realized it was ‘Tattle tail’ and it wasn’t a bar it was a strip club. She laughed at the silliness of men and headed for the diner. She was in the mood for pancakes.
Ray had to shout over the vibration of the washing machine. “Hey Pav, you gonna make breakfast? I have a craving for pancakes”. Pavarotti smiled at Ray and nodded. “Pancakes sound good, I just wanted to get all my trip laundry sorted out”. They headed to the kitchen together. Ray was rambling on about Pav’s movie selection. “I can’t believe how many movies you have. Even the ones I’ve seen before, like Poltergeist, seem different, they look and sound better. Must be that High Digitalized stuff. Right?” Pavarotti had known Ray for a while and found it best to only correct him when it was a matter of safety. Pav smiled thinking of how he had noticed Posh take that same approach with Ray. “Is Posh awake?” he asked Ray. Ray said the lights were all on in her room so she must still be sleeping. “We’ll let her sleep until breakfast is ready” Pav suggested as he laid out all the pancake ingredients. He asked Ray to get the milk by the back door. “There’s a milkman all the way out here?” Ray asked as he set the bottle on the counter. “No” Pavarotti told him, “the milk comes from the cows I keep. Tommy milks them every morning. He leaves me what I need and takes the rest for his family”. Ray was staring at the milk bottle. “Is it safe to drink?” “Of course it is” Pav said. “Why wouldn’t it be?” “I thought it had to be homogenous” Ray answered confidently. “Don’t worry” Pav told him. “The cows are definitely homogenous; this way we skip the factory”. Ray was satisfied with that response.
Finola sat in a booth by the window. This was the first time since leaving Waterloo that she had seen any traffic and she was enjoying watching the cars and trucks come and go. She assumed that by now Ray or Pavarotti had discovered she was gone. Her pancakes arrived, steaming hot with butter melting down the sides.
Pavarotti piled the pancakes onto a large platter as Ray went to call Finola.
A sweet voice cussed softly as her pancakes all ran together. “Lovee you’re making me ruin breakfast. And you know you need to eat soon so you can take your cholesterol pill”. The large RV had to suddenly slow down as it approached the truck stop. “I’m sorry sweetie, didn’t expect traffic. We could just wait and eat at Waterloo”.
Finola – Part 15
Ireland and Ray sat on the back deck of the main house at Waterloo. Ireland was stringing crescent beads together. Ray was fascinated with how fast she worked. He kept blinking and each time he looked again it seemed a whole section was strung. Ireland snipped the ends with a small pair of purple scissors and set her work aside. “Are you making something special?” Ray asked. Ireland shook her head and laughed. “I’m never sure what I’m making until it’s made. This one could become a necklace or a wind chime.” Ray looked impressed and interested. “You sell these?” Again Ireland laughed. “Oh I don’t think they’re that good, not good enough for a person to spend money on. They’re my therapy; they keep my head calm when it’s full of static”. She laughed more, longer and louder. “I used to make these silly favors for Sweet 16 parties. Colored bottles, blue mostly, full of multi-colored sand. I tried selling those. Lovee called it ‘BlueBottle Boondoggle Novelties’”. Ireland could see she had lost Ray. She felt for him, he always looked so lost. Lovee had far less tolerance. “He’s a moronic misanthrope” he had insisted. Ireland laughed at her husband; he loved throwing big words around. She told Lovee the boy was just suffering from a case of puppy love but Lovee wasn’t buying it. “Don’t be such an erudite asshat my love” Ireland said in her sweet voice. “Ray may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but he's clearly mourning a lost love. Stop judging so harshly. You sound like a disapproving father”.
Truth was Lovee did feel a bit like a father, Finola’s father. He had been shocked when Finola ran away; her disappearance had been the catalyst for the trip that eventually brought them to Waterloo. After experiencing nothing but apathy from the authorities Lovee had become livid with rage and decided he would find Finola on his own. He and Ireland were certain Finola’s story about her mother’s broken down car was a fable and they were both worried that she was running from more than she could handle.
On their way north Lovee and Ireland has stopped at a large marketplace. It was the kind of place that sold everything; most people spent the entire day there. After stocking up on all the supplies they needed Ireland suggested a little R&R. Lovee agreed and they decided to just wander along the outskirts of the market. Ireland was wearing a large floppy hat and munching on a cinnamon bun when she stopped short and grabbed Lovee’s arm. “Isn’t that the gentleman we saw at the restaurant last night? The one the waitress said was some mysterious tycoon” Lovee snorted “A tycoon eh? Just happens to be wandering the roadside haunts of the RV crowd. I love you sweetie but you believe too easily and too quickly. That waitress had the brain of a parakeet and the common sense of a hockey puck”. Ireland squeezed her husband’s hand. He always sounded so much more severe than he really was. All bark, no bite – just nuzzling. “You’ll never win Miss Congeniality dear. But if there’s ever a totalitarian state looking for a leader you’re it”. Pavarotti had come up beside them by now He was enthralled with Ireland’s sweet melodic laugh and she was fascinated by his larger than life persona. Lovee thought he looked like a gigantic penguin but if his wife was happy he was happy. They had lunch together and Pavarotti told them about his self made town. They parted ways with Pavarotti extending an open invitation to Waterloo.
Finola’s trail was ice cold and Lovee was becoming increasingly frustrated. After leaving the marketplace they spent the next few days stopping at every small town off the Interstate. Not a single lead. Lovee was so out of sorts that he decided to by-pass a crowded truck stop and drive straight through. Ireland had convinced him that Pavarotti might have connections that could help them find Finola.
“We’re about a half hour out of Waterloo babe”. Lovee didn’t get an answer. “Ireland honey?” “I’ll be ready, I’m just trying to decide which bathing suit hides the cellulite” Lovee knew better than to tell his wife how ship-shape she was. He also knew better than to ask why she was trying on bathing suits. Lovee glanced back into the RV and shook his head. “I heard that” Ireland called out. They were still laughing as they pulled into the strange but delightful town of Waterloo.
Pavarotti was a gracious but distracted host. As best as Lovee could figure out Pavarotti was concerned about one of the young women who lived in the town. Lovee was a very straight forward guy so it was difficult for him to relate to someone as lyrical as Pav. The only other person they had met so far was a young man named Ray. Lovee was not impressed. “We’re stuck here with a guy who talks in haiku and a kid who makes my idiot cousin Mel the Meat Packer seem like a genius. And where are all the people?” Ireland tried to calm Lovee. “Let’s just look around and give it all a chance. Why don’t you try to spend some time with Pavarotti and I’ll talk to Ray”.
Ireland picked up her beading and started a new strand. “So Ray what do you do here?” “I’m just visiting” Ray explained. “I met a girl and we were going on to the big city when I thought it might be fun to stop here. Now I’m sorry we did”. “Why sorry?” asked Ireland. “Well she disappeared. Here I was thinking we were going to have a torrential love affair and she just leaves. Took Pav’s car too”. “Torrid” Ireland said. “Torrid?” Ray repeated. “You said you and this girl were having a torrential … Never mind honey, continue”. “She’s a great girl. Her name is Posh and everything about her is like magic. She …”
“Ireland! I think we found Finola”. Lovee was shouting from inside the house as he and Pavarotti made their way to the deck. “Finola?” Ray asked. “There’s another girl missing?” Lovee glared in Ray’s direction. “Go make a list of homonyms and put them in alphabetical order” he snapped at poor confused Ray. Lovee went to sit beside Ireland. “This girl Posh. She’s Finola. Everything matches”. Ray was afraid to speak and looked to Pavarotti for guidance.
Pavarotti took a deep breath. He really didn’t like all this chaos but he had to take charge. “I think we should assume she’s headed towards the big city. And she’s driving my car so I know what we’re looking for. We’ll leave in the morning”. Ray asked to come along. Lovee whispered to Pavarotti “We leave the insipid idiot here”. Ireland jumped up and took Ray’s hand “Come on sweetie, you and I will hold down the fort here and wait for Finola to be found”.
Ray was glad to have Ireland on his side. “But what about Posh?”
FINOLA - PART 16
FINOLA'S MOM AND GRANDMA ????
Panorama Pendegrass came to the mall nearly every day. She parked at the far end of the lot and took her time walking along the landscaped paths to the entrance. She enjoyed the sound of her feet swishing through the dry leaves. A sudden gust of wind created a shower of falling leaves. Panorama stood still and watched the colors land around her. The mall was quite opulent; the décor was meticulous, with smoky quartz fixtures and marble corridors. The preponderance of trendy upscale boutique shops attracted a clientele of rich bored women, especially during the day.
Panorama made her way down the main corridor. She wasn’t in a hurry but her steps definitely had purpose. She paused for a moment at ‘Disparaging Denim’ – subtle strains of new age music filtered out the door and mountains of jeweled jeans filled the walls. Next door at ‘Lipstick Stain’ several young women were getting makeovers. Their chatter battled with the music for control of the corridor air. Panorama moved on – she turned the corner on to a smaller less trafficked corridor. The old style newsstand caught her eye – ‘Man Bites Dog’ - screamed a tabloid headline. Right above that was a photo of Dina Lohan. “Hmmmm” Panorama mumbled. “Wonder if she’s the man or the dog?”
Panorama had arrived at her destination. She stood in front of the Build-A-Bear workshop staring at the bear in the window. Cathy Bear was wearing a gingham shirt under pink overalls; a glittery purple scarf was attached to her pocket with a small shiny clothes pin. Her sneakers were also purple, tied with silver laces. She was a sweet bear – both fragile and sturdy – very girly but with an aura of purpose and importance.
And she was identical to the bear Finola had cherished as a little girl.
Pickles Panorama Pendegrass tightened her seat belt and took a deep breath. Her skin was in dire need of moisturizing but they would be in Chicago soon, a trip to the bathroom during landing was not only forbidden but would most likely cause her to take a head first flip-flop into the lap of the gentleman in 16e. He was wearing a McCain/Palin cap; for Pickles that alone was enough reason to keep him at a distance. Besides she needed to be in tip-top shape, no sudden flip-flop injuries for her, she was off to find her granddaughter Finola.