I thought I tee-ed her up pretty nicely. If I could get her to think extreme thoughts, I had a slim chance of her accepting the truth about my extreme situation with stowaways. Without thinking, I twirled a broken tree branch like a baton, the same way Grandma Earlene does when she’s telling a story, only she twirls an old wooden golf club. A four-iron, to be precise.
“Gee, I dunno know, Darce. You want me to remember what now?”
“Tell me something that is take-your-breath-away unusual.”
“Okay, I got one,” Jenius said.
Looking at her face, I could tell Jenius was cognating. Her mug was fixed in thinkin’ position—nose scrunched up and eyeballs cocked upward and to the right as if she could she see what was going on up there in her own mind.
“When I was five, my family left me at a gas station convenience store.”
“Your family dumped you at a gas station?” I had to ask.
“No, silly. We were on our way to the Finger Lakes for summer vacation. Everyone got their snacks, jumped in the van, and drove away without me. It took hours to figure out that I was among the missing. It only took me a few minutes. I started crying. Someone said I sounded like a baby seal.”
“Jenius, I can’t believe what I’m hearing.”
“But wait, there’s more.”
“I can’t wait!”
O.M. Gosh! I was picturing my poor friend abandoned at a Dairy Queen along the interstate. It was horrifying.
“If I’m clingy, it’s because of this incident. I haven’t told you the most unbelievable part yet. I was looking pretty upset when all of a sudden a short old man in overalls asked if he could get me some ice cream.”
Jenius was talking miracles and rescues. Wow!
“I’ll never forget his hat. It looked like he just came out of the jungle. Whadda ya call them? You know, Darcy?”
“Pith helmet. Gosh, Jenius! I didn’t know this about you. No wonder you always tell me to wait up.”
I realized as soon as I said it, I shouldn’t have.
“Ut-oh. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I just meant…”
“It’s okay, Darce. I understand. But I haven’t told you the most unbelievable part yet.”
“Really?” This conversation couldn’t have been any better had I planned it.
“Yeah, well, like I said, it took some time for my family to find and get me. They must have been busy singing songs and reading maps, I guess. Anyway, the guy’s hand-painted helmet made me smile. So, when he offered to buy me ice cream…”
“O.M.Woah! Weren’t you scared?”
“Yes, I was scared. I was scared my family wouldn’t remember what exit to go back to. That is something a young’un should never have to think about. Ice cream was the right thing to do.”
I had to agree. “So, what happened?”
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