Betsy Shebang - Column for 5/7

Chapter 17

"The best way to describe it is to say I believe in The Force."

"Like, from Star Wars?" I asked.

Eugeneís voice got a little louder and sharper. "Star Wars is the only movie to ever take religion seriously without trying to change the audienceís minds about anything."

"Huh," I said.

"Itís just the idea Iím talking about. Iím not saying the movie is real or anything. Itís not like I saw Top Gun and ran out and joined the military."

I wanted to say something back, but I didnít know what it was. I wondered if Shauna looked disappointed, now that Eugene had fully emerged from the geek closet. I couldnít see her.

"Not everybody gets it when I talk about it," he said.

"Actually, it kinda makes sense to me," I suggested. Iím not sure if I meant it or I just wanted to make Eugene feel less defensive. He didnít say anything else about it.

We spent the next few hours sitting next to the car. Every few minutes somebody would say something and one or two of us would turn toward the others, and then weíd all look back at the road in the distance, as if we were watching some very very slow sports event that was tense but not exciting. Finally I got up and dug some energy bars, a can of soup, and some vegetable juice out of the back of the car. Eating seemed to calm everybody down, probably because we were all hungry and nobody had any better ideas.

Shauna became restless after we ate. Eugene stretched his back and asked her "What are you thinking about?"

Shauna shuffled in her seat and grumbled "Iím wishing we were near a bathroom." She turned to scan my side of the horizon.

Eugene rocked himself forward and stood up to look over the roof of the car, saying "Yeah. Or even a tree to pee behind."

I glanced at Shauna. She looked like sheíd just arrived on death row.

"Shauna, have you ever...peed outside?" I asked, looking at the ground in front of me.

"Itís not like I havenít had the opportunity," she said with a grimacing sigh. "Itís a different thing for girls, you know."

I chuckled. "Well, sometimes things happen for a reason." I glanced around into the distance as I spoke. The shadow of the car was getting longer. "So, maybe the reason youíre here is that you need to experience what itís like to pee outdoors."

Shauna bristled. "The reason weíre stuck out here is, you were acting like a fucking idiot."

I had no response, other than instantly becoming convinced that we were both right. I decided that Shaunaís bladder was not my problem.

Eugene calmly asked "Toby...what were you going to do if we left you out here?" The angrier Shauna got, the more Eugene sounded like a therapist.

I said "Pretty much what Iím doing now."

"Were you going to kill yourself?"

"I was not going to kill myself."

"So whyíd you come out here?"

I took a deep breath. "I wanted to get away from you."

Eugene looked at the ground. Not like he was sorry. It was hard to think of things to say, and we had plenty of time not to say them.

I said "You ever see The Last Temptation of Christ?"

"What about it?"

"Thereís a part where Jesus draws a circle in the sand and waits for God to give him answers."

"You drove out here to do that?"

"I drove out here because you were pissing me off."

"So have you been given any answers since we got out here?"

"Well, the plan kinda changed when I...broke the car." I was getting angry again.

Shauna stood up and brushed herself off, saying "Okay, you two have to stay right here." She pointed at the ground. The sunlight was orange on her face.

"Thereís some toilet paper in the car if you need it," I said. Shauna stopped and delivered a confused, angry look before she stomped off behind the car.

Eugene and I each kinda stared at the ground between us for a minute, as if the other was supposed to say something. Maybe we were nervous weíd hear something. It was an awkward moment.

Finally Eugene looked up and asked "Are we going to camp here tonight?"

I looked up at the smashed windows. "Weíve got the sleeping bags. And we can brush the glass off the seats. The carís not going to be any warmer than outside, but I donít think itíll be too bad."

"I dunno. It may get pretty cold."

"Weíve got stuff we can cover up with. I think weíll be okay. Besides, you can cuddle up with Shauna."

"Okay," Eugene said, looking back at the ground. I tried to think of something to say next.

A few seconds later Eugene interrupted whatever I was thinking. "So, are we gonna wait around all day tomorrow too?"

"We should probably worry about that tomorrow."

"You sure?"

"Yeah." I probably lied. I donít even know.

Copyright 2002 Betsy Shebang

Columns by Betsy Shebang