So you drive the Lalondes to the train station, and then you drive back to Houston alone. Just you, your truck, and your road trip playlist. It’s pretty restful, actually. Much as you enjoyed shooting the shit with Dirk on the way out, having some alone time is nice. You nap for a couple hours in the leaned-back passenger seat at a rest stop in Louisiana, wake up when sunrise starts cooking you through the windows, and get back on the road.
You cross the river around lunchtime, musing on whether you want to eat out, order in, or cook something. As you approach the junction with 610, it occurs to you that you could go take care of that Galveston errand right now. On the one hand, you’re pretty tired, and the truck’s AC is starting to struggle. On the other hand, if you get it out of the way you won’t have to deal with it later, and it’ll be cooler by the ocean.
Yeah. Sure. What the hell. You take the southbound exit.
It’s more of a drive than you expected; the place is way out on the west part of the island, a tall, stilt-legged house on a shallow bayou. As you pull into the palm-shaded driveway you catch a glimpse of a boathouse and dock out back. Nice, you guess, but it doesn’t say ‘prince’ or ‘hipster’ or ‘attention whore’ in any way you can detect. What it says to you is ‘retired dentist from Baltimore who keeps talking about marlin fishing but never actually uses his boat for anything but sunbathing’.
And there’s a for-sale sign in the yard.
Before you reach the door, you can see through the front window that there’s no furniture inside. You ring the doorbell anyway. Not that you actually think he’s sold his furniture and is camping out in an upstairs bedroom with nothing but a futon and a milk crate, but you know if you don’t at least make a little noise here you’re going to wonder later.
After you’ve been ringing the bell for a few minutes, an old lady in a hibiscus-print dress comes out of the house next door. “There’s brochures in the sale sign,” she shrills urgently as she hurries to the hedge, as if you’re going to set the place on fire if she doesn’t get to you in time.
You give her your best old-lady-melting smile. It doesn’t work as well at 21 as it did at 12, but it hasn’t completely lost effectiveness. “Actually, I’m looking for the guy whose house this is. Do you know where he moved to?”
She purses her lips suspiciously. “Are you sure you have the right house, honey? This fella was one of those fish people from outer space.”
“Zigzag horns, likes the color purple? Yeah, that’s him. He kind of pulled a vanishing act and his friends are worried.”
She gives an exaggerated shrug. “Maybe he went back to outer space!”
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