On the way to the hot springs, we stopped in Pleasant Valley. There was a plane, upside down in a field. A few people gathered around. There was a cop car and an ambulance parked on the grass. We walked up to the plane.


A sheriff came over. He had a round gut and aviator glasses, like an actor playing a sheriff. “You can’t be here,” he said. He put his hand over Lola’s phone. “No pictures, you gotta go.” “Is the pilot okay?”

He escorted us back.


“Yes,” he said, “He was wearing his seatbelt.”


We found a deli, where we split a sandwich. Turkey and avocado on rye. Next to the deli was a sign. It said, Pharmacy, Magic Rx.


There was medical equipment on display on the sidewalk, with American flags and balloons. Inside were aisles of scalpels and scissors, small plastic-wrapped utensils. Rows of wheelchairs, walkers and crutches. At the back of the store were magic tricks. Round eggs and balls, a pen that goes through your hand.


There was a small booth, like one at a carnival. A magician stood there smiling. “Would you like to see a trick?” he said.

“Yes,” we said. He folded a dollar into a tiny wad, and then it disappeared. It reappeared from his pocket. He opened it up, put a knife through it, and showed us the hole. When he took out the knife, with great celebration, he showed us there was no hole.


At the front of the store, above the cashier, sat two ventriloquist dummies. “How much are they?” I asked.

“Ninety a pair.”


“Can we buy them separately?” “No,” he said, “They’re brothers.”



He sat them on the counter. They wore suits, with red and green bowties. They had oily black hair, parted to the side like businessmen.


We brought them to the car and put them in the backseat. We decided to name them “Those Two.”


The sun was bright red. We passed hills full of trees and windmills. Those Two were in back, open-mouthed and cheerful. Their view, the center of the dashboard.


We stopped at a bar, a small bar, with red carpet covering the walls. Tinsel was draped over the doorways. A gold-laced mirror hung behind the liquor. There was a TV mounted from the ceiling, playing a black and white picture of a strip show.


A boy sat down. He looked young, like a virgin, with a face I would never remember. He simply had features. He put his elbows on the counter, his eyes half open.


“I’m Andrew,” he said. “What?”

“William,” he said.


“You’re name is Andrew William?” “You can call me that.”

“Do you live around here?” “No. My dad does.”

“Do you live with your dad?” “I’m staying with him for now.”

We all did a shot of Patron, and then we did a few more. Andrew William put his face close to Lola’s.

“I want to kiss you both.”


Lola laughed. We went to the bathroom. It was down a long hallway. When we came out, Andrew William was waiting.



“I want to kiss you,” he said to Lola. “Okay Andrew William, kiss me.”

He fell asleep on a bench in the corner. The bartender said he does that. “He seems lonely,” I said.

Before we left, we unbuckled Those Two. They shared a seatbelt in the middle. Lola carried one and I carried the other. We sat them on two chairs facing Andrew William.


We turned off the 101, onto the long driveway, to the front desk of the Madonna Inn.

Please reload