Last scene of previous:
“Do you want to lay on me?” Echo asked with a knowing smile. Vi couldn’t help blushing and said, “I do…if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t. Come here.”
Vi tried to hide her smile, and a million tears, but the smile got out. The tears stayed in as she tucked close to Echo and laid her head on her shoulder. She could feel Echo’s heartbeat, it was steady, but a little giddy; this made her smile, too. It also made her feel very safe to be nestled here against Echo. Her smell was gentle and sweet. Vi closed her eyes and tried to feel Echo’s presence with every one of her senses. She fought the tears and forced them not to come. She needed this right now.
For the next two weeks, Vi and Echo travel around in different states, staying in different hotels and motels and HOAs. They laugh together and stay up long into the night talking about fears and hopes and dreams. They almost forget that they are on the run, enjoying this free life. They began collecting board games and decks of cards and other interesting things to do.
They’ve gotten close, but neither has fully closed the gap that was left open all that time between them.
Section 4—Cap’n Jack’s
Vi sat on the edge of a hotel bed in Frankfort, her and Echo had been travelling around for three weeks now. Echo called to her from where she was brushing her teeth in the bathroom,
“We should try that breakfast place we found yesterday. It looked good!”
“Yes, we should, I’ve been waiting to try whatever it was on that poster!” She’s shaken from her thoughts. She was thinking about that first night in that little hotel in Mabury. Nothing had happened, but she’d woken up next to Echo in the morning, contentedly. She’d been waiting to get to see Echo’s face in the morning for a long time. She smiled. She’s thankful Echo had found her and came with her. This was the adventure of a lifetime and she knew it. …But how long would it last? She was scared she’d meet the day when Echo would move on again. Not that they were even dating now, they were nothing but travel buddies; but the thought of losing Echo made her stomach hurt and her head throb. She couldn’t go through that again.
Echo came out of the bathroom then in a sports bra and sweatpants to rummage through the shirts in her drawer. They’d gone to Walmart since that first day, and bought changes of clothes and other necessities, even a couple carry-bags to transport it all in. This hotel, they’ve stayed at the longest, it’s the cheapest one they’ve found, so they parked themselves here.
“You ready to go? I’ve just gotta put on a shirt and change my pants and then we can head out.”
“Oh! Yeah, I probably shouldn’t wear pajamas out.” Vi laughed. She really liked this life with Echo. They were like a married couple, except entirely physically platonic. They’d not even kissed; I guess that’s not a very successful “I do”.
She felt like this was a trailer, full of snippets of their life all strung together with scrapbook ribbons and glue. It was like a fairytale. She only hoped that the glue would stick.
Once she’d put on something other than a fuzzy shirt and puffy socks, she met Echo by the door and they hopped into the car and drove down to “Cap’n Jack’s Flippin’ Cakes—Pancakes and Lobster ‘for the wee hours of morn’”.
Vi laughed at the sign again, for the second time since last night. “It just cracks me up!” She says to Echo, who is chuckling at her. “Even if the food isn’t good, it’ll be the name keeps me comin’ back.” She raises her eyebrows.
Cap’n Jack’s is no iHop, the seating was fast, and the decorations were nautical; a replica of an old vessel stood tall and proud on a shelf by the host stand, greeting all who came in with her beautiful rigging. Ship wheels, nets, and swordfishes hung about; the booth upholstery was a worn out blue-green with thin red stripes sandwiching a dark blue one every other inch; the tables were a polished, naturally dark wood, the color of mighty ships atop tossing seas; and all the waiters and waitresses wore a sailor’s cap and blue shirt with a white collar and apron—some even wore fake tattoo sleeves of an anchor. It was all what you would expect of a fantastical sea captain’s dining hall.
After oohing and ahhing at the setup, Vi and Echo were taken to a seat. The booths were raised up, so they had to step onto the landing of their “galley”. They could almost felt the rocking of their mighty ship. Folded white paper hats even sat on the table for them to put on.
“Well, this is fancy!” Echo said, after donning her sailor hat and opening her menu.
“Shore Stacks” and “Butter Me Timbers” with “Fresh Caught Fruits” sprinkled the menu along with other nautical food puns, like this one:_______________________.
“Everything looks good! Only, I don’t see the one that they had in the poster outside last night.” She frowned. Echo saw an old, triangular stand-up advertisement card saying that a special for the “Banana Boat n’ Root Beer Float—Cap’n’s Order Combo Stack” would last for a week, … and it had just ended yesterday. She showed it to Vi, “This might be why.”
“Poohey.” She pretend-pouted, and looked through the “Lil’ Shrimps” menu, full of half-plates and tiny sides of “Shipwreck Hash” and “Pork Driftwood” (which featured, next to it, a photo of two strips of well-done bacon).
The waitress soon came around to take their orders and Echo stated the entrée she wanted.
“And what riggin’s would you like with that, darlin’?” the woman asked, pointing to the part of the menu that said “RIGGIN’S” and listed side-order items.
“I’ll have the Blue-Whale Berries and Sword-fish Kebabs, please.” When the lady had finished scrawling on her little yellow notepad, Echo thanked her and the woman nodded and smiled.
“And for you?” Vi ordered the “Wild-Caught Turkey Omelet” with “Sailor’s Grub Grits” on the side.
“The ambiance is cool!” Vi says, looking around at the hanging decorations after the lady walks away.
Echo is just staring at Vi, “We should talk about our living situation… It’s kind of getting expensive staying at hotels every night. What if we tried renting a place? An apartment or a home.”
Vi looks at her, hearing the sense of seriousness in Echo’s voice, “Yeah, I guess we ought to…” her words trail off. “I got so caught up in running away…I think I secretly liked adventuring around, too.”
“I have too. Adventuring and running.” The urge to take Vi’s hand almost commandeered her, but she stopped it; her arm only almost moved, maybe slightly shifted.
Vi was afraid of when Echo would get tired of her and this life of theirs and leave. Would she go back to Tess? She didn’t think she would, but maybe she’d be desperate enough to get away again. It was always only a matter of time, with Echo, or so it had happened with Vi those couple times; but maybe it was something else…all four times. All she knew is that Echo clearly got bored of her all too easily, and it always left Vi unhopeful.
But her attention is directed back to Echo, when her expression goes ghostly white. It spooks Vi and she turns her head to look where Echo is staring.
“What is it?” Vi asks, beginning to sweat.
“I,” she begins, but then swallows hard and clears her throat, “I just thought I saw Tess. That’s all.” Her knee was bouncing under the table.
“Hey, how about we get out of here?” Vi outwardly puts on a calm façade, but her heart is pounding inside. “Yeah. Yeah that’s a good idea.” Echo stutters.