Just for the fun of it, I’m going to share the entire first chapter of the book I’m currently writing, “The Department of Temporal Adjustment”. This is a very rough draft, and aren’t I brave to post it unedited! I’m sharing it at this early stage because even unedited you can get the flavor of the story. I’ve had so much fun writing it, I hope you enjoy it!
“Look! There’s the sign! This is it, turn right here!” I yelled.
I realized that yelling in an enclosed space like the car probably wasn’t a good idea as I watched my husband jump at the sound of my voice. He swerved to the right to make the requested turn, and then turned to look at me with astonishment. I am usually much calmer than this.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell,” I admitted sheepishly and cringed at the expression on my husband’s face. I glanced toward the back of the car to see if my loudness had upset the children who were being suspiciously quiet, and was relieved to find they had all fallen asleep.
“I am just so frustrated,” I continued quietly. “Do you realize we have been driving over half an hour, and we still cannot find that stupid road?”
“We’ll find it, don’t worry,” Tony consoled. “How are we doing on time?”
“We still have another half hour before her appointment,” I admitted, “but that doesn’t take into account that we are supposed to be there 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. So in reality we really only have 15 minutes to find this place.”
I turned again to look at the sleeping children in the backseat. This wild goose chase of a drive had come about because my oldest daughter, Becca, struggled with chronic asthma. When I had heard that a neighbor’s child had been all but cured by one of the local doctors, I had immediately called to make an appointment for my child.
The receptionist had firmly but calmly informed me that the doctor was no longer taking new patients, and that there was a long list of people who were waiting for an opening. Pride had flown out the window as I had begged and pleaded, and had somehow managed to convince the receptionist to find room for my child.
So I knew that it was paramount that my family arrived for the appointment on time. If we blew this chance there was no way we would be given a second one. Which is why I had allowed a full hour for what should have been a 10 minute drive.
Should have been. Unfortunately, the directions given to me by the office staff had proven to be confusing, unclear, and just plain wrong. Half the streets I had been told to drive past had never materialized, and it seemed that the streets we were supposed to turn onto were elusive enough that I was beginning to suspect they had either been renamed or they had never existed at all.
I held on tight as my husband quickly made a right turn down a street that could only be termed residential. Another wrong turn.
“Darn it! Sorry, I must have misread the sign,” I sighed. “As much as I hate to admit it, I think we might as well give up and go home. We’ll never make it there on time, and there is no way they’ll give us another appointment if we’re late to this one. Why would they give such bad directions?”
Tony made a block through the residential area and pulled back out into the main road. He drove for a couple of minutes, looking all around to get his bearings.
Tony is one of those people who never truly get lost. He has the most amazing sense of direction of any man I have ever met. Put him in a city he has never seen, tell him where you want to go, and he’ll somehow miraculously get you there.
Unless I’m with him. Somehow, I seem to have a talent for confusing directional issues.
Tony pulled into a half-empty parking lot and turned off the car.
“Okay, tell me again the directions they gave you,” my husband calmly asked.
“They said to turn left out of our driveway, and then take another left…”
“Wait, wait wait! The doctor’s office told you to take a left out of our driveway? How did they know that we would need to take a left?”
“Oh, they didn’t. I added that part. I knew we’d need to take a left.”
“So leave out the part you added, and read to me exactly the directions they gave you.”
“Well, to be perfectly honest I didn’t exactly write them down. I mean, you know how people around here say go north until this road, and then go west, or east, or north by south west. It is so confusing. So when I wrote them down I converted them.”
“What does that mean, you converted them?”
“You know, got rid of all that north, south, east, west stuff.”
“You converted north, south, east, and west to right, left, and straight?”
“Yes, it was easy. I just remembered that if you face north, east is to your right, south behind you, and west to your left.”
My husband closed his eyes for a moment and seemed to be muttering to himself. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but I’m pretty sure I heard something about the lack of common sense, how can someone so smart be so dumb, and that it might be true that blondes are airheaded.
I was beginning to get a bit miffed as he mumbled under away under his breath, but I decided that I should probably pretend I couldn’t hear him and keep my mouth shut. After all, if Tony put his mind to it he might be able to get us to the appointment on time. I evidently can’t. I can only get us more and more lost.
Tony stopped mumbling and pulled himself together. “So,” he asked in what I could tell was supposed to be a kindly voice, “what is the address again?”
“It’s on 15th,” I said, looking at my notes.
“Is that 15th Avenue or Street?” I could tell that he was trying his hardest to keep his frustration in check.
“Um, I didn’t write that down. I only wrote down 15th N.”
Tony slammed his hand down on the steering wheel, startling a pedestrian who just happened to be walking by as the horn beeped. He smiled and waved an apology to the pedestrian, and then turned to me.
“Sweetie, I think I know our problem. I know why we couldn’t find the streets we’re were supposed to find.”
I hate it when he calls me sweetie in that particular tone of voice. It makes me feel like he thinks I have the brain of a 3 year old.
“How could you possible know why we were having so much problem just by hearing the name of a street? I mean, we’re on 15th right now!” I challenge.
“Very true. But we’re not on 15th N. We’re on 15th NE.” His response was smug, as if he knew something that I couldn’t possibly comprehend.
“15th N, 15th NE, what’s the difference. It’s the name of the street, 15th that counts, right?”
“Not quite. 15th NE and 15th N are in different parts of town. 15th N is on the other side of the highway. I’m pretty sure it’s in Greenwood.”
“Greenwood? I just don’t get it. How do you know what part of town by the N, S. E, W thing?”
“NW is West Seattle, S is south of downtown, NE is over here near Northgate…,” Tony looked at my face and sighed. I must have looked as confused as I felt.
“I’ll explain later,” he said patting my leg. I hate it when he treats me like a child. “We have to hurry if we want to get Becca to the appointment on time.”
I decided to let the treating-me-like-a-child thing go for now. Tony evidently thinks he can still get us to the appointment on time. I’ll deal with his attitude later. Probably. After all, I probably was the one who made us get lost in the first place.
Tony took a moment to get his surrounding and I could see the exact moment when his internal GPS system kicked in and he figured out the best route to take. Amazing!
“I think if we go this way….” my husband started to say, but I grabbed his arm to stop his words.
I had seen the most unusual sight.
“Tony,” I whispered, “do you see those men? The ones right over there?”
“Why are you whispering,” Tony asked, “no one outside the car can hear you. And what men?”
“Over there, across the street.” I gripped Tony’s arm tighter. “Those three men who are dressed like old-timey aviators. They are walking like they have a steel rod stuck in their back. All three of them. Do you see them?”
“Yeah, I see them. But even though they are strange, I think there’s nothing to worry about. We’re pretty near the U district. It’s probably a fraternity prank, or they have to walk around like that because they are being hazed.”
“I don’t know,” I say, wondering how I can convey the weird feeling I have about these men to my level-headed husband. “They look somehow beyond U district strange….they look like, well, like they are straight out of an old sci-fi movie.”
“Don’t worry about it. Like I said, they are probably trying to join a frat. We need to get moving, or we’re going to be late.”
And again, the condescending pat on the leg.