Beverly and I had a successful holiday shopping expedition yesterday. Some might argue that the ability to just walk into any store you want and walk out without having to worry about money somehow cheapens the meaning. But they have never had to worry about being eaten on the way to the mall. Boliver is southeast of Stockton, well away from the settlement in Springfield, so we headed there. Beverly told me there was a Wal-Mart there and just about everyone in Stockton would go there for anything they could not get at Dollar General or Woods Market.
Dee was initially upset that we did not take her with us but Jewels pacified her by promising to play one of her new Disney movies and some Tom & Jerry cartoons.
By the time we made it to Boliver I had pretty much blabbed my life story to her. She listened quietly, asking gentle prodding questions when I lapsed into silence. I even told her of the nightmare I had when Dee was taken.
The stretch of road between the Stockton and Boliver has already been cleared by Mike and Billy in the tow truck. Evidence suggested that Billy used some creative methods for removing some of the vehicles. Recently burned and blown up vehicles littered the road along MO-32. At least there were signs that one of them had the good sense to use a fire extinguisher.
At Wally World we found everything on our lists. I think we went a little overboard on gifts for Dee. Candyland, a personal video player loaded with a little over a hundred Disney movies and cartoons, about four dozen plush animals, a pink Power Wheels Corvette and a sturdy rechargeable flashlight/lantern. Her fear of the dark has magnified to epic proportions since our incident in that basement on Chestnut.
Several times I caught Beverly staring at me. I have to admit that I am finding her more attractive the more time I spend with her. I don't know what she sees in me though. I guess when the only other males around are a skinny 17 year old boy, a 77 year old man, Billy Parsnips and a 47 year old married man. Stacked up against them I guess I do look pretty good.
I remember holding a big stuffed dog with floppy ears up and asking Beverly If she thought Dee would like it. Beverly said she did not know which was cuter, the dog or me. She left the already overflowing shopping carts and moved in closer to look at the dog, or so I presumed, but when she leaned in to read the tag, she kissed me instead. It was shy and tentative at first, but it quickly became more aggressive. I don't even know who started undressing who first. I vaguely remember thinking that it was dangerous to allow ourselves to get this distracted. Afterwards we found it difficult to imagine giving any of the remaining stuffed animals to Dee. They had all been witnesses. The ones in the cart were still innocent as there was no way they could have seen. Sometimes I think I watched Toy Story too many times as a kid.
She retrieved my cane and helped me to my feet. Yes, I am using a cane. May be for a while too, at least till my leg heals a little better. But it's a helluva nice cane though. Jewels made it for me. Sledgehammer handle with a U-haul 2 5/16" quick change tow ball for the head. Makes a real comfortable grip.
We also found a 12 year old girl coming in the main entrance of the Wal-Mart. She was carrying a toddler in camouflage Kangaroo pouch and an M-16 slung over her shoulder. I did not even know they made those Kangaroo pouches in camo. As soon as she saw me she brought the gun up and chambered a round. The only thing that kept her from cutting me in half with a stream of bullets from the M-16 was Beverly's presence. I have found on more than one occasion a woman or child's appearance can have a calming influence.
Her name is Stacy Phillips. Once she found out we had no hostile intentions she was eager to talk. She has been taking care of the boy since she found him at the hospital. He was just three months old when she found him. She was in the ER after bumping her head on a side pillar of mother's minivan. According to his wristband his name was Dean Griffitts. She did not know why he was there, but her and Dean were the only ones in St. Johns' Hospital in Lebanon. She fled Lebanon, not because of wraiths, though she has since encountered them, but because the town's one remaining survivor thought that God had left her there as a reward for wishing the human vermin off his Garden. He called her Eve and tried to take her back to his "Garden of Eden". She grabbed a toaster that had been knocked out of a wrecked moving van. Using the cord to swing it by, she beat him senseless and made her escape. That was when she started carrying the M-16 wherever she went. It really came in handy the first time she met a wraith.
She and the baby are in great shape, both clean and well fed. She is driving a damn SWAT van that she gasses up from gas syphoned off from other cars. There is even a proper car seat belted into the passenger seat. The van does not have airbags so I guess that is ok. She was a little reluctant to come with us till I assured her that we would not be forcing her to give up Dean. She has become rather attached to him and has done a fine job taking care of him. But to be perfectly honest, I think she would take a crowbar to my knees if I tried. That girl had mean streak to her. Kinda reminds me of a younger version of Katherine. But I guess that is what it takes to survive now.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride