There were worms crawling on the ceiling. They differed from the ones Drew could feel crawling under his shoulder in ways too easily explained by scientific things like distance for him to easily dismiss. Drew lifted his hand for comparison. The fingers looked like worms.
“Looks like you’re having a hallucination,” Trent said. He hovered over the cot where Drew spent the night. Drew didn’t dare look at him, in case the old man had worms, too.
“It’s ‘AN hallucination, Dear,” Sonoma said as she passed behind him.
Trent flapped a hand at her. Drew got the impression they’d had that argument over the course of many years – so long it was more habit than significant.
“The more you worry about it, the worse they get,” Trent said. “It’s best to just let it roll. Eventually the truth will come out.”
“He means hallucinations don’t last.” Sonoma peeked over Trent’s shoulder.
Drew looked directly at them without thinking. To his relief, neither of the septuagenarian’s faces, fingers, or anything else had worms. He looked at his own hand. The worms were gone. The ones on the ceiling turned out to be ceiling tile. As to his shoulder…. he sat up and pointed at it.
“Is there anything on my back?”
“Just your plaid, my dear.” Sonoma went back to shuffling around the room.
“My…? Oh. My shirt.” Drew adjusted the long sleeved flannel. It was a ‘loan’ from Trent, or maybe a gift. It had been offered so off-handedly that Drew wasn’t sure which.
“Did you think about what we said last night?” Sonoma halted in front of her suitcase. She stood in front of it with a fist full of fabric, stiff-necked, waiting for his answer.
“You mean the thing about going home with you?”
“Yeah. That thing.” She stuffed the fabric into the suitcase.
“I hate to press you, son, but it’s already 10am and we want to get home before dark.” Trent straightened with a wince. His back didn’t actually creak or pop, but must have felt like it.
“I thought Montana was only a few miles away,” Drew rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, grateful that little crusties were all he found.
“Montana, sure, but we’re going to Missoula. It’s 310, almost 320 miles. Not far in the Summer, but there’s snow on the road and the sun sets around five this time of year.” Trent shuffled over to his own suitcase. He grabbed a shaving kit next to it and shoved it in.
“At least we aren’t going from the other end of the state. That’s 600 miles. Drew, if you aren’t going with us, I’ll mix up some of that stuff I gave you last night and leave it with you.” She was already moving scoops of leaves from one plastic baggy to another.
“I’m coming with.” He shoved himself to his feet. He had slept in jeans and flannel. His shoes were under the cot. While the old folks closed up their bags, he put on his socks and shoes. Everything else was already in his backpack.
A year ago it would have been hard to imagine he’d do something like this. Throwing his lot in with a couple of old hippies was not his style. Or it hadn’t been. But now they looked like salvation.
He slung his pack onto his back, and looked around expectantly. “I’m ready.”
Trent and Sonoma looked up, surprised, then smiled. In half an hour they were all in the Vanagon, heading West.
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