At precisely 11:59 Mike pulled into the driveway of Harriet and Jack’s house. It was a nice house, both larger and newer than his, nestled in a cul-de-sac several blocks away from the freeway exit. Harriet had planted hundreds of perennials around her home and though they were not blossoming at that time, they were thriving thanks to the large blue UV umbrella that covered the entire neighborhood. Harriet was waiting as they walked up the path to the front door. Mike grabbed one of his signs from the trunk while Patience retrieved the Jell-o mold.
“Hi Daddy. Hi Patience.”
“Hi, Harriet,” said Patience. “Thank you for having us over.”
“Of course.” Harriet and her robot step-mother exchanged kisses on the cheek.
“Hi Honey,” said Mike. “You look gigantic.”
“Thanks a lot, Dad.” Harriet ran a hand over her protruding baby bump. “I am gigantic.”
“He’s in the garage shampooing the car interior,” she answered but looked quizzically at the sign he held in his hand.
“Oh, I brought you a present for your yard.” He showed it to her and then pressed it into the earth in the small garden beside Harriet’s door.
Mike’s daughter guided them into the house and closed the door.
“So why’s he shampooing the car seats now?” asked Mike as he plopped onto the couch.
“It’s quite a story,” answered Harriet. “Renee Holmes—she lives down the street, well she asked Jack to drive her to the pharmacy. She has two kids and they had to go with her because she didn’t have a baby sitter. Anyway, she got her prescription, but on the way back she started coughing so much that she threw up right in the back seat. Well, her oldest—that’s Mikey—he got a whiff of the smell and threw up too. Then Mikey’s little sister Marie vomited right in Jack’s lap and that set him off. So the entire car was practically filled with vomit and I told Jack that there was no way I could ride to my obstetrician’s appointment this week with the car smelling like that.”
“It’s just like that movie Stand By Me,” said Mike with a smile.
“I… oh, I don’t think I’ve seen it.”
“It was based on a story by Stephen King,” said Patience. “Originally published in King’s 1982 collection Different Seasons, it tells the story of three adolescents who set out on a journey to see the body of a dead boy.”
“Um, Okay,” said Harriet, putting a protective hand on her belly. “Patience, why don’t we set the table? Daddy, why don’t you go out to the garage and talk to Jack? Maybe you could even help him.”