Hot Air Balloon Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen

Fiction By Clare // 9/29/2010

 

Chapter Fourteen
Now, I know what you’re thinking: They did what!?
That’s what they were thinking, too, as they sat at the little card table, watching the very friendly priest (who introduced himself as Father Scott) cook them breakfast. His home under the church was pretty small, as most of it wasn’t his home. Most of it was taken up by a room with metal folding chairs and a kitchen and a maintenance room. Father Scott had a bedroom, a bathroom, a laundry room, and a kitchen. The kitchen was small with cream linoleum and wooden cabinets. The sink was small, and the refrigerator looked ancient. His oven looked even older. The card table looked well-used, and their chairs had small rips in the padding.
“So, why were you two asleep up in the church, if I may be so bold?” Father Scott asked, looking kind of funny in a white kitchen apron as he beat eggs and made fresh OJ.
“Um…we…” Cody nibbled the tip of his fork as he groped for a convincing lie.
“We’re homeless right now,” Georgie said with a smile. “We ran away from home,”
Cody nearly gagged on the fork. What did she say!?
“Ran away from home?” Father Scott said, turning around and raising his eyebrows at them. “To join the circus?”
“No,” Georgie replied. “But that isn’t a bad idea. Cody ran away because he wasn’t very happy. I ran away because my life was boring and hard and Cody’s my best friend and I love having adventures!”
Cody wanted to die.
“Really,” Father Scott said, flipping the bacon. “Say, would you like to make some toast, Georgie?”
Georgie hopped up and kept talking. “Sure! Yeah…I like adventures. It’s so fun to do something crazy!”
“It is indeed,” Father Scott said. “Yeah, use the white bread, unless you like rye,”
Georgie pulled two slices of bread out of the bag and inserted them into the toaster. “I also love toast!”
“How long did you want to run away before you actually did?” Father Scott asked.
Cody continued to die in his seat at the card table.
“Um…like…a week? I guess Cody was planning it for longer. It was awesome! We flew off in a hot air balloon! It wasn’t awesome when we crash-landed into a field of cows, but it was still fun!”
Cody was in actual pain at how unbelievable the situation had become. Spill out our life stories, why don’t you? Show the guy our baby pictures…give him your Social Security number while you’re at it!
“Did your parents know?” Father Scott asked, putting the bacon onto a platter.
“Duh no!” Georgie said, laughing. “It’s not really running away if you tell people about it!”
“Ah,” Father Scott said, as if the mysteries of life had been unveiled to him. “Has it been a good adventure?”
“Just the best!” Georgie said, rolling her eyes dramatically. “Ooh…Cody, I hope you like your toast…black,”
Just peachy, Cody thought sarcastically. I love my toast with a topping of charcoal! Make my morning complete!
Smoke poured from the toaster. A smoke alarm started beeping.
“I’ll fix that,” Father Scott said. “Turn the heat down a little, Georgie,”
“Oh, sure,” she replied, fiddling the knob.
Cody moaned.
Father Scott fanned the smoke away from the alarm and it stopped. “Darn thing…it’s pretty sensitive. Goes off when the bathroom gets too steamy! Now…I’ll plate up those eggs and we’ll eat!”
Cody wanted to scream at Father Scott. Isn’t she insane!? Aren’t you concerned!? Why are you being so nice to us!? Where’s the catch!? Ahhhhh! All of this came out as simply a squeak.
“I love breakfast!” Georgie cried.
“So do I,” Father Scott said. “Most important meal of the day,” He and Georgie came to the table with the food and sat down. Father Scott said a rather long, elaborate blessing over the food, and then smiled at Cody and Georgie.
Georgie smiled back.
Cody squirmed.
“I hope you two are taking care of yourselves while you’re running away,” Father Scott said.
“Oh, we are,” Georgie said. “Three square meals a day, plenty of exercise,”
“Oh, plenty,” Cody muttered, feeling a bit like an animal trapped in a cage. Georgie had just given this dude every reason in the world to call the police on them! Though he had to admit…it was kind of nice to get it off their chests and tell someone about it. Still…couldn’t she consult him before blabbing? Probably not, but Cody didn’t think about that. He was too annoyed.
Father Scott laughed. He seemed to find Georgie very funny, which pleased her immensely. She was going to be able to boast that she made priests laugh! Ha! Who else did she know who could say that?
As they ate breakfast, Georgie and Father Scott continued to talk. Cody ate his food in silence, and got over himself to some degree. He couldn’t really be mad at Georgie for having a big mouth. She didn’t mean to make him go insane…it just sort of happened.
“So, when are you two planning to go home?”
Georgie was silenced. The only sound was Father Scott chewing. Cody and Georgie looked at each other. Georgie looked away.
“Um…” Cody spoke for the first time. “We…don’t…know,”
“Any ideas?”
“Not…really,” Cody said. “I mean…we’ll probably go home…sometime,”
Father Scott frowned. And when a man that happy and cheerful (not to mention a priest) frowns at you, you feel like your soul is being scrutinized. “Why wouldn’t you go home? Don’t you miss your families? Don’t you think they’re worried about you?”
They were both totally silent.
Father Scott’s frown went away, but he didn’t smile. He looked down at his food and began eating again. “I think you should think about going home,”
“We will!” Cody blurted. “I mean…I am!”
Father Scott looked up. “Say, Georgie, if you can wait for breakfast a little longer, can you toss your jackets in the dryer? I left them sitting on the washer,”
Georgie leapt to her feet. “Sure!”
When she was gone, Father Scott set his all-seeing eyes on Cody. “What exactly are you doing, young man?”
Cody wanted to die. “Um…doing?”
“Why don’t you want to go home. Georgie doesn’t because you don’t. So why don’t you?”
Cody was feeling quite intimidated by this priest dude. “I…I…”
“Cody?”
“BecausemystupiddadleftandIcan’tdoitanymore!” Cody blurted.
Father Scott waited for the rest.
Cody sighed. “My dad left. And…my mom…everything…it just sucks. And I don’t want to live that way anymore. So…I ran away,”
 “And took your sister with you?”
“No…Georgie’s my best friend,”
“Ah,” Father Scott said. “I see.”
“It’s…its cool, y’know? Us…chilling? Without any…work…”
“Life’s more fun when it’s all about you, eh?” Father Scott’s smile returned. “I felt that way a lot when I was a teen, too,”
“It’s not like that!”
Father Scott raised his eyebrows.
“Ok…yeah…it’s…I guess it is.”
“Well, that’s going to get one of you hurt,” Father Scott said. “And I can tell you aren’t completely self-centered, Cody,”
“Oh…thank you…”
“You truly seem to care about Georgie. But you need to take it a little farther…think about what she needs and wants, even when you don’t want to or feel like it. A little compassion goes a long way. I could tell she was really bugging you,”
“That obvious, huh?”
Father Scott just smiled kindly. “She’s a talker. And a bit of a spaz. But that’s what you love about her, isn’t it?”
Cody blushed. “Yeah…I guess so…yeah.”
“Hey, Father Scott?” Georgie called from the laundry room. “Do you want me to put a dryer sheet in?”
“Sure,” he called back. He smiled at Cody. “Now. Eat your breakfast, boy.”
Georgie returned to Cody and Father Scott chatting like buddies. She slipped dramatically into her chair and announced, “I have returned,”
“No, really?” Cody asked, laughing at her.
Georgie gave him a funny look. You stopped being an antisocial moron…details?
Cody rolled his eyes. You wish.
Georgie stuck out her tongue at him and kept eating.
 
An hour later, when both of Cody’s jackets were dry, they walked upstairs to the church with Father Scott and said goodbye. Georgie gave him a rather extravagant hug, but Cody didn’t mind. Father Scott was actually pretty cool…and it also seemed he could read minds.
“So, where are you two heading off to next on your grand adventure?” Father Scott asked.
Cody and Georgie looked at each other.
Cody looked Father Scott in the eye. “Home.”
Georgie’s eyes flitted to Cody, shocked. Home? Really…really we’re going home!? She wasn’t quite sure how she felt about this spontaneous and official decision. She missed her mom so badly it hurt, but she didn’t want to face the crazy onslaught of punishment and sibling attention when she did get home.
“Glad to hear it,” Father Scott said with a smile. “You two take care. I’ll be praying for you,”
“Bye,” Georgie said as Cody opened the church doors for her. She slipped out, and Cody paused to just look at Father Scott.
“You’ve got a lot of man in you, kid,” Father Scott said. “And treat that girl right. Make your mom proud,”
Cody smiled and almost started bawling, but managed to control himself. “Will do, Sir.”
He slipped out of the church behind Georgie. Father Scott followed them, still holding his cup of coffee, and watched the two of them high five and race away down the road. He smiled, and took a sip of his coffee. “There go two of the craziest kids in the world,”
 
“Hey, Georgie?” Cody said as they left the church. “Do…you believe in God?”
Georgie frowned, looking ponderous. “Well…like, my parents take us to church every Easter, and they always tell us to say our prayers…I guess I’m kind of like…supposed to believe in God,”
They slowly began walking down the sidewalk, with nothing but a lot of walking ahead of them.
“But do you?” Cody asked.
“Yeah, I guess I do,” Georgie said. “I’d probably be dead now if there was no God,” She paused. “What about you?”
Cody was quiet for a while. “I…I don’t know,” he replied. “When…when my dad first left, and everything was so horrible…my mom kept on…you know…praying. She told me a little while back she was thinking about suicide.”
Georgie was shocked. Mrs. Ryan? Happy, strong, Mrs. Ryan? “Oh gosh…wow…”
“Yeah. But she said talking to God helped. My mom is kinda weird, I know…but she doesn’t make stuff like that up. She just said that when she was talking to God…she knew she wanted to live.”
Georgie smiled. “That’s awesome, Cody,”
Cody shrugged. “I just…I don’t know,”
“That’s ok,” Georgie said. “You don’t have to know. Faith isn’t believing in what you can see…its believing in crazy stuff…impossible stuff…stuff like God.”
Cody nodded slowly. “Faith is so…powerless. It feels…small. I mean…you just have to accept so much…I don’t get it,”
“I don’t really get it either,” Georgie said. “But…maybe your mom is right. And she loves you. That’s probably why she knew she couldn’t die,”
Cody smiled at her. “Thanks, Georgie,”
They continued on in silence, dwelling on their train of thought. Georgie realized there was a whole lot she didn’t understand…that no one understood. When she shared this with Cody, he nodded in agreement.
“Don’t think about it too much,” he warned. “Your head’ll explode,”
 
 
Chapter Fifteen
The heat was terrible. You could see it rising in waves off of cars and the sidewalk in shimmering waves. And walking through it was like torment. Georgie had a dark enough skin complexion that she was alright, but she was worried about Cody. He was wet all over from sweat and looked a little dazed. The top of his nose was sunburned by two in the afternoon.
“Do you wanna stop?” Georgie finally asked.
“Yes.” Cody replied.
They slumped down on a park bench. They were still in Des Moines, and it didn’t look like there was anywhere else to go from there. Home, yes…but how? And how many awesome stops could they afford to make along the way this time? Without money, the answer was none. And Cody was feeling too much like a roasted weenie to care too much at that point.
“So…I am hungry. And bored,” Georgie said.
“Uh huh.” Cody replied.
“I want something to drink.”
“Stop talking, Georgie,”
“Stop telling me what to do!” Georgie snapped. “You’re being mean and crabby!”
“Well you’re being loud, annoying, weird, and…”
Cody was interrupted by music…cheery, jingling music coming out of a bad sound system. Music like that can only have one origin: “Ice cream truck!”
They screamed and ran in the direction of the music like their lives depended on it. The ice cream truck, a cheery yellow box-shaped vehicle with delectable frozen goodies printed on the sides, was parked at the sidewalk. Georgie went barreling into it so fast, she left a small dent.
“Thank you!” she cried to the confused-looking ice cream truck driver. “You must be like, an angel! And this is your divine ice cream truck! Thank you!”
“Georgie!” Cody cried, grabbing her by the shoulders to restrain her. “Excuse her…she likes ice cream,”
“I…could tell,” The man said, staring at the two of them.
“Um…” Cody wanted this moment to become un-awkward…now. “I have a dollar…what will that buy two of?”
The man frowned, then smiled. “Anything in the truck, kids,” he leaned over and opened the door. “Climb on in,”
Cody looked at Georgie. They’d both heard enough don’t-talk-to-strangers and don’t-except-rides-from-strangers talks to be slightly wary of over-friendly ice cream truck drivers. But then they looked at the crunch cones and popsicles and ice cream sandwiches on the trucks, clutched their growling stomachs, and threw all caution to the winds.
Georgie gazed longingly into the freezer chest, but Cody gave her a very meaningful look. Do. Not. Go. Nuts.
So Georgie picked out a measly little Klondike ice cream sandwich, her stomach gurgling like a hot spring in Hawaii. Cody grabbed a Klondike of his own, and held the last of their money (a whopping $1.77) out to the man.
“No, no, kid…this is on the house! I like to be friendly with you kids. You can call me Doug,”
Georgie took a huge bite of her Klondike and helped herself to a second one from the case. She settled back against the side of the truck. This was going to be entertaining.
“Well…um…just let me pay you,” Cody said, holding the money out further.
“No!” Doug said, laughing.
Cody was getting a little red in the face.“You have to let us pay for our ice cream!” he said forcefully. “It’s just…the thing to do!”
“Hm. I see,” Doug said. “Well, how’s this for a deal? You man the counter. If you sell enough ice cream, won’t that pay for yours.
Cody glanced at Georgie, who had her mouth full. She raised her eyebrows innocently like this was a marvelous idea.
Cody sighed. “Ok…deal,”
So Cody went to selling ice cream. Georgie sat in the back of the truck eating ice cream and frozen treats with Doug. Being Georgie, she had soon told Doug most of her and Cody’s life story. Doug was the kind of person who doesn’t show when he is totally lost, overwhelmed and confused. He let Georgie ramble until she ran out of mango ice pop.
“So,” he said. “You two are in a bit of a tight spot, eh?”
Georgie nodded sadly. “But we’re still having fun,”
“Well, than,” Doug said. “I can probably help you two out,”
“Really?” Georgie asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “You two can sell ice cream for the rest of the day, and I’ll pay you for your work,”
“Ok!” Georgie cried.
And so, Georgie and Cody became apprentice ice cream truck staff, and they got pretty good at it. Georgie took orders and Cody filled them. Doug had his first day off on a weekday all summer. He even got a break from driving, as Cody volunteered like a helpful little elf with the help of his learners permit.
At the end of the day, they were both exhausted.
“Thank you very much, you two,” Doug said. “Good work! Here’s your paycheck,” He handed Cody a roll of bills. “And you call me when you get home and tell me all about your adventures,” He handed Georgie a card with his number on it.
“Thanks, Doug!” Georgie cried.
“Yeah, thanks for everything,” Cody said.
They waved goodbye as Doug drove off.
“Yes!” Georgie squealed. “How much money did we make?”
Cody unrolled the bills, and gasped. “Five twenties!?”
“$5.20!?” Georgie cried. “That’s only $2.60 each!”
“No…five twenty dollar bills!” Cody cried. “That’s a hundred dollars!”
They stared off in the direction Doug had driven.
“Wow,” Georgie said.

Comments

A hundred bucks?

I like this Doug person.

KatieSara | Thu, 10/07/2010

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

Haha! So do they!

Haha!

So do they!

Clare | Fri, 10/08/2010

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