Patrick heard the first chapter of, The Perfect Storm, while cruising around the countryside with his friend, Millie. And was instantly hooked.
Before stumbling upon her RAV4 parked in his garage with the radio tuned to NPR, he would never have known such worlds existed.
One sunny and breezy, autumn afternoon, he was napping under the seat of his favorite driver, when she opened the door and jumped in behind the wheel.
He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Apparently, they were going somewhere.
Millie turned on the radio and it was time for, a chapter a day. So they listened to a story about an Indian named Little Hawk and a wolf. The chapter ended just as Millie pulled into her sister’s driveway, and Louisa hopped in.
“My ears are still ringing,” Patrick complained to his mother as he recounted the historical afternoon a few hours later from behind a pile of crap on the lower shelf in their garage. “Those women are nuts!”
His mother shook her head. “How many times have I told you to stay out of that woman’s car! She chopped your Uncle Leo into a million pieces. Remember?”
But Patrick was not about to let a murder, if it even was a murder, ruin his life. Why would Uncle Leo run toward the heater fan anyway?
“I was dying of thirst,” he went on. “Millie’s citrus water had dribbled down the side of the bottle. If only she hadn’t taken the wrong turn. I could have probably waited for those girls to get out of the car.”
“What did you do?”
“Well, in order to stave off dehydration, which you always tell me is important, I climbed up on Millie’s lap.”
“You did not!”
“Well, I did. And she freaked out,” he said. “I forgot that even though I consider Millie to be my friend, she doesn’t really care for mice. And she went totally ballistic. So I was trying to get out of her sight. She could have killed us all. I jumped over to the other seat. But her sister comes from the same mold. She freaked out too.”
“Patrick John, what in Sam Hill were you thinking? They are not your friends.”
“To make matters worse, the damn light was stuck on red.”
Patrick ignored the reprimand and continued. “Her sister sprang out of her seat belt and was pressed up against the window trying to wrap her feet around her head. Then they were both hollering. I was afraid my ear drums would break, so I decided to make a jump for it. But zipping through Louisa’s hair to get to the window was not the best idea. Not only was the no seat belt alarm beeping insanely, their screams reached another level.”
“You were going to jump out the window?” said his mother. “Into traffic?”
“I would have. But the damn thing was closed.”
“For the love of God!”
“So I slid into the hood of Louisa’s jacket. I figured if I hid in there everybody would just calm down.”
“Did it work?”
“No. Millie spotted me.”
“I swear to God Mom, she almost shit her pants. And just as she broke the news to her sister that I was sitting on her sister’s shoulder, the light turned green. We went through that intersection like screaming gangbusters. I tell ya, the mouths on those two. Unbelievable. And they were hollering awful things about me. Like I was some kind of a monster.”
“Where are those bitches now?” said his mother, narrowing her eyes.
“I don’t know. Last I saw, they went into Menards. Louisa’s husband came while they were inside. He drove me back to Louisa’s house. And then Sven, Millie’s husband showed up at Louisa’s house with a silver box that smelled like peanut butter. He set it on the passenger seat and drove me the rest of the way home.”
“Patrick, that’s it. You stay out of Millie’s car from now on. Do you understand me?”
“Yep,” he said, hanging his head.
“Look at me. Do you?”
“Yes,” he answered.
But deep down Patrick knew that he had to know what would become of Little Hawk and the wolf.
That is why each night since the incident he says this little prayer.
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep. And that someday Millie will go back inside her RAV4. Amen.”