Hour Twenty

I’m sitting in the first bedroom with Lacey. Ben drives. Radar’s navigating. I was asleep when they last stopped, but they picked up a map of New York. Agloe isn’t marked, but there are only five or six intersections north of Roscoe. I always thought of New York as being a sprawling and endless metropolis, but here it is just lush rolling hills that the minivan heroically strains its way up. When there’s a lull in the conversation and Ben reaches for the radio knob, I say, “Metaphysical I Spy!”

Ben starts. “I Spy with my little eye something I really like.”

“Oh, I know,” Radar says. “It’s the taste of balls.”

“No.”

“Is it the taste of penises?” I guess.

“No, dumbass,” Ben says.

“Hmm,” says Radar. “Is it the smell of balls?”

“The texture of balls?” I guess.

“Come on, asshats, it has nothing to do with genitalia. Lace?”

“Um, is it the feeling of knowing you just saved three lives?”

“No. And I think you guys are out of guesses.”

“Okay, what is it?”

“Lacey,” he says, and I can see him looking at her through the rearview.

“Dumbass,” I say, “it’s supposed to be meta physical I Spy. It has to be things that can’t be seen.”

“And it is,” he says. “That’s what I really like — Lacey but not the visible Lacey.”

“Oh, hurl,” Radar says, but Lacey unbuckles her seat belt and leans forward over the kitchen to whisper something in his ear. Ben blushes in response.

“Okay, I promise not to be a cheese ball,” Radar says. “I Spy with my little eye something we’re all feeling.”

I guess, “Extraordinary fatigue?”

“No, although excellent guess.”

Lacey says, “Is it that weird feeling you get from so much caffeine that, like, your heart isn’t beating so much as your whole body is beating?”

“No. Ben?”

“Um, are we feeling the need to pee, or is that just me?”

“That is, as usual, just you. More guesses?” We are silent. “The correct answer is that we are all feeling like we will be happier after an a cappella rendition of ‘Blister in the Sun.’”

And so it is. Tone deaf as I may be, I sing as loud as anybody. And when we finish, I say, “I Spy with my little eye a great story.”

No one says anything for a while. There’s just the sound of the Dreidel devouring the blacktop as she speeds downhill. And then after a while Ben says, “It’s this, isn’t it?”

I nod.

“Yeah,” Radar says. “As long as we don’t die, this is gonna be one hell of a story.”

It will help if we can find her , I think, but I don’t say anything. Ben turns on the radio finally and finds a rock station with ballads we can sing along to.

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