“Just two more emails,” I say.
“It’s almost 11,” she folds her arms.
“Won’t have to open the laptop for days,” I assure her, “if I just get these done. Honest.”
Karin troops off to the bedroom, and I finish the messages. I see a half-finished thank-you note to my family. I scribble another sentence and my name.
“Where’s the stamps?” I ask.
“Since when do you postage for email?”
“Oops.” I’m busted.
Karin appears with the stamps, shaking her head. “Do you want to do this trip?”
“Yes. I. Do.”
I hustle to the bedroom, toss my clothes in the suitcase. Zip it, and drag it into the hall.
Karin looks at me, and we start for the front door. Then I stop.
“Oh… Shaving kit,” I point to the bathroom.
She sighs. “Really?”
“Just take a second,” I answer, handing her my keys and dashing to the bedroom. I see two novels, a book light and my glasses. Can’t leave without a ‘good read’ or two, so I grab them.
Back in the hallway, I open the suitcase and cram it all in. Karin’s off to the car. I peek in the hall closet, trying to find my coat.
It’s not there.
I hear Karin start the car.
I look in the bedroom, and then back in the office, where I see that two more emails have popped up. Better take a quick look.
From the driveway, over the sound of the engine, I hear. “ROBB, WHERE ARE YOU??”
“Looking for my coat.” I yell back.
“It’s out here already.”
“Oh. OK,” I shout, while typing “Talk to you next week.” I hit ‘send,’ am I’m free before the search party arrives.
Back to the car, and into the driver’s seat. I reach for my coffee mug… It’s still in the kitchen.
I flash a smile at my wife. “Like a cup of java?”
“Not really,” Karin says.
“Mind if I get one?”
Silence from the passenger’s seat.
“It’s already brewed.” I promise.
“OK. OK.” Karin shakes her head. “Long as you don’t mind driving at night.”
I run back into the kitchen. The pot is almost done. I sneak into the bedroom and notice a box of chocolates I’d wanted to bring. I grab that, go back, and pour up two coffees. I carry the armful of stuff to the car, sit down, and realize I haven’t locked the front door. I shut off the car and remove my keys.
“What now?” Karin asks.
Sheepishly, I hold up the house key and point towards the front door. Then, I scramble out of the car, though the unraked leaves, back to the house, lock it, and dash to the car, jump it, buckle the seat belt, and look at Karin, who is still shaking her head.
“Ready?” I ask?
Karin rolls her eyes, but we’re on the road… almost. Then I flip open the glove box.
The GPS is missing—our daughter borrowed it.
Not daring to make eye contact, I say, “Do you have your Garmin?”
“Not on me.”
It’s now 11:15. We’re approaching the end of the street, ready to hit the main highway. I can drive on, but then I’ll have to find my way through San Francisco to our location—a place I’ve never been.
I slow the car…
“Mind if I …”
“It’s in the center console,” Karin says.
I make a U-turn, run to her car, grab the GPS, and dash back, sliding in the gravel like a runner stealing home.
“Thanks,” I take a deep breath. In motion again, we’re at the end of the driveway.
“Did you lock it?” Karin asks.
“Back up,” she says, fishing out her key fob.
I throw my car into reverse, zooming up behind hers. She clicks, her car blinks in surprise, gives an annoying beep, and then—I swear—her Subaru looks at me with disappointment.
“OK.” Karin nods. “Now…. Can we GO?”
“Just waiting for you,” I say.
Her eyes narrow. “Funny . Very funny.” But she’s not smiling.
We’re on the main highway. I notice the fuel gauge.
Not enough to get us there, but should I buy gas now? It’s cheaper. Buy it here, and we can drive non-stop—a plus if Karin’s napping.
“How about we top off?”
“You didn’t fill the car this morning?”
“Ah, no.” I admit.
“You went to the grocery store….”
I don’t know if this is a question or a statement. It’s true. I passed the filling station, grabbed milk and food to hold the kids over while we’re gone. But I forgot gasoline. Better yet, I look down and see DVDs on the floorboards, waiting to be returned.
“We can gas up after we drop off the videos,” I say.
I don’t hear a peep, other than the sound of grinding teeth.
So we do a drive-by drop off, throwing the videos out the window, more or less, and I fill up with all the efficiency of and Indy-500 pit stop.
Errands accomplished, we head south, clearing the edge of town.
One mile, two miles, click off, and Karin relaxes. She smiles, and says. “When was the last time we got three days off together?”
“We’ll be gone THREE days?”
Karin stops smiling. “I said I had the rest of the week off.”
My mind races back to the desktop, and a stack of bills. I nod and purse my lips.
“Is that a problem?” Karin asks.
“Just one thing…. I was going to do Friday.”
She sighs. “Really?”
“Yeah, a payment. Thought I’d save postage and drop it off at the bank… on Friday.”
“Well not yet, I think… I’m not sure.” I admit. “But soon.”
“Well, then, take care of it,” Karin mutters. She looks pale.
I make a U-Turn, and go back to the bank.
“At least it’s on this end of town.”
“Still want to go?” I ask.
“Don’t press your luck,” she says.
“We did make it out of town.”
She stares straight ahead. I see her jaw muscles flexing.
Three miles back up the road, I enter the bank, make the payment… which was due in two weeks… and I’m back in the car. Karin’s on the phone. I greet her, and she holds up her hand.
“Bad connection,” she whispers. “Don’t pull out.”
“OK,” I say, and MY phone rings. It’s the kids, asking if we’ve on the road.
“Almost,” I say, “Just waiting for your Mom to get off the phone.”
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County.