Kayla revved the engine, laughed aloud at the roar and revved it again before heading for Saginaw Road. “Which way?” she asked Danny.
“Hold on,” he said, fishing a quarter out of his pocket. “Heads east -– like the band, get it? –- tails west.” He flipped heads.
“Great,” she said, pulling up to the stop sign. “Give me a second while I remember which way east is.”
As she pulled into traffic, liking the stares the venom red car drew, Danny mock protested. “How can you be navigator if you can’t tell the difference between east and west?”
“I’m not navigator,” she said. “You’re the passenger; you navigate. We’re coming up on Eastman; which way?”
He flipped again, proclaiming heads south and landing on tails this time. She glared until he consented to point the way.
“I thought you said major intersections,” he said.
“That one’s major.”
“Yeah, but we can’t do that constantly. I thought you said like at highway junctions.”
“OK, but how will we pick then? We can’t just stay on highways; all we’ll see is concrete and signs.”
“Fine,” Danny said. “We’ll use the coin for big direction changes, and negotiate for the rest.”
Kayla thought about it. “OK, on two conditions. One, we use words like ‘left’ and ‘right,’ and with enough warning I can get in the right lane in time.”
“The correct lane?”
“You know what I mean. And two, the coin can be a tiebreaker, like if we can’t decide where to eat.”
“Cool. Flipping now because we’re at U.S. 10 … and east, or right for the directionally impaired. And we stay on this until I-75, OK?”
“OK. Hey, potential problem.”
“The coin solves all,” he told her in his best mystical voice.
She shook her head. “Not all. We can’t go to Canada. We don’t have those passport cards. I don’t, anyway.”
He sighed. “Remember when you could cross the border easier than getting into an R-rated movie as a kid?”
She laughed. “My friend Laura and I were in downtown Detroit and had time to kill, so we hopped over the border and back, but we didn’t have any ID for her son when we came back in. They asked what we’d been doing and as soon as we said he’d been playing hockey at the Joe that morning, that was all they wanted to talk about.”
Danny watched her. “Do you wish you had kids?”
“What makes you so sure I don’t?”
He stopped and she could see him searching for the right reply, and bailed him out. “I don’t. And I guess if I’d met the right person it would have come up, but it didn’t. After a while, I figured it was one of those things I’d have to do without. I’ve watched my friends and it’s hard enough with two people; I never wanted to do it alone. Besides, my friends have generous loaner programs.”
“You mean, ‘free babysitter sucker programs.'”
She grinned. “Occasionally it gets that way. But see, I’m the babysitter. When they’re getting obnoxious, I can bribe them with staying up late watching garbage like Adam Sandler movies. Their parents have to deal with the aftermath.
“And what about you?” she asked pointedly. “Scatter any offspring about?”
He shook his head. “I have a few friends who have kids. I get jealous sometimes.”
“That’s a very girly thing to say.”
“That’s a very sexist thing to say,” he replied, and she laughed. “I was just messing,” she said, smiling at him, partly at the tweak and partly because she was so happy. Tonight was the most she’d laughed in a while.
“Speaking of nightfall,” she said, “when do you want to stop?”
“You’re the cruise director,” he said.
“No, the coin is. But if you leave it to me, I’m not stopping until we hit the state line.”
He shifted his seat back a bit. “OK by me. Drive on, James.”
The quarter came out again at I-75, and dictated south, which Kayla could handle just fine because of the huge signs. They flipped for staying or turning at I-69 and ended up staying on 75, but split at the U.S. 23 junction.
“Ugh, Ohio,” Kayla said.
Danny studied the atlas. “Not necessarily. We’ve got 96 and 94 yet.”
She shook her head. “It’s getting late. I just want to get out of Michigan and start fresh in … what, Toledo?”
He consulted the atlas again. “This thing takes up a lot of room,” he said. “Sylvania, it looks like, actually.”
“Fine,” she said. “Executive decision by the cruise director. First non-scary-looking place in Sylvania is where we stop for the night.”
“If it looks like a set for a horror movie, we move on. If all the room doors open onto a parking lot, we move on. If there’s a loud party in the parking lot, we move on.”
“This drive is going to take a lot longer if you insist on standards.”
“I’ve got nothing but time,” Kayla said, still managing a smile.
The next chapter is based on these questions (and the suggestions that were e-mailed, thank you very much).
On Sunday, should they go to Indiana?
132 votes went like this:
Yes: 42.42 percent (56 votes)
No: 57.58 percent (76 votes)
133 votes went like this:
Yes: 48.12 percent (64 votes)
No: 51.88 percent (69 votes)
129 votes went like this:
Yes: 49.61 percent (64 votes)
No: 50.39 percent (65 votes)
127 votes went like this:
Yes: 33.07 percent (42 votes)
No: 66.93 percent (85 votes)
Should her mother join them at some point?
134 votes went like this:
Yes, at some midpoint: 2.99 percent (4 votes)
Yes, toward the end: 55.22 percent (74 votes)
No: 41.79 percent (56 votes)
How much fast food is involved?
133 votes went like this:
Quite a bit; spend the time on the road: 6.02 percent (8 votes)
About once a day: 14.29 percent (19 votes)
No way; soak up the local flavors: 79.7 percent (106 votes)
There is of course a teeny problem. They’ll be in Ohio, and from there aside from Michigan there are four bordering states … and you’ve ruled out all of them. Since West Virginia was least objectionable, they’ll scoot through it quickly on the way somewhere else.
This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.