Sylvia loaded a dress bag and a small black half duffel bag like mine into the trunk. We were on the main road out of town, headed north, by 8pm. I engaged Sylvia in conversation as I drove the big clumsy car in a northerly direction. We spoke about nothing just to fill the air with noise. People often do that it seems.
At the first stop for gas Sylvia raided the prepared food cooler which was located inside the convenience store part of the building. When I hit the road again she was juggling drinks and prepared foods of different kinds.
“I love America, we had none of this where I grew up,” she explained.
“So you are determined to try everything?” I asked.
“These chicken things are actually quite good,” she informed me. “Are you sure that you don’t want to try them.”
“No thanks, I had a burger before we left the store.” I had indeed choked down a half cooked hamburger with a coke. It was not enjoyable at all probably because I didn’t have any fond memories like it to pull up from the muck that was my past. It seemed that there had never been anything pleasurable about half heated, stale burgers, and almost warm coke from a plastic bottle. I had a feeling that it would be the same when I pulled up a MRE memory when next I tried one of those.
We were several hundred miles into the trip when Sylvia dozed off. It was close to midnight, so I didn’t blame her, nor did I feel that she needed her to stay awake for any reason. I couldn’t shut down to do a full reload, but I could keep the earphones plugged up to at least run on the car power, so as not to use my reserve. I was hardly tapping my internal power supply at all.
When I stopped the car for gas again late that night, Sylvia woke up long enough to use the bathroom. Once we were on the road again, she returned to sleep. I went back to the phase where I processed all the information that presented itself, but I didn’t try to problem solve. It would have been futile to try to problem solve, without knowing the exact nature of the problem. I mean I had to meet the Senator’s aid that was the mission in general, but I had no idea what the perimeters would really be until I was standing in front of him.
We arrived outside the small town of Oswego New York, at a few minutes after 8AM. I had done the speed limit most of the way. I had fudged only now and then in order to make up for the slower traffic, when we approached larger towns along the way.
“So do we have a reservation anywhere?” Sylvia asked after she was more or less awake.
“Nothing of which I am aware,” I said as I opened the car door. I had parked in the parking lot of an International Pancake House restaurant. “Right now I have pancakes and coffee on my mind. After that we can worry about where to stay.”
“Fair enough, but I want eggs,” Sylvia demanded.
“I am almost positive that somewhere in that restaurant there is an egg for people like you,” I suggested.
“Do not be a smart ass Maxine, I am not on the clock now. I don’t have to be nice,” she was grinning like an idiot. She was obviously one of those people who got silly when they were tired. That was probably how she and Peter hooked up after the last party.
When I ordered the pancakes at the IHOP, I had the distinct memory of 1AM and looking across the table at Mosby. Was Mosby going to end up being the love of my life, I asked myself. Probably not, I answered myself. She might however be the one who got away. Both she and the Irishman had not run their coarse.
The pancakes that morning tasted almost as good as they had that night with Mosby. It was a shame that the taste of Mosby was not on my tongue, when I began the pancakes that morning.
I was also very impressed with our waitress at the restaurant. She was friendly and bubbly for so early in the morning on New Years Eve.
“How do you do it?” I asked. “Is it drugs?”
“Do what?” she asked looking concerned.
“Be so damn cheerful at 8AM?” I asked.
“Well it isn’t drugs. I attend the local college here and don’t get a lot of sleep. I guess I’m punch drunk a lot of the time.”
“I would never be able to handle all that and still stay so upbeat. You are a marvel,” I said.
“I totally agree,” Sylvia commented.
After the girl had gone Sylvia added, “She probably never saw anyone killed by a sniper.”
“No she probably didn’t, but that doesn’t necessarily make us better people for having seen it,” I added.
“No just unable to be so damn happy for no reason. I can be appreciative, as I am to you, and still not be so manic,” Sylvia commented.
“I know. I’m the same way. It is hard to be all giggly when you have seen the worst in people,” I suggested.
I still had to empty the plain industrial burger, as well as the pancakes I had just consumed. I had it on my mind when we checked into a Holiday Inn Express near the expressway. I could easily do it when we got inside the motel room, without being noticed by Sylvia. Everyone locked themselves in the bathroom after a long drive. At least I had always done it for one reason or another.
I had decided that the recharge nap would be better done closer to the party time. I wanted to be on full charge just in case I couldn’t work it in for a full day or so.“I love email,” I said. “I can send a message to the Senator’s staff and not have to worry about the time.”
The message read, Maxine Stone and her friend Sylvia Moroni have arrived in Oswego. If you would give us directions from our motel to the entrance of the cocktail party sight, I would appreciate it. You might want to include any other pertinent information.
I watched the news on TV while Sylvia napped. The directions and times showed up in my email by noon. We had until 7PM to rest and relax.
“Come on Sylvia, you have slept enough. Let’s go look around this little town. You know how I love small towns.” I said when she was finally up and moving just after noon.
“Okay, I’m hungry anyway. After lunch let’s go for a run and sight see on foot,” she suggested.
“Well then it’s a good thing I have some jeans and running shoes,” I said.
“Maxine, you always have jeans and running shoes when you aren’t doing anything special,” Sylvia said.
“This party is special,” I said.
“True but driving up here last night you were in jeans and running shoes. You still have those I assume?” she asked.
“Yes dear, I can’t fight your logic.” I said in resignation. I went to lunch in the thin jeans, knit top and running shoes. We had to find a downtown cafe for lunch so that we could run around downtown sight seeing after.
The cafe was in what had obviously once been the house of a large family. “I know this house didn’t start life as an Italian grill, so what was it first?” Sylvia asked.
“It was the home of a ship’s captain on Lake Onterio. After he died the family lived here a few more generations, then it became this place?” the waitress said.
“So there really is a reason for the name Captain’s table?” I asked.
“Yes indeed,” she said.
“Okay then what is good for a quick lite lunch?” I asked.
“The fish and chip sandwich is my favorite,” she said.
“That’s good enough for me. I’ll have that,” I said smiling.
“I want the crispy fish salad,” Sylvia demanded.
While we waited I finally broached the subject. “Before I make plans for the business, tell me what is the situation with you and Peter?”
“I knew that had to come up. I have been waiting for it,” she said.
“You could have just brought it up yourself.” I suggested.
“Hell no I couldn’t. It has been too much fun watching you get close to asking, then backing away,” She said. “It was fun watching you try to thread the needle between friend and employer.”
“Alright, I asked, so what’s the deal.”
“The deal is I slept with him a few times, but it didn’t mean as much to me as it did him. Now I’m trying to figure out how to explain that to him. Would you like to do that for me?” she was quite serious, I think.
“No fucking way would I like to do that. Also there is no fucking way you can convince me to do that.” I laughed when I said it.
“Damn I hate virgins,” she said.
“Hell that’s why I have rule six. Never knowingly fuck a man with an STD or his virginity,” I explained.
“Now you tell me,” she said laughing.
The sandwich was excellent in it’s own right. Maybe I was just getting more fine tuned or maybe it just really was better than most of the fish I had since the change. But the fish was on two flat fried corn cake like fritters. They could have been served much father south and fit right in. The fish was coated with a spicy coating and it was very crisp . Then there was that sauce. It was a white sauce, but it had very little resemblance to tarter sauce. It was more like a sweet horseradish. Whatever it was it was delicious. The french fried potatoes also had a spice coating similar to the fish.
It also brought back memories of Fish sandwiches my dad used to bring home on Friday nights once in a while. Those lacked the Italian spices, but otherwise they were Similar. They were crispy and on a corn type bread. Since I enjoyed the taste of the sandwich, I ate it all. The Iced tea was god awful, but you cant get consistently good iced tea north of Virginia I had always known that.
“So how is your salad,” I asked after I finished my sandwich.
“Absolutely delicious,” Sylvia said to me. There are thin pieces of fish cooked as if they were chicken strips. Then they are used as a topping for a typical green salad. The dressing is some kind of spicy fish sauce. It is just unbelievably good.”
“Well good,” I said that as I put the money in the tray for the only slight more expensive check, than a similar meal would have been in Aster. Now when we leave here lets walk through the downtown, so that the local cops don’t stop us for suspicion of some crime. Running people downtown always appear to be purse snatchers at least.
The walking and running tour was actually a great idea. I was sorry that I hadn’t thought of it. We got a really nice tour of the downtown and we ran off that so called lite lunch as well. It was a definite win, win.
When we got back to the motel, we watched TV and talked. I plugged in my MP3 player while we talked about home. “So how much do you think we can raise for the bank conversion, if we go in as a non profit?” I asked.
“You would know more about that than me,” Sylvia suggested.
“Not really, Jennifer is going to have to deal with all that,” I said.
“Will you make a donation or what?” Sylvia asked.
“I have no idea what I will do. If I tie up money then I want a return. If there is going to be no return, I will make a donation and let the preacher do the lifting.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Sylvia said. The talk went on like that until she said to me. “Come on Cinderella it is time to get dressed for the ball. And we did.