Journey for Answers – Chapter 14 “Shopping”

The last town before the border began passing by them, with just a few minutes for them in it. Heat from the sun began turning the van into a hot greenhouse, forcing Matthew to roll down the window and let the passing wind into it. Mike from the back, peeked his head between Matthew and Caroline, beginning to complain about the hot air. The gesture from Matthew hands towards the open window shut him up, and he slid back into the back of a van, muttering words under his nose. Caroline anxiously mentioned grocery store, pointing out that it would be good if they stock up some food and drinks. Matthew looked at her and nodded.

Before exiting town they rolled to the last shop on the southern part of it. After parking down the van, Mike jumped out of the hot air infused van and inhaled fresh breeze air with joy. Outside the van wasn’t a huge difference in temperature, but it felt better than in the ‘tin can’ as he described it. Matthew with Caroline began walking towards the grocery store, while Mike remained at the side of a van.

“Mike you coming?”

Matthew looked back at Mike, who lit up his cigarette

“Oh no, I’ll do some stuff here.” He winked “You sure go without me.”

Matthew lovered his head with slight regret of bringing Mike along. He knew what he’s about to do, he just hoped that van won’t smell with weed when they come back from the store. Walking away from the van and coming close to shop Caroline began asking.

“Why does Mike don’t come? Doesn’t he needs food or anything?”

She asked with curiosity.

“Emmm… how should I put this? He stayed there to roll a joint probably because that’s what he does when he gets bored, and about food… he doesn’t look for need to buy any because he’s gonna take from us anyways.”

He shrugged his shoulders and grabbed a cart.

“Wow mate, that sounds like stuff only assholes do.” Matthew glanced at her and flickered his eyes for a brief moment.“I know what we should do with him. Is there anything he doesn’t eat?” with a huge smile on her face she looked into Matthew’s eyes.

“Yes, yes there is,” Mathew kept pushing their cart from one aisle to another “he doesn’t like fish that’s for sure, and any kind of healthy food is a turnoff for him.”

“Well that is very unfortunate for him.” she pushed fresh vegetables in a cart and laughed.

Matthew joined her laugh and they strolled around the food aisles for the next five minutes. Both of them completely ignored anything that would seem appealing to Mike, instead of chips which had fish flavor. Whenever any of them threw anything that wouldn’t seem appealing to Mike, they would begin grinning about it. Despite Caroline’s idea of pranking, Matthew couldn’t be completely cruel to him and threw a pack of peanuts into the cart. With last things from the food department, they arrived at the booze aisle – the one aisle that Caroline wanted. Matthew could see her smile raise up.

“Dude, we should get drunk once we passed the border.”  With excitement, she grabbed a vodka bottle.

“Do you ever get tired of drinking?”

“Pfft, me? No way mate. I mean, you have your weed and such, I have booze.”

“That isn’t my weed.” He turned his eyes from her and rolled cart towards the cash register.

“Okay,” with a vodka bottle in her hands she caught up with Matthew “his weed, but you’re gonna smoke it anyways.”

Matthew gave a quick glance, smiled with a doubtful look in his eyes and began putting their groceries on the counter. He stared at the cashier and her serious face, listening to constant beeping from the scanner, thinking of how they can sit all day, scanning countless barcodes and listening to the same beeping – over and over.

“Twenty-two fifty.” She pressed the last buttons on the register

“Oh, this too.”

From behind Caroline handed her vodka bottle in cashier’s hands. Matthew simply nodded and pulled out his credit card, which was filled with money he earned working abroad for last year. He never truly enjoyed working there, but the amount of cash he could earn justified that. Matthew liked to live freely. Sacrificing one year he earned another with complete freedom and enough cash to live for rest of its length.

Coming out of the shop they could see Mike sitting on the opened side of the van, with a joint in his one hand and phone in the other. Slowly approaching the van Matthew began guessing who could be on the other end of that conversation. Coming closer he could hear words from the conversation – he was arguing. Caroline and Matthew ignored sitting Mike, who did the same thing and continued staring into ground meaninglessly. Matthew opened the back of a van and the smell of weed was all over him, like a wave, it hit his nostrils. Dropping his bag into the back of a van he began staring at the Mike, who was finishing his conversation with goodbye words. Their both looks aligned and Matthew’s lips began moving.

“Who was it?”

Sudden interest about the caller felt more important that fact of a smelly van.

“Amanda.”

Matthew face filled with intrigue, he stood right next to him, refusing the passing joint.

“What she said?”

“Oh, nothing really serious, just the fact that she’s glad I’m taking this trip to ‘god knows where’ as she said.”

With tiny sadness in his eyes, he ashed the joint and passed it to Matthew, who refused it again.

“Well, she can be a mean lady… and Mike. You know that our van smells like weed and we’re about to cross the border?” he looked at him with a serious grimace

“Relax man, everything is going to be fine. We’ll just chill here for a while and then go.”

“I admire your optimism.”

Answering him sarcastically he jumped into a van, leaving back of it open.

They stood into the parking lot for next half an hour. Mike was telling funny stories about his adventures with Matthew and Caroline sat through them, listening carefully. From time to time Matthew would correct him because of fault gaps in his stories. Mikes memory wasn’t the brightest one, but he kept denying that everytime Matthew brought it up. Finally, Mike shut up and slid into the vans mattress.

“Okay, I think it’s good to move now.”

Caroline encouraged Matthew to start the car and they kept moving closer to the border. On the empty road, they opened both front windows to be sure fresh air overcomes the smell of weed – at least slightly. Coming closer to the border they were surprised that it was empty. Not a single border guards or patrol near the border. There stood a few trucks whose drivers were sleeping off the long roads until now, a few people walked from a shop, which was located right at the border. They drove through with absolute optimism, but Matthew had a strange feeling about this. The thought of being stopped never left his mind, especially when his friend is stocked with weed, coke, and a van that might be smelling with weed. Sliding through the border, just to hear Mike shouting.

“I told you, man, told you. Not a single guy waving his stick.”

He turned to back of the van and landed his ass on mattress once again, tilting his head backward. Right after a minute, border patrols car appeared in front of them, parked beside the road and border guard waving black-white stick – signaling that they need to stop. That was it, they had no choice, but to stop and Matthew knew that they will be questioned. He turned his head to Mike.

“Mike! I hope you got an excuse because we’re stopping.”

Complete with shock he jumped up, rubbed his eyes and said one word that described everything.

“FUCK!”


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