Heads turn toward the open cafeteria door. Standing there is a woman in a gray business suit. She has short dark hair, narrow horn-rimmed glasses, and her arms clamped around a white, 5-gallon plastic bucket.
“Is this the Competitors Anonymous
group?” she says.
“It is indeed,” Tooth says, standing. “Please, join us. Welcome.”
Clutching the bucket with white-knuckle force, the woman slowly approaches. Patch and I slide apart, and Tooth sets up a metal chair. Delicately, she takes a seat.
“What’s your name?” Tooth says.
“Annie,” she says, and looks around. “No other women?”
Tooth grins. The yellow fang in his mouth shines like corn. “You’re the first,” he says.
“Great, I’m a freak,” Annie says.
“Not any more than the rest of us,” Tooth says.
Patch smiles. “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys,” he says.For the broadway play version of Traveling,
insert musical number here.
Blackhawk nods. “I love that cartoon,” he says.
Annie notices the lot of us staring at the bucket.
“Nausea,” she says.
“Are you sick?” Tooth asks.
“Not the way you think,” she says.
then,” Tooth says.
“My daughter-” Annie lowers her head into the bucket and gags. Patch and I lean back to avoid potential blowback. “-came in second for Illinois Earth Princess.”
Tooth wrinkles his brow.
“And that is…?”
“A beauty pageant,” she says.
“Ah,” Tooth says, “and you’re having a physical reaction to her losing?”
Annie adopts a steady, fixed glare. “She didn’t lose
,” she says. “She came in second
“Well, to you
, that’s the equivalent of losing,” Tooth says. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t need a bucket.”
Annie concedes with a shrug.
“Have you been to a doctor?” Tooth says.
“Yes,” Annie says. “There is nothing physically wrong with me.”
“Psychiatrist?” Tooth says.
“Yes,” she says. “Neither the exorbitant hourly rate nor the Xanax prescription helped suppress my urge to vomit.”
This gets a couple of chuckles.
“I’m ferocious at home and work. I’ve moped after losing Pictionary to my kids. I’ve ranted and raved after losing a three-legged race at a company picnic with my husband. Now that I’ve got my daughter in pageants, it’s graduated to nausea,” Annie says. “After the state competition, the feeling won’t go away. It’s been almost a week now.” She taps the bucket. “I’ve had to take this everywhere.”
An older man, probably in his sixties, produces a toilet plunger from behind his chair. I never noticed it before. At least now I know what to nickname him.
“I have to take this with me wherever I go,” Plunger says. “I haven’t been regular for almost six years. Only go about once a week. When I do
release, I can overpower just about any crapper.” He looks around at us with a proud smile. “I once put a stress crack in one of those low-flow toilets.”
“Can that be considered a superpower?” Patch says. “Cracking porcelain with your bowel movements?”
“If it is, then call me Superman,” Plunger says with a sustained, gravelly laugh.
As soon as the residual chuckles subside, a man in a brown shirt and pants is standing dead center of the group.
I think I recognize him.
“Welcome to Yellowstone National Park,” he says.
“Oh,” I say, standing up. “I guess we’re here.”
Annie looks perplexed. “Is it always
like this?” she says.
The group, including the Yellowstone guy, nods collectively.
Fascinated, Annie lowers her bucket to the floor.
“I guess I’m in the right place,” she says.
Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
, Chapter 2: Two e-mails
, Chapter 3: Pattern
, Chapter 4: Shattered
, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
, Chapter 6: Suicide
, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers
, Chapter 9: June
, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no
, Chapter 11: DNA
, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches
, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin
, Chapter 14: Game 1
, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?
, Chapters 16 - 17
, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White
, Chapter 19: Pickle
, Chapter 20: Marty McFly
, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers
, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills
, Chapter 24: Twister
, Chapter 25: Game 4
, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony
, Chapter 27: Locusts
, Chapter 28: skype
, Chapter 29: Click
, Chapter 30: Superman
, Chapter 30: Ass Brunch
Labels: Chapter 30, Superman, traveling