I exhaled a soft laugh, the kind that only releases air. Sitting there on the the floor in the back room of a convenience store I stared at the roll of toilet paper balancing delicately at the tip of my fingers. Chips of paint in the floor cracked from under the pressure of my boots; this place was dark, this place was old. The role of toilet paper tumbled off my fingers and bounced along the floor, unrolling all the way to the wall where it stopped. My eyes traced the height of the wall to an entire rack of teepee nestled seven feet up. My cheek felt wet; something I hadn’t allowed myself since Fabio cast off.
vina was pacing around in the streets of Old Town Alexandria, a place where pacing in this new world was ill-advised. Things were bleak since our friend left, but nothing prepared her for the heart break of our failed rescue attempt of the guy we came for but never found, affectionately called “Squirrels.” Letting the door slam behind me, vina’s eyes darted up worried, and I tossed her a Hostess cupcake. With a smirk I tried to cheer her up, “at least the end of the world couldn’t even keep these guys down.” She feigned laughter and thanked me even though I knew the cupcake had probably rolled under the Jeep at this point. She always did have better taste than that.
“He’s a smart guy vina, I’m sure he got out of here, I’m sure he’s fi-“
- “Do you remember when we always talked about day tripping the beach, Meeks?”
We were on I95 before the first mixtape finished. So much time had passed since that first day, it wasn’t the dead you worried about anymore; Well… as much. The living proved much scarier. The sun turned the sky orange as it made the trip west, I didn’t much like traveling during the day, populated places like thru-Baltimore became bandit havens. Road blocks scattered across the overpasses. I liked to call it thru-Baltimore because you never wanted to go there, it was rough enough before all of this. Unfortunately thru-Baltimore ended up being more stop-and-go Baltimore because of all the road blocks. Good thing for us it wasn’t worth the trouble for them to freeze at their mock checkpoints at night. We slipped through fast, but most likely noticed.
When her eyes cracked open the sunroof was open and I can only imagine it was the sound of the waves that woke her. Through the windshield she sleepily acknowledged me sitting on the hood of the SUV.
“What the hell, Meeks!” She shrieked when she stepped out into the water and realized the waves were digging the front tires into the sand. I’d practically parked in the shore break.
“Sorry,” I said sheepishly, “I missed the beach.”
The ocean splashed up all over me as I jumped from the hood. Walking around to the back I popped the door open. “The way I figure it, if you can’t have your guy, and I can’t have my girl, then at least we can have something special. I stopped by my parents old shore house and got you a gift. If the world’s gone to shit then at the very least, we’re going to enjoy this shithole.”
I pulled out two surfboards. “You ready for your lesson, Miss Sananikone?”