Pulling into a parking spot in front of the Rye Regional Airport, I looked over at my first passenger in a little over a month and smiled. Beatrice, wearing nearly opaque sunglasses, leaned against the Princess’s window fast asleep, her neck twisted in an angle I’m sure will prove less than pleasant upon waking. Trying to inspire her into consciousness, I got out of the car, pulled her bags out of the trunk, and wheeled them to the passenger side door – without attempting to muffle, stifle or dampen the sounds my actions created in the slightest.
Her muscles didn’t quiver once – which frankly wasn’t surprising due to the smashing success of the Twinkle Toes Review.
Initially, even with an agreement to keep his complaints to himself in place, Wood balked at watching hours of himself on tape. Parading him past a table heaving under all his favorite foods, plus twelve tubs of Mac’n’cheese from the Rare Records Room, finally persuaded him to give the party a chance.
After he loaded his plate, we pressed play and less than fifteen minutes into the first home movie, an epic battle between cross-district peewee soccer rivals, he was laughing like a loon. Soon he was expanding on the stories his Gran spun and by the end of the evening had related a few originals of his own.
Apparently, listening to his Gran’s running and rambling commentary caught by her camcorder’s microphone with the ears of an older man burned away the lingering feelings of embarrassment leftover in his brain by his younger self.
I’m pretty sure the application of a few fingers of scotch over the coarse of the day may have eased him towards this newfound wisdom.
It’s certainly at the root of my roommate’s current comatose condition.
The other source of her inert state was due to our wildly miscalculated timetable. Between bathroom breaks, intermittent romps around the backyard (to help aid digestion and unclog our cheese-filled arteries), footwork demonstrations (which only Wood and Beatrice showed any aptitude at), and one walk/mosey to the corner store for gummy bears & worms (to settle the argument on which is better) the party effortlessly exceeded its allotted time.
Then Beatrice pulled out the good bottle.
Around ten pm, I extracted myself, to a chorus of boos, from our stroll down memory lane and stumbled my way to bed. (More than a little excited to start driving for FLYT again in the morning, I didn’t want to be hungover/exhausted/grumpy on my first day back.)
I haven’t a clue how long the others continued to natter. But six hours, two alarms and one shower later, I discovered Sarah curled up on our living room couch, Beatrice snuggled in the recliner in the office, and Wood doing his impression of a buzzsaw in Beatrice’s room. The two empty bottles of Oban next to the kitchen sink gave me a fair clue what prompted the impromptu sleepover. (When I’d said goodnight neither bottle had been cracked open or in fact out of the liquor closet.)
My inner trickster urged me to rouse them by playing Reveille at full volume on my phone while flipping on the overhead lights in my friend’s respective rooms.
Deciding against saddling my friends with the moniker of The Monday Morning Murderer Squad, I began brewing a veritable sea of coffee and recycling last night’s leftovers into this morning’s breakfast. The aroma of frying eggs, butter, bacon, biscuits, and gouda accompanied by the sounds of the coffee percolator plus the jaunty selections played by KARB’s morning DJ had the last of the fearsome foursome lurching into the kitchen (and collapsing into a heap on the floor as the table hadn’t been moved back yet) twenty minutes later.
After each downed a mug of the best bean-based drink known to man Beatrice found Wood’s shoe, Laney’s coat, and Sarah’s keys, I placed a quart-sized go-mug of coffee in each of their hands, a breakfast sandwich in their other and pushed them all out the Lavender Lady’s door to start their day. Beatrice and I followed them thirty minutes later in roughly the same state (only with more baggage and a shower under our belts), and here we are.
Standing on the curb, I gazed through the windshield at the still form of my roommate and hit speed dial on my phone. It took a beat for my ringtone to penetrate her brain, but when her hands finally twitched in response – she hung up on me. Fortunately (for me, not her) the second time I rang her, the crick in her neck announced itself – hurling her directly into consciousness and out of the Princess.
Handing her a handful of vitamins, two aspirins, and a bottle of water, I unsuccessfully attempted to suppress a grin.
Me: “Come on, let’s get you checked in.”
While I wheeled her luggage along, she silently worked her way through the pills.
The upside of catching the first flight out of Rye? You don’t have to wait in any lines, the gate agents are friendly, and your luggage always makes it on the plane. The downside? Nothing’s open. Hence our brown-bag breakfast that Beatrice was finally awake enough to enjoy. Since I wasn’t due at the Senior Center for an hour and Beatrice wasn’t scheduled to take-off for another two, we snagged a couple of seats on the landside of the airport and tucked into our homemade breakfast sandwiches & cups of coffee.
When only crumbs and dredges remained of our meal, Beatrice finally looked human again. Apparently, she felt the same because she removed her sunglasses (letting sunbeams from the nearby windows hit her retinas unfiltered) and leapt directly into conversation.
Beatrice: “An interesting fact came to light yesterday.”
Me: “Is it Laney’s secretly addiction to turkey and dressing tv dinners?”
Beatrice (clearly picking her words carefully): “No, though that is inexplicable, no, this has to do with the Brace Affair*.”
Me (perplexed): “Really? I’m all ears.”
Beatrice: “Seems Ms. Hettie isn’t the only one who had the opportunity to overhear our plans.”
Taking my thunderstruck silence correctly, Beatrice continued.
Beatrice: “While you were keeping Dourwood occupied, Laney joined Sarah and me in the kitchen. Laney went on to say it felt like an age since she’d seen Sarah – they started comparing notes, and turns out the last time they hung out was just after our trip to Pumpkin Mountain…”
Sensing I was about to interrupt, Beatrice put her index finger up, stalling my questions in my throat.
Beatrice (placing air quotes at the end of the sentence): “…However, the last time they saw each other was the evening Laney stopped by to drop off some reference books she borrowed from Sarah and to tell her we were ‘heading into Nevermore that night to plant the rubber ducks’.”
Me (sinking feeling): “Those were her exact words? Please don’t tell me she….”
Beatrice (finishing my sentence): “….uttered them in the lobby of the main building in Nevermore? Apparently, she did.”
(Laney is many amazing things – but quiet isn’t one of them.)
Me (disappointment lancing thru my lungs as I thought thru the ramifications of this shiny new fact): “So potentially anyone who was walking by or standing near the lobby could have heard them talking. So knowing who ratted us out won’t give me any real answers…”
Beatrice (nodding her head in sympathy): “Other than who was in the building that night? No, I don’t think so.”
Me (letting loose a sigh): “Crap!”
*(AKA, the night Laney, Wood, Beatrice and I ran around Nevermore as pirates trying to dissuade Little Ben from placing the new pet cemetery directly adjacent to a river bed.)