Saturday, October 29, 2016

Light Ray Blues, Series 2, Instalment 18: Eats

In the last mind-blowing instalment, Ed, Leslie and Mary were finally reunited and speeding their way to Gordoborough. I hope the tires are good because there's no stopping now . . . 

Heff’s is a sprawling truck stop just outside of Gordoborough. It serves both the highway crowd and the medium short line freight train tier of the InterTrak. There’s parking for around a thousand cars, a hundred Quik-Charge booths, a complex InterTrak switching network and sidings complete with its own Rail Traffic Control Centre, and even mooring masts for small blimps. But most importantly, there’s a restaurant serving the best eggs anywhere. That’s why we were here.

We straggled out of the car and got a booth in the cavernous dining area. The service at Heff’s is fast, I’ll give ‘em that. No sooner had we plopped into our seats our attentive waitress had menus and a gallon jug of coffee on the table. Heff’s waitresses excel in mind reading. I guess we babbled some order to her, or maybe she just used her psychic powers to divine it, either way, we were soon gorging like starving cats. Restaurant at the End of the Universe? Hell, this restaurant was the centre of the universe.

After we’d downed copious amounts of coffee, eggs, ham, bacon, beans, grits and whatever else was heaped on our plates along with the Boomer Breakfast, we started to feel the life force return.

Leslie pointed her fork at some untouched slices of toast on my plate and asked, “Are you going to eat those?”

“No, go ahead.”

I pushed my plate a little towards her and she took them. After spreading some marmalade on a slice, Leslie asked Mary, “What time did you say they took you?”

“Around 8pm Tuesday,” answered Mary. 

Leslie nodded and bit into her toast.

Mary looked down at her demolished plate and continued on in an absentminded tone like she was repeating something she had gone over and over in her head, “I was taking the garbage out to the curb. A car drove up with two guys inside. One driving and the other in the passenger seat. The passenger rolled down the window and asked how to get to the hospital. I walked over and stood beside the passenger’s window. He pulled out a map and showed it to me. I leaned down to take a closer look. Before I knew what was happening, he grabbed me, stabbed my arm with a needle-gun and injected something. All I remember was falling over and then waking up duct-taped in wheelchair. I was in some storage room. Turned out it was a freight holding area and they wheeled me into that train as soon as it arrived. I never left the train and never knew where we were going or stopping. I had no idea we stopped in Ottawa”

Mary had already told us this account several times in various ways, but it hadn’t yet lost its power. We were probably going to hear it lots more. 

After eating a few bites of toast, Leslie asked, “I don’t understand, why the diversion to Ottawa?”

Mary had a quick answer, “I think they wanted to take me to some facility there. They wanted you there too Leslie, but your friend here threw a wrench in their plans when he showed up instead of you.” She nodded in my direction.

Leslie saluted me with her toast.

“I guess when they saw me at Lester’s they improvised from there on,” I added.

“Those guys took your keys too?”, asked Leslie.

“Yeah, they took all the stuff I had on me.”

“They’re pretty decent improvisors. The hotel name and room number were on the key fob. I guess they decided to poke around the hotel and see what they could find,” said Leslie.

“And they found you.”

Leslie smiled, “Image their surprise. Thinking they’d find fusor things stuffed in your luggage with your undies, but instead found me with my finger on the trigger of my constant companion.”

I stiffened. “You don’t still have that gun do you?”

“Don’t worry, it’s just a replica. Doesn’t work.”

“Doesn’t matter. You’ll get yourself killed with that thing or tossed in jail. A gun’s a gun, real, replica or whatever. You’ve got to get rid of it.”


I think Leslie gave in so easily just to end my preachy conversation. 

There was a bit of a long, uncomfortable silence. I sipped some coffee. Maybe the food hadn’t completely mellowed me out. Leslie was taking too many risks with that toy gun of hers.

Thankfully Mary got things back on track and continued with Leslie, “Whoever they are, they know you pretty well and knew you’d come to my house to look for me. I don’t think they know where you live, so the whole thing was some weird Where’s Waldo test where I was Waldo. I guess if they knew where you were in New Toronto, they’d have just kidnapped you too.”

Leslie put down her toast and added, “Your Cobs’ Corners cops said you weren’t kidnapped, or even a missing person. Once they figured out the severed thumb was plastic, they thought this was some sort of prank. You’re an adult after all and weren’t officially missing yet just because you didn’t show up for work one morning,” said Leslie.

“Great.” replied Mary.

“The cops had a we-are-dealing-with-hysterical-women tone to their conversation once their cop doc told them the thumb was fake,” added Leslie.

Leslie’s gun thing had made me a little hysterical, but I was a bit calmer now and asked Leslie, “Where do you live?”

Leslie smiled and replied, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, I think we should lay low for a day or two to figure things out. We could go to your place since it looks like they don’t know anything about your habits, or we could go to my trolley shed, but there aren’t any amenities there. We shouldn’t go back to Mary’s or the lab. Especially not the lab”. I turned to Mary and added, “You’ve got a spy on your team. How else would these people know what you’re doing with fusors and that you were meeting Leslie.”

Mary nodded. “I’ve been thinking that too, but I didn’t want to believe it.”

Maybe I was refueled after all. I felt I was on a roll, “And come to think of it, when I visited Adams in the hospital he mentioned that his daughter had some sort of government job in Ottawa.”

“That might explain the Ottawa connection. Father and daughter in cahoots?”, mused Leslie.

“Who knows, but it seems fishy.”

Fish. Turns out Heff’s was offering a side of fresh caught pickrel with the Boomer Breakfast, but I didn’t have room for any more. I thought of getting some to go.

“I called Frank Madwood last night and asked him to meet us at the lab at 7 tonight. I’ll have to call him back and cancel,” said Leslie.

“Who’s he?” I asked.

“He made some fusor parts for us when the prototypes were still handmade. He told me something weird when I called. Some woman had come to his office a few days ago with a box of parts she thought was a model that her husband couldn’t build and she hired Frank to put it together. Turns out it was a box of junk, but with fusor parts mixed in.”

“Well, we certainly need to meet him.”

Leslie thought for a moment.

I drank some more coffee. So did Mary.

“How far is your shed?”, asked Leslie.

“Couple of hours?”, was my tentative reply.

“Let’s go there. Is that ok with you Mary?”

“Sure. Safer than my place. It’ll be good to disappear on my own terms for awhile,” replied Mary.

“Ok. We’ll need some supplies,” I said.

“There’s a general store here, and there’s a rental exchange here too. We’ll leave the car and swap for a rail-ute. Can you figure out how to use the InterTrak to get to your shed?”, asked Leslie.

“I’ll ask the agent.”

“I’ll call Frank and ask him to meet us at your place,” said Leslie.

Mary and I started to make motions to get up and leave, but Leslie stayed put, picked up the menu, and asked,“Is that pickerel?”

Instalment 19 can be found here.

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