A Vacation in Colors; pt.2

Lil’ Knuckles, Apple, and that girl that I don’t remember her name had a splendid time on Thursday night. We drank beer and more beer and then everyone gave up on the beer to bike home or play lesbian guitar…but I drank more beer. Listening to Lil’ Knuckles’ songs kept me entranced…so much that I didn’t think of anything when she said that she had to go to the bathroom. I then heard her say behind the closed door, “I’m gonna throw up.” and almost as the last syllable spilled out her beer replaced her speech. I walked in and moved her CTA shower curtain to rest on the edge of the tub and rub the rest of it out…as if it was in her back. She fell asleep to the television…something I remember her doing when we were dating (for those etheral six days)…but it was King of the Hill. I cursed and moaned until flowing into the darkness myself.

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The sun shone in brightly through the windows as my eyes shook hands with the rays. “I feel okay…I need coffee, though.” I called Lil’ at work to see if there was a coffee shop within walking distance…”Where are you?” she asked. “I don’t know. There’s a wine shop and a Chinese place that used a play on words as the name.” There was nothing there or close. I found a grocery store called Bi-Lo. On the left wing of the roof said, “Bakery – Cafe” so I went inside. The cafe was where a video store would be in any other grocery store. High School Cafeteria Booths lined the walls and Auto Trader magazines blanketed the table tops like the Sunday funnies at grandma’s house. I found the coffee machine. Filled the cup with an amber liquid and accidentally put hazelnut creamer in it. I waited at the cashier’s station for what I hadn’t known would be nothing. I carried my cup of hot beverage to the checkout line. I asked the cashier, “Can I pay for this here?”

“What?”

“Can I pay for this here?”

“Oh, I thought you said ‘Can I keep it?.'”

“Well, after I pay for it can I keep it?”

Do yankees sound weird to southerners? Was I mumbling?

I walked back to Lil’s and played her guitar for a few hours. Then I watched television. For some reson, WGN (the Chicago SUPERSTATION!) came in and I watched the news. It seemed so far away. Like I had only been there once. I had a few hours to kill before she would come back from work and then we were to drive to my parent’s in South Carolina.

I opened the back door to fill the room with yellow. The screen turned from black to gray in the sunlight. I watched the neighbors going to and fro…errands, I suppose. Surely nothing more exciting than that happens in Charlotte. Oh, except for the heads of local banks stabbing their twin daughters.

Lil’ returns and is worn out from all the drinking the night before. “Whew,” she says as she plops on the couch…”You smell like booze,” she says after resting her muscles for three seconds.

“Really?” I had only had beer the night before and only coffee and water that day.

I then went through a process that I thought would cleanse my body of the smell before arriving at my parent’s later that day.

Teeth were brushed.

Shirt was changed.

Lasagna was consumed.

Cigarettes were smoked.

When we hopped in her car, I smelled like booze. Oh, well.

We made our way through Charlotte when she said, “I want to stop by a few places before we go to South Carolina.”

“Okay.”

At American Apparel I bought a T shirt for 18 dollars. It was plain and I had every faith that It would somehow remove the booze from my body. “Aren’t you going to change into it?”

“Yes.”

Pause.

“When?”

“On the highway. It seems romantic.”

We made it onto the highway. I watched the passing signs and semi-truck accidents with pure glee and wonder. I tend to treat different states as if they’re different cultures completely. The way that state highway signs look are a wonder…what are the children that live here see in the shape of them? A sign comes up that says “Tobacco Outlet – Next Exit – Cartons $12.99 and up.”

“We’re going there. I mean we have to get gas anyway.” That way I can see if it will really be able to erase my smile, I think.

I instruct her to get off on a completely wrong exit, one that takes us to a back highway that is the only way to get into a weird factory/warehouse/elephant graveyard of sorts. A drunk southern dude is walking down the highway…the MIDDLE of the highway…wearing black and a stagger. After we realize there is no tobacco outlet, we retrace back to the interstate only to see the drunk in the other lane. I wonder if he does this regularly. I wonder if he has somehow “trained” his rosatia to signal lane changes.

The tobacco outlet is found. It has been such a long time since I’ve had to pump gas that I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. I found and followed the instructions and then marvelled at the price of gas. Mercy. I pondered it while I removed my shirt, covered myself in the LA sweatshop magic, and watched a man attempt to yell through the window of the gas station, “What the fuck you think?! Gawd…”. He was eating an ice cream cone.

With the tank filled, I went inside and found Lil’ smiling with a bag containing two cartons of Parliament Lights. “Fifty bucks,” she informs me.

“They have a statue up there that is a dragon holding a sword that doubles as a letter opener,” I inform her.

I look at their tobacco choices…not so good…and decide on a carton of Camel Filter 99s. They were $19.99. I questioned my decision immediately after purchasing them. No turning back.

Hopping back into the car, I felt the freshness that comes with a road trip and stopping at a gas station…even though we’d only been on the road about an hour. We went though the typical road shenanigans…telling jokes…telling stories…making fun of other drivers…smoking…eating Chex Bold Party Mix…listening to the radio…doing imitations of the artists on the radio…discussing the pros and cons of road head…informing Lil’ that I’ve always wanted to sleep with her old roommate…Lil’ informing me that she wanted to sleep with my current roommate…

The sun warming my legs like an underage bonfire.

Smoking the clear air into blue.

Nothing will wipe this smile off my face.

Until…

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