Monday, September 18, 2006

Road Trip

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

"I'm gonna go get the mail," Daryl said.

Tom sprung up from behind the couch. "Dude, hold up, I'll go with you."

"I'm just going for the mail."

"No, no, it'll be good for me, my analyst says I need to go outside more. Stave off my impending agoraphobia."

"He's your stock analyst, Tom."

"And he hasn't steered me wrong yet. Let me just get some pants on!" Tom ran off to his bedroom. Daryl sighed. Getting the mail had been one way to get away from Tom for two minutes. The phone rang.

"Yep?" Daryl said.

"What are you doing right now?" Jerry asked.

"I'm waiting for Tom to put his pants on so we can get the mail."

"Great! I'll be right over!" he said and hung up.

"What the hell?"

"I'm ready," Tom said, buttoning up a pair of red denims.

"Good." Daryl opened the door and Jerry was there. He had two pretty girls under his arms. Jerry's blue and white nylon pants were huge and lumpy. He had his hair slicked back like he was the Fonz and wore a bright yellow sport jacket that didn't match anything.

"Hey!" Jerry said. "Daryl, Tom, this is Michelle, and this is Ditzy."

"Deeta!" she squealed.

"Yeah, whatever. You guys ready to go?"

"Go where?" Daryl asked.

"To get the mail!" Jerry said. "Christ, did you forget already?"

"Great! Let's do this thing!" Tom said, pushing past Daryl. No sooner had Daryl pulled in the door than Tom was back on him, clinging like a leading lady. "Can we take the LTD?"

"We're just going to the end of the damn driveway," Daryl said.

"Please!" Tom begged. His eyes were wet. "It's the agoraphobia, D, it's not me! You've got to understand!"

"Why don't you just stay inside, while I get the mail?"

"No, Daryl, please. I need this." He smoothed Daryl's shirt where he'd pulled at it. "I need this."

"Why don't you just take the car for your friend, you big meanie?" Deeta asked.

"Are they gay?" Michelle asked Jerry.

"Nobody's gay!" Daryl yelled. "Everybody get in the goddamned car!"

They all piled into the dusty green Ford LTD. From the driver's seat, Daryl heard Michelle's mousy voice say, "Nobody's gay?"

"Let's have some tunes!" Jerry yelled, placing beers into everyone's hands.

"We don't have any tunes," Daryl said. "The battery's been dead for three months. Where the hell did you get cold beers from?"

"My new cooler pants, baby! Everybody's gonna be wearing these next year."

Daryl twisted off the cap and took a long swig. He needed it. Then he threw the old Ford into neutral and they were on their way.

Tom stuck his head out the window and howled. "Woooooooo!" And two beers later, they reached the mailbox.

Daryl got out because he didn't expect anyone else would. The mailbox was empty. At least Jerry and Michelle helped him push the car back while Deeta and Tom made out in the back seat.

"That was awesome!" Tom said once they were back home. "Let's all do this again some time."

"How about, like, 3:30?" Deeta asked. "Maybe the mail will be here by then."

"Great," Jerry agreed. "I'll bring some tunes this time."

"Bring some travel games!" Tom said.

"I got Boggle. Anybody like Boggle?"

"Oh, I love Boggle!" Michelle said.

Daryl went to his room, got online, started looking for apartments.

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