“Wow, you gave in easy,
” Patch says, then wags a thumb toward the door. “What about that empty house with the dish?” he says. “At least give the doorknob a twist. This is the middle of nowhere. It’s probably not even locked.”
The room is suddenly full of the support group guys.
“This makes no sense,” Stache says, pointing to Patch. “How can he
influence your decisions? This situation occurred before
you knew him. Aren’t we violating the whole…space time continuum or something?”
Bandana agrees, his eyes alive with thought. “You’re like Marty McFly in Back to the Future,
” he says. “Altering past events could change your entire life.” Bandana looks at me, fear in his eyes. “If you do something different this time
, when you return to your tent, you your whole family could have become, like, Mexican or something.”"Wait...so...in the future, everyone is...gay?"
“I don’t think that’s how it works,” I say, “and besides,” I point to Patch. “I’m not taking his advice. Breaking and entering in South Dakota?
For all I know, they give the death penalty for that.”
Patch looks confused. “Do they even have
police out here?” he asks Blackhawk, who shrugs in response.
“Maybe a sheriff,” Blackhawk says.
“Could you guys go away please?” I say. “I’m very close to a legal
solution to my problem.”
The group disappears.
Laura twirls the hat on her finger.
“Folded and in a laundry basket before 6 a.m.,” she says. “I’ll show you where my campsite is. Let’s go.”
“When are we gonna eat, dad?” Edwin groans. I almost forgot about him.
“Five minutes,” I say. “We just have to go with this nice lady somewhere.”
Edwin and I, still toting hot dogs, buns and charcoal, follow Laura to her campsite. The entire way, I thank her profusely. She responds by reminding me to use fabric softener sheets.
Back at the McAllister campsite, Shannon sits stiffly in a fabric chair with her arms folded tight over her chest.
“Where the hell have you been?” she says.
“Just working out an arrangement to watch the game, honey,” I say, handing her a plastic bag. “Here’s dinner. I’ll be back for a hot dog at half time.”
Shannon takes the bag, her face twisted in silent fury.
Having been properly brainwashed into Boston sports fandom, Devlin stands.
“I’m going,” he says.
“No you’re not,” Shannon says, motioning him to sit. “You’re eating.”
With dusk fast approaching, I grab a flashlight.
“So that’s it?” Shannon says. “Our first real camping meal as a family and you’re leaving?”
I freeze. Beside me, there’s Patch in silhouette.
“That’s cold, dude,” Patch says.
“But I want to watch the game,” I say.
“No, I mean her,
” Patch says. “First real camping meal as a family?
That’s dirty pool.”
“I know, right?” I say. “So what should I do?”
Patch puts up his hands. “Space time continuum, man,” he says. “You’re on your own.”
Patch evaporates. I turn to Shannon.
All I can think to do is negotiate, like I did with Laura.
“Ok, how about this,” I say. “You oversee dinner tonight, and I’ll…do all the driving tomorrow.”
Shannon dismisses the idea. “That’s dangerous,” she says.
“Nah,” I say. “I’ll be fine.”
“Just go,” she says. “If you don’t want to be here, I don’t want you here.”
This statement would melt any man possessing a modicum of moral obligation or conscience. Fortunately, I have no idea what modicum
“Ok, thanks,” I say, departing down the white gravel path.
My marginal concern over Shannon’s palpable rage quickly fades as I put distance between me and the campsite. Tonight, like my beloved Celtics of old, I have manufactured success. Tonight, I will watch Game Two in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done.
As I reach the laundry room doorway, my bloated sense of joy and self-satisfaction dies a swift, painful death. Another woman – not Laura – stands before me, loading wet clothes into a dryer. Reading the despair on my face, she halts her procedure.
“What,” she says.
Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
, Chapter 2: Two e-mails
, Chapter 3: Pattern
, Chapter 4: Shattered
, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
, Chapter 6: Suicide
, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers
, Chapter 9: June
, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no
, Chapter 11: DNA
, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches
, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin
, Chapter 14: Game 1
, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?
, Chapters 16 - 17
, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White
, Chapter 19: Pickle
, Chapter 20: Marty McFly
, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers
Labels: chapter 20, marty mcfly, traveling