It was getting late and the thunderstorm still hadn't passed. She swallowed what was left of her Pepsi and headed out the door. He would be sore in the morning, but there was nothing she could do. There was nothing she wanted to do.
As she climbed into her pickup truck with the faded seats and the rust spots on the rear fenders, she felt Cody brush past as he climbed in too. She was glad for the company.
"Well, Cody. It looks like we're leavin' Dodge and the sheriff hadn't even run us off. Not long on courage are we, boy?"
Cody just wagged his tail as he stared out the window.
"Time to move on, ain't it? Let's go."
As the old truck roared to life, Katy smiled at the clanking diesel engine. It was good to be back in the saddle again.
The rain beat down, drumming a senseless racket on the truck's roof, as Katy drove into the night, shifting gears with the engine's whine and cruising to the sound of an old 8-track. Someday she'd have a truck with a newer sound system, but that would have to wait for somewhere farther down the road. For now Loretta would have to wish her old cad "a happy birthday, merry Christmas and happy New Year" on tinny speakers and a crummy bit of tape. Katy wondered if Tom would see the birthday cake when he got home that night. Or if he'd even get the reference.
The first rays of daylight were just beginning to pierce the dark of night, giving a warm glow to the horizon as Katy and Cody pulled into the dock. She waved as her old friend walked over.
"Yer sure yer wantin' to go through with this now, are ya'?"
"Jon, I've never been more sure in all my life. It's now or never, tonight's the night, or today's the day, and if I don't make it, I'm gonna die tryin', and all that rubbish. Me and Cody gotta boat to catch to the rest of our lives."
"Yeah, yeah, I figured you was, I just hadta ask 'cuz that's what friends do and all. Just pull that old wreck over there and we'll go get some breakfast."
As Katy jumped to the ground, she noticed the grease marks on Jon's face and clothes. "You been workin' all night tonight?"
"Well, you just called me two days ago, and you know this old clunker don't run half the time you want it to, so I figured I had my work cut out makin' sure this'd be the better half. Wouldn't do you know good otherwise."
"That's true. That's true. So you got her runnin' good, now?"
"Yeah, yeah. Let's go get some breakfast."
Cody whined when Katy left him at the door of the diner, but he was waiting for her when she came back.
"Cody, you and that old truck are the only things've stuck by me all these years. I don't know what I'm gonna do when you finally go."
"Now, Katy, that ain't quite fair to me nor your mama nor half your friends. We've all been there just as much as we could."
"I know Jon, but you didn't live with it. Cody did." She paused to watch his face. "How long's the ride?"
"'Bout three hours by plane. Fifteen in Doris."
"Doris? You named your boat after your show cow? Jon, sometimes I just don't know what to think of you."
"Yeah, and what about Jake? You named your pickup after your mama's tabby cat."
They laughed as they walked toward the dock. Katy paused when they reached her truck. "Is it time Jon? Can we load up and set sale? Blow this popcicle stand, split like a banana, make like a tree and leaf and all that jazz? I know he wouldn't know where I was goin' or what I was doin', but I've just got the itch, and I've got to go."
"Sure, Katy, you just pull up over there and we'll get her loaded up."
Katy paused as she climbed in, looking at her old friend as he walked toward the boat barn. "Jon."
"After all these years you don't have to say that to me." He took a breath, "But you're welcome, Kate."
The sun finished his grand entrance just as the truck rumbled across the loading planks. "Jon," Katy called, "Jon, stop a minute and look at that sunrise. It's a good day, ain't it? A good day for a boat ride, and a good day to feel the wind in yer face and taste the salt in the air."
"Sure Katy, it's a good day for a boat ride, and a good day to taste the salt in the air. But Katy, Doris don't do wind in yer face." He winked and said, "You'll just hafta take it easy and settle for somethin' a mite bit slower."