January 15th, 1989

January 15th, 1989
Orlando, Florida
Comfort Inn Hotel

Leisurely breakfast at Wags this morning, after which, the plan was to drive to Cocoa Beach, and go to Ron Jon’s Surf shop. But, it didn’t work out like that.

Off we went, in search of Cocoa Beach, and for some crazy reason, I thought I’d remember the way, until it occurred to me, that when I’d gone with Gabriel and Liza, we’d left from their house, which isn’t anywhere near our hotel. Still, I figured I’d recognize some landmarks, so I pointed Pamsy, in what I thought, was the right direction.

About an hour later, we found ourselves on a stretch of open road, with not much around us. I turned on the radio, and clicked through the stations, but all I could find was country music, and no shortage of preachers, suggesting we repent our sins.

With each mile, the areas became less populated, and buildings were scarce, except for several churches, with sprawling car parks, that looked full to capacity, being a Sunday and all. Pamsy said we should probably stop for petrol, and soon thereafter, we came upon a tiny garage.

We pulled in, and I thought the place was closed, because there were no other cars.
“How does this work?” Pamsy asked.
“When I was with Miriam, she paid first, then filled up.”
“Is this place even open?” Pamsy asked, as we got out of the car.

Inside, were two men, dressed in dungarees, sitting on stools, not doing anything in particular.
“Oh, hello,” Pamsy chirped.
They looked equally gormless, as they looked up at us.
“We’d like to get some petrol, oh sorry, I mean, gas, please,” she said in her sunny voice.
The younger man got up, and slithered his way to behind the counter. He was chewing on something, wearing a t-shirt that had, maybe, at some point in the beginning of its life, been white
“How much petrol do you think we’ll need?” Pamsy asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said, looking around. The older man was still sitting on the stool, staring at us. When I caught his eye, he said, “boy howdy.”
I thought that might be a greeting for hello, so I smiled and said, “how do you do.”
He didn’t respond.

“We’ll take fifty dollars of petrol, sorry, gas, please,” Pamsy said, handing over the cash.
Dirty t-shirt continued chewing (no idea what) with his mouth open, and put the bills in a drawer (no cash register.)
“Thank you,” Pamsy smiled. “Shall we just get the petrol, sorry, gas, ourselves?”
“Uh-huh,” was all he said.

Pamsy fiddled with the petrol cap and nozzle, and from the other side of the car, I quietly said, “I think we just went down the rabbit hole.”
“I know,” she said through her teeth.
“Can you see them, inside the shop?”
“You mean the shack, yeah, they’re staring out at us.”
“Flash them your biggest smile, honey,” I said, sounding like Misty again.
Pamsy obliged, and the petrol stopped pumping.
“Why did it stop?” I asked.
“Tank must already be filled,” she said, and started laughing.
“What?” I asked.’
“Look,” she said, pointing to the display. “It only took four dollars’ worth. Which means you need to go back inside and get our change from tweedledee.”
“No way, I’ll never be able to keep a straight face.”
“Yes you will, go on, sort them out.”

When I came out, with our forty-six dollars worth of change, Pamsy was in the passenger seat.
“What are you doing sitting there?”
“This is a good road for you to drive on.”
“You must be kidding, I haven’t driven since I passed my test a few months ago.”
“All the more reason to get behind the wheel.”
“You’ll have to help me,” I said, reluctantly getting in on the driver’s side.
“Of course I will.”
When I turned the key, the seatbelts activated, and attempted to strangle us.
“I hate how they do that automatically,” Pamsy said. “And this lap belt is such a palava.”
“I’m really nervous,” I said, adjusting the mirrors.
“Trust me, automatics are easy to drive, you’ll be fine. Start, by keeping your foot on the brake, and move the, oh shit…”
“What?”
“Give it some welly,” she shouted, “here comes tweedledum.”

I screeched out of the garage, and Pamsy clutched her hands to the side of her seat. “Crikey,” she said, cracking up laughing. “I think you’ve got this.”
“I’m still nervous,” I said, clutching at the wheel.
“You’ll be fine, just keep your eye on the road.”

After I’d been driving for a while, we went through a slightly more populated area.
“We should probably get on this motorway, coming up,” she said, pointing to the sign.
“Shit. You want me to keep driving? I haven’t driven on the motorway yet.”
“You’re doing brilliant.”

No sooner had I pulled onto the motorway, when I spotted the sign for Daytona Beach.
“Look at that,” I said. “It’s not the beach we set out to find, but I know a Mexican place here, that I think you’ll like.”
“Get you,” Pamsy said, with a big smile on her face.

 

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