Doggerel from The Seeder Journal, Vol. 28, page 702:
Oh you source of irritation
Nasty bunghole of Creation
Mining town all cold and raw
Known as mighty Tonopah
Through the war and then beyond
Were you a girl you’d be a blonde
____by Anonymous Epynonymous
“Oh, yeah,” Homer asked as an afterthought, “What am I going to be doing?”
Cory’s voice turned coy. “Do I have to tell?”
“Nope. Surprise me. I’m following your lead on this one anyway, girl. You can save an installment or two for down the road. Except I would ask this much: Is it something at least marginally related to my background? And is the climate at least a wee bit dryer than this rotten EC Sector Sixty?”
She grinned at him, happy to have questions she could answer straighforwardly. “Yes on both counts.”
“Then let’s put thing in motion. If I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m going to be doing, I’m a whole lot less likely to blab it all over the Department before I leave. I do have time to give thirty days notice?”
“Then let’s do it.”
“It” turned out to be a whirlwind of activity that left them filled with adrenaline and utterly exhausted by turns. They were secretly married in western Pennsylvania, outside of EC itself in a rural county, far enough away to hope no one would notice until after they’d left the East Coast. Each packed his/her own apartment, though they went on dumpster box hunts together, competing to see who knew the best sources, cop or journalist. It was close, so they decided to call it a draw. Nails advised the Sling Sleaze she would be roaming around the countryside for a while and was encouraged to send in freelance aticles at any time from anywhere. Railway Comedy Club management pretended to be devastated, woefully informing her that they had been going to offer her the headliner spot the following month.
She knew the comedy club manager was lying; Snorty Bull owned thirty percent of the place and wasn’t going anywhere.
At the Police Department, Sergeant Homer Arbogast put in for early retirement, citing a desire to spend time touring the country whilehe was still young enough to enjoy it. Chief Calvin Courson had him in for the usual exit interview, gave the standard speech, and wished him well in his travels. The Arbo Man decided he might miss The Frog, the great greenish Municipal Building, but he certainly would not miss the B.S. politics.
Courson, of course, no more gave a bony rat’s rear end whether or not his Senior Desk Sergeant retired than he cared about a banger’s life on the mean streets. If anything, the Chief preferred to see him go. One more spot he could fill with a bright young suckup or at least a young suckup, the bright part being optional.
Strangely, the big cop felt the most regret at leaving the Railway Restaurant. Not the Comedy Club where he’d watched his beloved’s act at least once a week, but the superior service and cuisine ramrodded by Chef Melvin.
He still hadn’t been told where they were going, but he was enjoying pitting his intuition against his bride’s “secret” and would have been hugely surprised to find his new abode in a major city. She came from Montana originally and had, in his opinion, the look of a girl who was going home. Maybe not to Montana per se, but to some place similar where people weren’t crammed together like maggots in a ten day carcass left out in the sun.
Sheba the cat showed plenty of feline curiosity as household goods found their way into a steadily growing pile of boxes, yet on the day of the actual move she hid under the bed and wouldn’t come out. The bed belonged to the apartment, so it wasn’t going anywhere. Homer found it necessary to lift the mattress and box spring in order to reach his beloved pet.
Nails rented a one way Terrific Transfer truck, a cargo van limited to ground routes and a top speed of seventy-five miles per hour even on Grade A freeways. They had discussed this, of course. He couldn’t do the renting without knowing their destination, and it was still suppposed to be a surprise. The truck’s bright blue paint job hurt his eyes unless he wore his shades constantly, but Mrs. Arbogast assured him he looked perfectly dashing in them.
Which made him want to wear them twenty-four hours a day, though he didn’t quite do that.
They took their time, able to be together in the truck cab since their flycars were lashed down on a two unit trailer behind the big truck. Nails did all the navigating, junction by junction, while the retired cop did most of the driving. They were, he felt with some justification, an extremely cool couple heading west.
And west it was, rather obviously after the first few hundred miles. With time to chat as they traveled, they decided to keep the “Nails Hendrix” moniker quiet in their new home area whenever they arrived, much as she had done in EC. To the public, she would be known as Mrs. Cory Arbogast.
Along the way, she dropped a hint here and a hint there.
“It does pay more than you were making at the PD.”
“Do you have any objection to Security work?”
“How do you feel about casinos?”
Things like that. She also explained certain names used by her family, believing it was safe to speak openly on the assumption that the truck was not bugged…although they did set up two portable scramblers just in case.
“My cousin and I use antique cars to code our names just because–well, just because. We started doing it when we were way young and it carried forward. See, last time we needed to change identity, we went with Toyota as the base car because it started with a T and for the previous go-round we’d used the S category–Studebaker. So by our childhood rules, our first names had to start with the name of an actual Toyota model from the twentieth or twenty-first century. Thus, Corolla for me, Camry for her.”
“This change put her into the V category, since we skip vowels on general principle. It could have been Volkswagen, but she didn’t feel much like being called either Bug or Rabbit, and Jetta was just too…I dunno, New Agey maybe. So she went with Volvo.
“I don’t know any of these names, ” Homer admitted, shaking his head. “What were you girls, history nuts or car nuts?”
“Car history nuts. Ask me about the Chevy El Camino and the Ford Ranchero sometime. Anyway, Volvo was her choice but Volvo gives you a problem. See, their models were hardly ever designated by name but only by number. Still, she’s pretty sneaky and she figured out a way, although she had to waive the rule about starting each first name with an actual model. She picked the 789 and came with aliases for all three members of her little household. Seven became Sven instead of Garrett. Eight became Kate, the former Camry, and Nine became Nina. That last one was kind of iffy because Nina used to be named Tina, and that’s awfully close. But Sven, who does make the final decisions in that family, decided that if somebody tumbled to them because of that, their cover was already blown anyway, so they went with it.”
“Hm.” Homer lit a cigar and cracked the driver side window to draw out the smoke. After several puffs, he commented, “Sven may make the decisions, but it sounds like your cousin…ah…Kate, you said…influences the boy just a tad. Sort of like you do me. You know, the way a buffalo stampede influences a prairie dog town.”
“You don’t think I run over you, do you, Homey?” She sounded stricken.
“Gotcha.” He patted her hand in reassurance. “No, baby. I just think you have a lot of good ideas to go along with your obvious charms.”
“Oh.” Her voice went soft. “I like that.”
They didn’t hurry. This was their honyemoon, and if they felt like taking an extra day here and there to relax and recreate, they did so. Still, they inevitably covered a lot of ground. At 2:10 p.m. on September third, they topped the final rise and looked down on the sunbaked town of Tonopah, Nevada.
“Looks like the bunghole of Creation,” Homer muttered.
“It is,” his wife agreed cheerfully. “Welcome home, honey.”