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Road Trip to Alberta, Chapter Eight

road trip to alberta 8.3

Back on the road, but back to where I fear the most: home. Grandma’s home. I live, well, lived, with her, not too far from the Endboss, hidden a bit off Gotham (not going to say exactly where, of course!). Now normally I’d approach from the 710 but that’s just too obvious. I’m going to come from the east, from the 605, and wind up through the alley behind Rocia’s, park a street over, head through the Russell’s yard and grab Grandma’s two little dogs, Hegel and Marx.

Grandma is always more difficult to get into the Taurus after a meal, and gassier. I’m catching my breath and rolling down the windows when I hear her mumble something.

I’m distracted though. It’s late enough, four pm, that when I get there, we’ll be in twilight. Yes, that’s when I’ll make my move, under the cover of darkness. But is that really safe enough? I wanted Gila to check things out for me, make sure one of Soh Ju’s goons isn’t simply waiting for me to stumble into his trap. Maybe they’d just take the money. Would they really need to hurt me?

Grandma mumbles something again. “Hang on a sec, gram.”

I don’t know what she is saying but it brings me back to reality: we’re not turning back, and I’m not giving the money back. So, my mind is racing now as I realize I really do have to risk life and limb, all while grabbing those two tiny, yappy dogs. Yes, I understand it was pretty bad of me leaving them there, but I did have a plan. In addition to the bowls of food and the ten litter boxes I spread around the house for them to find, I was going to have someone look in on them when the time was right.

Also, I know Marx would be fine. He was the happy one, always trying new things, I mean, aside from just barking. he liked chew toys and other dogs. He’d probably escape, and that would be fine by me! A streetcar whizzes past and I imagine Marx barking out the window.

Grandma is saying something again; it’s really rare that she does this. “Hang on,” I tell her, “we’re going to Scherer Park. Tell me there.”

See, this makes sense: we hang out at the park, kill some time, then go back to Bell Gardens. Watch some tennis, think about the old days. And I find out what’s bugging Grandma. Maybe it’s poor Hegel, always grumpy and hiding.

Scherer Park is perfect. I can’t help but smile at how clever I am. Who else could escape from vicious criminals and still enjoy a day in the sun? Even better, there’s a police station right by the park! Soh Ju wouldn’t like it. Mwin Stache would keep his distance. By the time we’re on 46th, I’m already feeling better about my plan.

We stop behind the patrol station, just in sight of the courts. I turn off the ignition and look around. Kids, some sort of barbeque, families. Perfect.

“Grams, what is it?” I spin all the way around until I feel it in my neck. She looks small, pink, and white, and my heart sinks. It’s so easy to forget why we’re here and why we’re going to Canada.

I listen intently and look at her hands. “Something wrong with your fingers?” I try to grab a little wrinkled hand.

No, she indicates and mouths again.

“Oh, thumbs! We don’t need to go there. The origin of the family fortune is what she means.

The Long Beach Oil Islands.

THUMS. It’s clever, she wants us to hide there. I probably even have her pass with me, but it seems unnecessary.

“Thanks, Grandma, but I’ve got the situation under control. We’ll hand out here.”

I get out of the car to stretch and look around. We couldn’t possibly be safer here, and much less of a pain than going to the THUMS. Of course, there’s some wild family history there, and probably some money for me still.

I can’t help but walk over to the courts past the bbq; I smell the asada and the bitter froth of cheap beer and citrus. Above all, though, the whack of the tennis ball is music to me now: a distraction is welcome. I hang onto the chain link fence and watch the recreational trade blows. One’s a fat Chinese with a headband, a hustling Buddha. The other’s south American, still youngish, trying hard but doesn’t seem to have the strokes yet.

“Hey, pull it back deeper, backstroke!” I yell playfully at him. I signal how to make the shot, twisting my imaginary racquet deeper toward the backcourt for power and control. The South American flips me off and his Chinese opponent laughs hard, taking advantage of the moment to put his hands on his clubby thighs.

“Have it your way!” I laugh. It’s a beautiful day, even in winter, with food, sun and great people. You have to love L.A. It’s a real moment on a long trip. Well, I mean, the first day of a long trip.

I look back at the car and my heart is instantly in my throat.

The police are helping Grandma out of the car. What the hell am I doing?

I sprint toward the car as the South American cheers me on, “pinche pendejo!”

“Later!” I yell.

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