Ha! Roz looked away, and I nabbed Chapter 2. May posting this one serve as dynamite up the literary buttock. Although, she did finally write the line that opened the door to the next leg of our journey. We are on the move once again.
Fifteen minutes later, we slid into the huge corner booth at Stacked. The word “coffee” resounded seven times, and Earl’s name tagged along for the ride to the waitress’ order pad. Claudia’s hand came to rest on my thigh, and I placed my own over hers. At least for the moment, life proved good.
We studied the menu, mindful to stay on gift-certificate budget, in case the game came down to that ten bucks I had been foolish enough to dwindle.
Soon, the waitress returned with several carafes. The word “pancakes” resounded seven times, and “tofu scramble” hitchhiked without incident.
Coffee was poured, and we drifted into an agreeable silence. Collectively, we seemed to insist the occasion was ordinary, that we were not in the clutches of riddling professors—clutches so tight they could have strangled our reality, if we let them. Yet, all the while, everyone’s eyes flitted among the many patrons in that restaurant, no doubt looking for the pawn we were certain was there to give us a clue. With my back to the room, I did my spying via the massive mirror on the wall, and not a damn thing caught my attention.
When the food arrived, we intently ate, again appearing as though we hadn’t a care in the world. Once sated, we quickly stacked our dishes and slid them to the outside of the table, and a perceptive busboy appeared and took them away. Seconds later, the waitress showed up with more coffee. She placed the bill tray on the table, which Laura, holder of the almighty gift certificate, immediately pulled in her own direction.
Daring to hurl us back to Ginny and Kris’ world, Janice asked, “Anybody have any idea what we’re up against?”
“Through the Looking-Glass.”
“First, I think we have to figure out how to make the map into a chessboard,” Maggie said and tossed the thing in my direction.
I agreed and spread out the map on the table. “Does anybody have a pencil?”
A few affirmed possession and seized purses, but Janice loudly said, “You might do best to use mine. My instructions said to bring a notebook and a pencil. No flippin’ clue why, but here it is.”
A toss and a roll brought me the pencil. A stretch and a tilt brought seven surveyors with a keen interest in a hometown that suddenly felt foreign.
“Grant Avenue and Lancaster Street,” I said with an eventual stab. “We’re here.” I drew an X on the spot. “This is e1.”
“So are the chessboard squares buildings or blocks or what?”
Laura quickly rattled off the other businesses on the block, six in all, and it seemed obvious we weren’t talking buildings.
“Shit, it is blocks.”
“Eight city blocks by eight city blocks.”
“Sixty-four blocks? You’ve got to be kidding!”
“We can’t walk sixty-four blocks! We’ll die.”
Continue reading LAC 11 Chapter 2