It was ten PM and I was being restrained from writing on the wall. Then it was eight in the morning. I only had three Hurricanes, and we bought eight, so somebody who claimed to have had only one is lying.
And oh what a fine wreck the storm had left. The trash had been filled up and abandoned for at least twelve hours, despite my brilliant subterfuge the day before. Towels, food wrappers, "clean" clothes, all about the place.
I decided against a shower in favor of sucking down as much coffee as I could in the time alloted. I would be driving the frontier half of the trip. This would require staying awake, and it's not as if a shower would have left me feeling like any less of a sweating battery.
Our loot from the Nebraskaland; the bible, a local phone book, the coffee pot, and some more towels. I threw a few extra things on the floor, just to show my contempt for,,, Becky clearly did not approve. She kept cleaning up what I was dirtying. She is clearly too young and immature to understand the importance of breaking minor rules lamely.
We stocked the trunk with obvious deviousness, and we were off. One last trip to the Pump and Pantry for coffee and breakfast. I bought a gas station grease biscuit and found it most unsatisfying. Another stop in Gordon for gas.
As I've said, the sandhills are much more pleasant in the daylight than they are at night, especially when one is feeling lightheaded for one reason or another. They're nothing but grass, so even the slightest breeze or extra beam of sunlight peaking through the clouds can have a profound effect on how they look. One really has to have lived out here to really know all of their colors and moods.
The sun gradually came out and by the time we reached Ellsworth it was bright and clear. I suggested getting lunch at Hyannis and Dan said he would prefer we wait for Broken Bow. I really would have preferred getting something solid in my stomach sooner rather than later, but this was a return trip, quiet and peaceful, everyone who could sleep without killing us all eventually did and I wasn't going to argue.
The groups of buildings that have names but can't properly be called villages; Ellsworth, Ashby, Bingham.
I drove at eighty miles an hour, thirsting for my kitchen and my bed. Hyannis, Seneca, Mullen. We passed a local sheriff near Thedford at eighty five an hour and he did nothing. He knows the score, good man.
Neko Case, the very voice of sympathy, guiding me through my hangover as we drove through the sun. Fucking exquisite.
Just past the main turn-off for the Nebraska National Forest, (Note to non-locals, yes we know it's funny) Becky said she needed to pee. Very well dear, the next village is two miles ahead. Perfectly routine.
We pulled up to the post office in Halsey and were informed that they didn't have a public restroom. They advised us to go to the bar, which they said was on the main street. We thought that Highway 2 was the main street; we saw nothing here leading off the highway that could be called an artery, while on highway 2 itself we saw a boarded up gas station, a boarded up hardware store, and I'm not going to get cute about it you get the idea.
After driving from one end of the village to another for a few minutes, we came to a place that, in Dan's words, looked "vaguely barrish." We knew it was a public building of some kind. It had an American flag and functioning cars parked in the lot.
We walked through the front? door to find ourselves in a gymnasium. Ah, so we were in a school than. The bathrooms were right there at the back of the gym, no more than fifteen feet from the main door. Everyone who had to go or felt that they might have to go later went.
I thought it might be funny if I stole a basketball, or climbed onto the stage and started busting out Richard III. Strangely, I thought better of it.
I joined Paul outside. The elementery teacher was using the flag pole to teach some kind of math lesson to the kindergarteners and it was the cutest damned thing one could ever see. She looked at us. I think I may have given a little wave.
We got back into the car and continued southeast towards the flatlands. There was a state patrol wagon sitting at the junction with the Arnold road. I thought that it was a good thing I had slowed down to sixty-five.