The rest of the state was nothing but a dark blur and a line of headlights. North of us, the sky was alight in the glow of a city. Traces of Cincinnati loomed the distance, we successfully put the past behind us and a destination was within our sights. We rounded the bridge and into Ohio. I received a call from our helmsman in the HHR asking how the cavalier was faring. “She’s growling and is down to an eighth of gas. Pissed off but the bitch will make it,” I could no longer hold my composure. “Did you see that sign? It said Ohio.”
“Yeah it did,” Tears welled up in my eyes and I could sense it in his voice.
“We should go back,” I sniffled as we drove into town. “I think I left my liver there.”
A short forty minutes later, we stepped out of our cars and on to dry solid land of the apartment complex parking lot. Loaded down with only the barest necessities on our backs, a perilous and lengthy search for the keys ensued. We opened the door and crossed the threshold into civilization. The computer was turned on and the couch was found. Photos were uploaded. We did shots of Fluer de Leurs with the surprising dregs of our rum supply and cheered our safe return. “That,” I said breathlessly “was fucking awesome!” Once inside, the heavy sense of guilt and common sense crumbled into a sleepless giddy glee. “We did it! In my car too!” We risked our necks, emptied our pockets, stared down death, abandoned hope and through hard work and solidarity, we were redeemed. “We make a great crew.” The three of us were smelly, sunburned, bug bitten, and bruised. Wild pirates dredged from the murky waters of a Louisiana bayou with booze seeping out of our pores. Accustomed to the streets of the nocturnal French Quarter we were far too boisterous for the small hours of the morning; not ready to assimilate into the rest of mankind, even though Larry Sparrow had to work first shift.
As I finally lay down on the airbed in my crews’ craft room, a sickness crept into my sinus cavities. My body ached, my face swelled and I finally received my punishment. It was the Scottish Munky Flu from stealing the drinks of one such pirate radio DJ who in turn got it from the Scottish Pirate Metal band Alestorm. Despite the flu’s sordid legacy, it didn’t make me any less miserable.
For a week afterward I tried to recover, taking copious pills and drinking vinegar at the behest of a guile and crafty comrade of the Curvy Dogs who swore it would help clear my passages. MAD, Larry Sparrow and I parted ways on a Saturday afternoon. My mates’ were more than likely glad to rid me of their presence, and I set out alone on my solo voyage homeward.
The full moon glowed darting along the horizon line, bouncing brightly off the distant water and casting shadows on the side of the road. Tendrils reached out to pull me in. “Eyes on the road, Bloody Lynne Flynnt. Don’t look at the moon” I said deliriously to myself and savagely bit the head off a gummy worm and drained it’s life force. After an unfortunate detour from Cincinnati to Toledo, my mind and bank account were completely drained and overdrawn. Four hours later I crossed the border into Upstate New York, my home port.
It was rounding midnight when I slammed my bag of candy and the loose change scrounged from the depths of my dirty car on the rest stop counter-top. “I just got back from New Orleans! I need snacks!” I said desperately, fearing for my blood sugar. The attendant took a step back as he caught my wild-eyed gaze.
“I’ve-I’ve never been there, how was it?”
“Awesome, it was for a pirate convention. You couldn’t turn around down there without smackin’ a damn pirate- don’t worry,” I said hastily, realizing I wasn’t there to cause trouble, “I left my pistol in my car.”
The last treads of my sanity frayed and snapped like a dry rotted rope by the time I found a local radio station. I drifted perilously without an anchor for the last forty-five minutes. Sick and exhausted, I docked in the driveway and swam to the front door. “Dog, dog,” I muttered and braced myself in the doorway. The excitable mutt greeted me, bounding and running from couch to couch, rocketing across the living room. “Go back to bed. Nighttime. Nighty-night time.” I abandoned my shoes and ascended the staircase treating it like a sheer cliff face. Clinging to the banister for my life, I pulled myself up the last perilous steps. The black lab ran tight circles around my ankles. I was gone for more than a fortnight and she was as thrilled to see me as I was thrilled to see my own bed. I collapsed face-down upon the mattress snoring, muttering and sickly moaning into my pillows. Lost to my own corner of the world, and quite literally, the corner of my bed for the damn dog commandeered the rest. The following afternoon, I trudged downstairs with my back bowed and eyes swollen half shut with sleep. Unkemptly dressed in the clothes I wore the day before. Easter dinner with the extended family was already in progress, and life resumed as usual.