The Way Back Around: Chapter 10 [Final]
As expected, the confirmation number for my flight appeared on my phone some time along my drive to the airport. Between getting all my things together and dropping off the rental, I had a total of twenty minutes to check in and run to the gate. The couple of hours spent in the air allowed me to catch some shut-eye.
I lounged around the airport, nursing several successive cups of coffee, until the repair shop in Memphis opened for the day. To my surprise, it was only a short distance from the terminal. After another debit from my account, I had my own properly-sized vehicle back, albeit sufficiently dirtier than when I had left LA with it.
I set my phone’s GPS for a straight shot back to my home. The estimated time read a smooth twenty-six hours. At the last gas station before the highway, I picked up a sandwich and an energy drink, just to hold myself over.
With music blaring and the caffeine running through my veins, I made it to north Texas before my sleep-deprivation threatened to put me in a ditch. At one of the rest stops, I managed to find a few hours of sleep. The much-needed shut eye allowed me to Albuquerque, a town I had heard both so little and so much of. Granted, I learned nothing of it, as my first and only proper stop was at a no-name motel to do nothing other than sleep.
Sunday morning dawned on New Mexico, so as my phone told, reminding me that my one week of makeshift vacation would soon be up. The next twelve hours on the road would bring me back home and ready to hit the work week once again, or so I thought. After the traffic added a couple hours to the heat-drenched roads, I found myself back in the same driveway where the adventure had started. In the orange glow of the street lamps, I unlocked my door, purposefully ignoring my mailbox stuffed full.
After a much needed hot shower, I dove straight into bed, my hair still wet. Just before I closed my eyes to drift off, I found a girl’s pink hair tie stuck to the pillow.
Some time later, I was awoken to my phone buzzing, propped up by a stack of notifications reading ‘missed call.’ I answered the ringing without double checking the caller. “Hello?” I said with a weak voice.
“James-” Came the worried nagging of my coworker. “Are you not back yet?”
“It’s 8:45. Did you just wake up?”
“I talked management into allowing you half of last week to be counted as payed vacation. You better thank me by telling me about that little girl of yours.”
I planted my face back in the pillow with the ear-piece still to the side of my head. “Tomorrow, I’ll tell you. I’m officially calling in sick for today. Pass it on.”
Thanks for joining me on this adventure. Hey, there’s another story right around the corner as Camp Nanowrimo is going on.