The Pig...Piggly Wiggly Grocery store...Was down the road a piece. It was early but the parking lot was full. Clyde pulled into a spot close to the front door. Inside were displays for water and flashlight batteries but the shelves were empty of those items. Seems the scare that Betsy was heading for Charleston was taken quite seriously. I suppose those who piled in to buy those items were relieved and annoyed at the same time.
We sallied over to the deli. The selections were skimpy. I reckon those people who loaded up on batteries and water also raided the deli department.
Clyde smiled at the lady behind the glass windows. She smiled back her eyes captivated by his natural charm. "Not much to choose from, eh?"
"Nope. We were hit hard by a lot of nervous folks."
"Well what do you suggest honey? We have a long road to travel."
"How 'bout i make you up a 4 foot sub? I'll wrap it up good and you can cut off portions as you go along."
"Sounds perfect darlin'.
While they continuing talking and she began making the sub, I walked over to the drink counter and picked up some chasers and mixers. I saw powdered donuts and bread and peanut butter and grabbed them.
I glanced over toward Clyde and Lula...Clyde had listened to her life story while she made the sandwich... She was lifting the 4 footer over the glass boundary. Clyde took it, smiled and thanked her then joined me in line at the register.
"She's still watching you, you know."
"She's a sweet kid. Just started this job Monday. I knew I hadn't seen her before."
"Hey Clyde. Whatcha stockin' up for? That sandwich ought to last a long time."
"Hey Billie Jean. Yeah, the nephew and I are heading to Florida to hunt hurricanes. Betsy is supposed to hit there tomorrow." The register rang and Clyde peeled of the money.
"You two are crazy. You wouldn't catch me headin' to a hurricane. I'd be headin' away from it."
Clyde chuckled, thanked her and picked up the sub. I struggled with the bags. I nearly dropped one of them as I maneuvered to open the door.
We were rolling once again, south on 17 heading for Savannah and from there straight to Miami.
"OK neff, crack one of those seals. Gimme just a touch in this cup."
"Have a preference?" I said as I surveyed the upright bottles surrounding my feet. 2 fifths, 1 gallon with a dripless pour spout and 3 pints. They were all Calverts Extra a light bourbon whiskey and really hard going down but quite inexpensive and the first rule of Clyde's economic principles was that when it's cheap one can buy more. I cracked the seal on the gallon, since I didn't want to slosh any on the seat or floor. It would have warranted a harsh look from my uncle it would be sort of the waste not want not variety of stare. Ever try to pour from a gallon bottle while driving 55 along a poorly maintained road? It isn't easy when attempting to pour a little into a half filled paper cup. Dripless or not I managed to splash some on the seat, the floor, and Clyde's leg. Not only did I get the disapproving look but a sharp negative expletive to boot.
"If you wouldn't drive through all the patches and holes in the road maybe I could do better."
"Get some ice out of the cooler and try to do better next time."
I decided to pour mine from one of the pint bottles. It was much easier to handle.
We road along for some time listening to the Four Seasons, Gene Pitney and Roy Orbison wailing away at at 8000 decibels. We shouted above the den.
"How long til we get there," I screamed.
"6, 7 maybe 12 hours," he yelled back.
"Well I'm going to brake out the sub."
I reached into the back and picked it up. Bringing it to the front I smacked Clyde in the back of the head causing him to flinch and swerve the car off the road for a heart rending moment.
"Watch what you're doing! I almost ended us up in a ditch."
"Sorry." I unwrapped the tin foil and cut off a section. I held it out for him and he took it. then I cut my slab and rewrapped the remainder being mindful not to slap him in the head. I wasn't quite successful and we took another sharp detour accompanied by more negative expletives. I was kind of glad the radio was so loud at that particular time.
Finally, there it was the Savannah River and the bridge to cross it. Coming down the far side of the bridge we saw it. Cops waving all traffic off the road and into a field. What the....
"Quick so something with all that booze."
"Like what? Jettison it all into the river? Not enough time."
"No, throw that map over it."
I grabbed the map opened it and spread it over the top of the bottles and began to study it as if we were lost. clyde slowed the car as we approached the policeman waving us all onto the dirt road heading into the field. I looked up at the officer and smiled. Clyde slowed to a stop and spoke
OH geez I thought. Did he have to say that?
"What's going on?" Clyde continued.
"Well hello boys," the patrolman said. He must have missed Clyde's slur. "We've got the local news station, you know, for the TV, offerin' up range juice and coffee for the long distance drivers going through Savannah." He was leaning down into the window as he talked. "We thought it would be a good human interest story to see some of the travelers and offer 'em some refreshment on their long drive."
His arm came to rest on the window ledge of the car door while he spoke. His happy smile altered as the smell of Calverts Extra hit him. A stern look colored by dismay took hold.
"Well, boys, you are saved by the camera crew there. Don't give us any trouble when speaking to the nice lady there and smile for the camera. Speak distinctly and don't let on. I know what you boys have been doing and I'm going to let you go quietly but you've got to promise me you will be careful going down the road from here."
"Yessir," we both chimed in.
He smiled and shook his head as he removed himself from Clyde's face. "Another traveler comin' through fellas." He waved us on and we inched up to the girl with the mike and the boy with the camera.
"What brings you boys down this way?" The girl with the mike said. She put the mike in Clyde's face as the camera boy moved in to see him answer.
"Why we come down here a lot. Got an uncle lives here in Savannah. Hey Uncle Olin...will he see me on the news?"
"As long as he's watching, he'll see you 'cause we're putting you boys on the air at 5."
"In that case..hello Uncle Olin maybe we'll be watching ourselves with you on the TV," Clyde said very loudly.
"No need to shout."
"Oh, OK, sorry.'
"So you've come to visit relatives?"
"No, actually, we're heading for Miami to catch Betsy."
"OK then, NEXT!"
We were dismissed as the camera left us to focus on the car behind us. We inched away and turned back onto the road. The Patrolman we had talked to smiled, wagged his finger and motioned us back onto the road with a slow shaking of his head.
"Why didn't he arrest us? It's plain we're both drunk."
"It was a free pass neff. He couldn't do that in front of a news camera crew. How would it look for him? He waved us through. It wouldn't look right for him to arrest us before we got to the cameras nor after. So we get a real get out of jail card free for real. It was a once in a life time deal. So pour some more into this cup. We've got a long drive ahead of us.
We picked up speed heading south away from Savannah and into a sky filled with black billowing clouds. We were in for some rain up the road apiece