No Place Like Home
Chapter 3: "The Long Shadow"
No Place Like Home: Chapter 3: "The Long Shadow"
Highway I55 crossing Rainbow Towers Way,
Friday, June 7, 2024, 1945 hrs:
replies Jean, the tone of her voice delivered in a surly manner.
Jean's countenance: the devil-may-care attitude confirms she is prepared to meet this next challenge. She notices Turbo's trademark grin.
He releases rare nervous tension by letting out a guffaw.
Jean's confidence soon engulfs Turbo.
The traffic light signal flashes "advance green."
In a blink of an eye, with a motion,
a NASCAR driver would admire,
Jean engages the clutch and manual stick,
effortlessly shifting gears,
gaining a comfortable distance from the ominously mysterious car following them.
Jean owns the road.
The street lamp's illumination appear to flow, like a photographer's
readjustment to the aperture of his camera lens.
Turbo seems to blink his eyes and they arrive at Jean's apartment building.
"Looks like we gave them the slip, Jean, but...that was almost too easy..."
"Sure..., Jean agrees,"...Turbo, I have a good hunch who could be following us..."
"...I have a good idea too..."
Turbo's stomach announces its presence with a loud gurgle.
Jean attempts to speak while nervously giggling "...your stomach just sent me a direct order..."
Turbo's trademark grin appears, "Yes, indeed, if memory serves..."
The tension of the wild car chase weighs heavily on their minds. Now Jean's shoulders give way.
The fine line separating professional and personal lives
dissipates as the two life-long friends engage in warm embrace.
Star-liter's Inn, Friday, June 7, 2024. 1945 hrs:
Victor sounds like he is talking to himself "...too many thoughts... pressures...the tensions..all these things weigh heavily on our minds..."
Rusk tries to console his friend:
"Victor, we know there is one individual who can explain
the adverse politique, the expert in these matters..."
"Oh, yes, You refer to our dear comrade-friend, Lieutenant Alph---"
Suddenly, the loud din of the busy restaurant is shattered and transformed by their niece, Bella and her outburst of laughter and glee. "Scilly...!!!"
Victor and Rusk simultaneously turn their heads.
Bella embraces their friend, retired, Lieutenant Alphonse Sharpton.
He affectionately earns the nickname "Scilly" which is short form for "silicon"
["Scilly" is pronounced, "Silly"]
Scilly is similar to Rusk and Victor: all in retirement, yet, their conversations
turn to their former careers with the Space Academy.
Scilly's tenure was with the Silicon Valley division.
Their friendships remain strong and form a lasting bond.
Scilly responds to Bella's jubilation: the two become human jigsaw puzzle pieces.
They linger in this position for a long time.
Victor and Rusk stand to attention as Scilly and Bella approach them.
Scilly offers the quip, "Bella, honey, you still hanging around with these two old geezers?"
His humour inspires Bella, Victor, and Rusk to respond with smiles.
Bella sighs with relief.
Rusk and Victor have been preoccupied most of the evening:
hunched over their table like two mischievous boys.
Bella's beaming smile is transfixed on her face,
"Ok, gentlemen take your seats at the staff table?
I will be clocking out in about half an hour,
then we can celebrate this Friday night, in style, ok?"
Bella will be celebrating her 29th birthday this evening.
Scilly agrees, "Bella, my dear apple pie crust, that is the best idea I have heard all day!"
Their eyes follow Bella across the dining room floor to the kitchen area.
They take their seats: Rusk sitting next to Scilly, both sitting across from Victor.
Scilly rolls his eyes as his gaze lingers on Victor.
"Vick, Rusk. Will y'all blow your gasket and take load off?"
Apparently, Scilly had observed the solemn scene of the two men earlier in the evening.
Rusk sits quietly observing his friends and nods his head in approval to Scilly's blunt euphemism.
"We are glad you are here..."
Scilly responds, with a patriotic verve, "Hey, listen up, we are brothers...[he corrects himself] like blood brothers, man...unconditional, during these crazy-ass times..."
Victor replies, "...Thank you, Scilly, from our hearts, yes,"
"Now..." in a weak attempt to replicate Scilly's brand of humour,
"I believe, the donkey is kicking itself in the ass..."
Scilly's eyes dart from Victor to Rusk and return to his hands for a moment.
His attention and gaze then linger past Victor's shoulder, to gauge their privacy.
The restaurant was nearly empty now.
The owner and staff will leave the men
to their own devices long after closing time.
"Let me take a wild guess here...are you two referring...
Scilly pauses, "...to the phone call?"
Victor nods his head.
Rusk exhales through pursed lips.
The three men remain silent.
Scilly confirms, "Gentlemen, I believe it is time to converse on the mat---"
The three are jolted from their revelry by Bella, "My awesome guys..!
Ready to party with me..?!!