As Ray pulled out of the driveway, Benny riding shotgun in the front bucket seat, he glanced in the rearview mirror and said a silent goodbye to the yellow ranch-style house he and Virginia called home for twenty-five years. The home where they raised their two children. The home where she died. Regret and relief warred with his conscience. He wondered when he'd see the house again. Did he want to?
He didn't have a planned route, his only agenda to get out of Ohio as fast as legally possible. Once he made the decision three days ago to take his son to the Grand Canyon, leaving became his sole focus. He washed laundry, gave the Olds an oil change, put a hold on mail delivery, canceled the newspaper, and asked Karen to keep her mama's tomatoes watered. When she wanted to know why the big hurry, he told her "summer break's already half over," for lack of a better explanation.
He could have headed west on I-70, but flat, humid Indiana held about as much appeal as a boil on his ass. He pointed the Olds south, taking I-675 out of Beavercreek, and connected with I-75 through Cincinnati. He drove like a man with demons on his tail, windows down, oppressive heat blasting across the white vinyl interior of the car. The Olds didn't have air conditioning, a fact Virginia reminded him of, often. The Burgundy Mist 442 with white hood stripes and W-30 engine option was one of the few things he stood his ground on. He bought the muscle car new off a lot in Dayton, Ohio, after getting out of the Air Force, and drove it all the way to Oregon to see his folks.
His Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver with six-inch barrel — something else Virginia frowned on him having — was loaded and locked in the glove box.
Ray drove one-handed, his left elbow resting on the window frame, wind tugging at the sleeve of his white t-shirt. Benny mirrored the pose from the passenger's bucket seat, his short arm jutting up at what looked like an uncomfortable angle. His traffic-stopper shirt billowed around the weight of the camera strap like a colorful banner. He pulled a pair of Terminator sunglasses from a side pocket of his cargo shorts, said "Hasta la vista, baby," as he put them on. Or words to that effect. Ray had seen the movie enough times to know what the boy meant.
He glanced over at Benny and smiled. His son looked like any kid on vacation. It yanked at his heart. He drove with the single-minded purpose of making up for lost time. The 360-horsepower Ram Air V-8 gobbled miles and gas with the precision of a fine watch; the dual exhausts purred with authority.
They crossed the jagged Ohio River into Kentucky — home of Daniel Boone, Loretta Lynn and Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken — when Benny said, "Dad?"
"I gotta pee."
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