Hour Ten

It is time for our second stop. It is 12:13 in the morning. My fingers do not feel like they are made of fingers; they feel like they are made of motion. I am tickling the steering wheel as I drive.

After Radar finds the nearest BP on his handheld, we decide to wake up Lacey and Ben.

I say, “Hey, guys, we’re about to stop.” No reaction.

Radar turns around and puts a hand on Lacey’s shoulder.

“Lace, time to get up.” Nothing.

I turn on the radio. I find an oldies station. It’s the Beatles. The song is “Good Morning.” I turn it up some. No response. So Radar turns it up more. And then more. And then the chorus comes, and he starts singing along. And then I start singing along. I think it is finally my atonal screeching that awakes them.

“MAKE IT STOP!” Ben shouts. We turn down the music.

“Ben, we’re stopping. Do you have to pee?”

He pauses, and there’s a kerfuffle in the darkness back there, and I wonder if he has some physical strategy for checking the fullness of his bladder. “I think I’m okay, actually,” he says.

“Okay, then you’re on gas.”

“As the only boy who has not yet peed inside this car, I call first bathroom,” says Radar.

“Shhh,” mumbles Lacey. “Shhh. Everybody stop talking.”

“Lacey, you have to get up and pee,” Radar says. “We’re stopping.”

“You can buy apples,” I tell her.

“Apples,” she mumbles happily in a cute little girl voice. “I likey the apples.”

“And then after that you get to drive ,” Radar says. “So you really gotta wake up.”

She sits up, and in her regular Lacey voice, she says, “I don’t so much likey that.”

We take the exit and it’s.9 miles to the BP, which doesn’t seem like much but Radar says that it’s probably going to cost us four minutes, and the South Carolina traffic hurt us, so it could be real trouble with the construction Radar says is an hour ahead of us. But I am not allowed to worry. Lacey and Ben have now shaken off their sleep well enough to line up together by the sliding door, just like last time, and when we come to a stop in front of the pump, everybody flies out, and I flip the keys to Ben, who catches them in midair.

As Radar and I walk briskly past the white man behind the counter, Radar stops when he notices the guy is staring. “Yes,” Radar says without embarrassment. “I’m wearing a HERITAGE NOT HATE shirt over my graduation gown,” he says. “By the way, do you sell pants here?”

The guy looks nonplussed. “We got some camo pants over by the motor oil.”

“Excellent,” Radar says. And then he turns to me and says, “Be a dear and pick me out some camo pants. And maybe a better T-shirt?”

“Done and done,” I answer. Camo pants, it turns out, do not come in regular numbered sizes. They come in medium and large. I grab a pair of medium pants, and then a large pink T-shirt that reads WORLD’S BEST GRANDMA. I also grab three bottles of Bluefin.

I hand everything to Lacey when she comes out of the bathroom and then walk into the girls’ room, since Radar is still in the guys’. I don’t know that I’ve ever been inside a girls’ bathroom in a gas station before.

 

Differences:

No condom machine

Less graffiti

No urinal

 

The smell is more or less the same, which is rather disappointing.

When I come out, Lacey is paying and Ben is honking the horn, and after a moment of confusion, I jog toward the car.

“We lost a minute,” Ben says from the passenger seat. Lacey is turning onto the road that will take us back to the interstate.

“Sorry,” Radar answers from the back, where he is sitting next to me, wiggling into his new camo pants beneath his robe. “On the upside, I got pants. And a new T-shirt. Where’s the shirt, Q?” Lacey hands it to him. “Very funny.” He pulls off the robe and replaces it with the grandma shirt while Ben complains that no one got him any pants. His ass itches, he says. And on second thought, he kind of does need to pee.

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