Googlido, he said outloud

Siri apologized, said she didn’t understand.

Google... Lee... Do


Google... Lee ... Dew. El E... E... Dew like rain.


Lee Diu. D... Eye ... You

Siri asked if that was what he was looking for.

Google Lee Doo. D... O... O...

He thanked Siri. She said nothing. She’s not good with appreciation, either. Something to work on, he said.

Siri pops back up. ‘Go ahead... I’m listening.’ If Siri was a dog she’d be an Australian sheep herder, head tilting to the side, ready to race off at his command. 

He listened to humming tires while he thought about Lee Do, Lee Dew, Diu... whatever. Lee’s dropped from sight, at least online.

Lee’s still around, though.

He’d feel it, feel him, feel his threat. He’s out there.

His coffee whispered ‘C’mon back, pal. I’m here for ya.’

Coffee’s right. Coffee’s always right. Coffee makes it right.

He sipped, swallowed, savored. Nodded his head. Right as rain, Tommy. He surfed God, some people say ‘Google’ and found Tommy Castro and ‘Right as Rain.’ Hit play, turned it up loud. Kept driving.

Right as rain-n-n... baby our love is right as rain.

Barren fields passed by. He’d put this landscape up against New Jersey’s Turnpike for bleak desolation. Brown and flat would be more interesting. Here it rolled and rippled in a high tide of toxins and chemicals and odd colors. Weird creatures bonding and mutating in the dark, hell in the daytime, maybe their DNA’s sucking up sunlight so it can shoot out laser beams through its eyes.

‘Payback, a big fuckyouverymuch from our friends in Nature., y’know creations of God, almighty, the Real One. That’s us, was us, anyway. Now we’re your creations and well... it’s time to say hello to OUR creator.’

Yeah, hadn’t been pretty. Wasn’t going to be pretty.

That’s why he had to find Lee Do, Doo, Dew.

The man behind the plan.

Wasn’t his real name. His real name was Arthur Smith. He’d scrubbed the ‘net of any traces to that name. How deep and how hard he scrubbed was mostly myth and whispers. He was richer’n Richard Branson, said one of the myths. Owned a fleet of Lears and Embraer’s, an army of pilots and stewardesses, happy to sit most days and wait. He’d grabbed his family, flew them to some island he owned. One with no phone and no internet.

Up ahead he saw the murky tail lights of something moving slow. Real slow. He started his countdown ... 3-2-1 and he roared past the pig hauler. He couldn’t be sure if that was a wailing guitar or a wailing pig. The latter stinks and this one did so it had to be the pig.

He drove on. Darkness. Unidentified aromas. The car’s air-conditioning offered the illusion of comfort. So did the mask. Just to be sure, though, he’d hold his breath until stars popped up where they shouldn’t. Then he’d start breathing again. Heavy, big gulps. And laugh.

This is crazy. I’ve done crazier stuff. No need to revisit them.

He drove on.

Red Oak 42 miles. Road sign flashed by.

Checked his watch. 3:42 AM. Sleep’s an idea. But his good friend Coffee is keeping him company.

He drove on.

Tail lights up ahead. A family car from their shape. He flickered his high-beams, didn’t want to scare any family out at this time of night.

The family car eased over a tire’s width as he swept by. Yep, running scared.

He eased down on the gas pedal. A puff of something foul, had to be methane and ammonia, infiltrated his nostrils. He exhaled, held his breath, counted. Stars burst in his eyes before he gulped his salvation. Tears welled up.  Blink-blink, nope. A back of the hand wipe worked. Dials in soft blue lights in front, on the middle dashboard, the console beside him reappeared. Made him feel like a pilot.

Pandora offered some relief. Stevie Ray Vaughn to Eric Clapton to Muddy Waters to Allman Brothers and then Somebody Loan Me a Dime. Greg Allman and ... what was that guy’s name. Disco singer, later on. Sang with Steve Miller... his mind ran glanced down that memory rat hole before Gregg’s slide guitar brought it back.

He drove on...

‘ done lost my good time friend...’ that growly voice like a tumbler tippled to the top.

Boz Scaggs. That’s his name. Boz Scaggs. What a voice. Right in tune, perfect match.

A distant glow of city lights bounced off the low-hanging clouds. He wondered what toxic creations simmered in the lights, the moisture and the vapors rising from these dead fields.

Mattered, didn’t matter. They’d find out later this summer, next year. Hell unleashed. ‘Daddy, I’m home!’ All green eyed slime or some unseen toxin running rampant through people’s lungs and GI.

Gregg’s slidin’ and Boz is beggin’. Damn but this song makes his heart ache. Feel so good. Mmmm. He pressed down on the accelerator. Sadness and speed, a perfect cocktail. Bitter’n the sweet. Whiskey and Pickle juice. Love’n happiness. He laughed, dark and low, at that one.

He asked Siri to find Boz Scagg’s first album. And she did. Silk Degrees.

Siri, play Silk Degrees. That’s the album’s title.

Harbor Lights came up, then Lowdown and We’re All Alone. He sang them all as he watched the abandoned gas stations and fabricated buildings that marked Red Oak, Iowa, pass by his windows. Now his mind ambled down those back roads. Good times.

Then came Lido’s Shuffle. Lee Do... whu-uh-uh.

Wait a minute, he thought. That’s it. Lido. Not Lee Do.

Siri, find Lido. El ... Eye ... Dee ... Oh. Lido. In Nebraska.

Searching for LiDO... in Nebraska. Siri pronounced it Nebr - aska. Like ‘Nebr ask a banker for a loan.’

Siri... gotta love her.

I find one Fred Lido in Omaha, Nebraska.

Perfect. I paused and waited for Siri to say ‘thank you.’ But she didn’t. She’s not ready. Okay, I understand.

Siri... map a route to Fred Lido in Omaha, Nebraska.


I turned up Lido Shuffle loud and sang along like I was singing in my shower.

I drove faster. If I was walking and someone saw me they’d say I had a skip in my step. Driving’s version of ‘skippy stepping’ was waving my free hand, tapping the rhythms on the steering wheel with the other.

Fred. ‘K. Yeah, Fred... that was his Dad’s name. Fred Smith. Still, it’s sorta like hiding in plain sight, y’know. Taking his dad’s first name and adding an abbreviated version of his employer’s as his last.

‘Chickens comin’ home to roost now,’ I shouted. Chickens no more resembled a squawking, warbling, head-bobbing, grit crunching, yard-marching chicken than he did. The result of the mad scientists at McDonald’s and those at feed companies who used the chemicals Arthur Smith, aka FredLido, created and then insisted they buy.

I can do ‘The Chicken’ though, he said out loud, as Boz broke into Breakdown Dead Ahead. He flapped the one arm, bobbed his head front to back and blew the horn.

Offut Air Force Base... 39 miles. Then Omaha... then, Blair, Nebraska where Fred lived.

He’ll stop somewhere, maybe Omaha - they should still have hotels/motels near the interstate. Grab some sleep, a bite of breakfast.


And she found him hotels and diners, dialed a national brand of the first. The sleepy-sounding frontdesk clerk answered.

When do you...

Be there in one hour, he said. They tidied up the payment details and he hung up.

Siri... Play Jeff Beck’s ‘Going Down.’ She did. Twice. He cranked up the volume to almost ear-bleed level. No traffic. He pressed the gas pedal down, the acceleration pushing him into his backrest. Yeah, I’m not going down. You’re going down... down, down, down, down, down.

 The sweet smell of success filled his lungs and he breathed deep and often. He floated. Giddy at the vision of Arthur’s face when he saw him.

The hotel was as expected. Nothing but the its name on the bedside stationary distinguished his room from a million others like it. The Not Disturb sign with a sleeping figure and a string of zzzz’s rising in the air above its head, coffee and a maker too cheap for home but good enough for a one-night stand, little soap bars labeled in French, abstract - but not too abstract - paintings on the wall... all of them knock-offs made in China by children who’ll never see France or a museum. Home sweet home.

He wasted no time drawing down the bedspread, instead falling backwards on top of it. Lying there, eyes closed and deciding on clothes and lights. He left them both on.

He dreamed deep and long, ending up in the end of the hallway of the house he’d shared with his wife at that time. Sort of a Let’s Make a Deal with 3 doors closed and none of them ever going to open again. He felt nothing, maybe a confirmation.

Before he could back his way out of that dream, the phone rang by his head.


It’s your wake up call.


Have a good...

He hung up before he heard if she wished him a good life, day, week, morning, shower.

Didn’t matter. With 3 hours of sleep he remained buoyant, a breakfast - his last meal ever if his plan goes right - away from giddy.

His good-enough brand coffee dripped through its good-enough brand coffee maker and into one of two cups. He listened as he studied himself in the bathroom’s mirror. He ran his hands through his hair, straightening his collar and smiled. Yeah, good enough works today. He grabbed his things, dumped the coffee in his Yeti cup and walked out of the forgettable room.

The diner across the street was called Tres Hombres. A chain, headquartered in Denton, Texas. He googled it while he stood by his car. The website promised Tex-Mex using ‘our grandparents’ recipes.’ So did the sign out front. He wondered why he hadn’t noticed the sign when he drove in last night. Closed? Curfew? Power rationing? All of the above, he decided.

The vinyl booth seat greeted his butt like a long lost friend. The waitress recognized his kind, bringing a full pot of coffee in one hand and a cup in the other. She set them beside him and offered a first-smile-in-the-morning smile. No menu. He knew, she knew he knew.

What can I get you?

Cheese omelette, no toast, one pancake, extra butter and syrup.

You got it. And she pivoted away after flashing the same smile again.

Maybe, I’ll come back tomorrow, he thought.

Two customers sat at the counter, both hovering over their coffee cups like they might found salvation or a lucky penny at the bottom. 3 booths away a young couple leaned close and whispered but didn’t laugh. The man leaned back and looked out the window while the woman did the same but checked out the TV in the corner. They’re having leftovers.

Another gray day outside. Traffic picking up but not too fast.

He pulled out his iPad, pulled up the reports and started reading. Crop disasters over there... crop disasters over here. Whup-whup. Corn’s a thing of the past in the midwest. Peach trees are a novelty in Georgia, almond trees a distant memory in California.

The list went on and on. Fields dying, small farmers and their family right up behind them or they left, abandoned their farms or sold them to predators - conglomerations of food manufacturers, chemical companies and banks.

Behind this stood his good friend, Arthur, and his discovery of both the kill seed and the savior seed. Two simple discoveries. Made him a wealthy man. Him and his family. Billions. Hundreds of billions for his partners - abominations of greed, hubris, narcissism, lacking any sense of compassion.

Arthur had been smart enough for a full-ride at Iowa State. He’d stayed behind to help his dad. Ended up being one of those farmers who lost everything when he couldn’t pay for the savior seed. He’d packed his wife and kids into their Chrysler mini-van, gave her $1000 and said he’d catch up with them in a couple of weeks. Had to take care of business, he said. She understood. Kids didn’t. A real tear-jerker departure.

Focus, he mumbled.

More reports, more stories of lives disrupted and lives remade. All of them a reminder that ‘to the victor goes the spoils.’

She delivered his breakfast on two plates. Omelette accompanied by the bacon strips he’d forgotten to order on one. Pancake on the other. Hooked on a finger was the syrup and packets of butter dropped from her other hand.

I knew you forgot to order bacon, she said. Another smile. Still as bright.

God, she’s good, he thought. Then, Gah. I’m married.

 Eating was a sidebar activity. If he tasted much, he didn’t notice. Omelette, coffee. Pancake, coffee. Bacon slipped in there somewhere.

The front door ding-donged. From far away he heard whispers. ‘He’s right here.’

The Smiling Waitress stood beside him and touched his arm. He placed a finger on the screen to hold his spot and looked up.

She waved a hand towards a millennial-aged woman. Alert eyes, hair cut short for efficiency he decided real quick, dark blue slacks and matching sport jacket and a white shirt, open at the collar. There’s a resemblance but he couldn’t figure out with who. Too much data coming: the reports, his family, the waitress and her warmth right beside him, and now this woman standing across from him, holding a leather portfolio in front of her. Like armor.

Can I sit down?


She nodded her head as if she expected that qualifier.

Who are you, he asked.

Beside him the waitress backed away.

I’m Fred Lido.

The look on his face must have said it all.

Fred is short for Frederika. Arthur’s my dad.

She interpreted his mumble and nod as permission to sit down.

She sat erect, laying the leather portfolio to the side then clasping her hands and setting them in front of her.

They studied each other, checking off characteristics that Arthur, Herbert, the Mad Scientist, her dad and his friend had given them about the other. He recognized his friend’s eyes, the curl of his lip in hers, the coat-hangar shoulders. She recognized something because she nodded her head once and said ‘okay.’

Dad can’t be here.

Okay. But how did you know I was coming? How did you know I was here?

He said you’d come.

She watched his face as that truth settled inside him. Then she added... We have resources. She shrugged, not in arrogance but just in fact.

Huh. Yeah. And a long silence followed before he added I’m glad. We were friends once.

He remembers.


Another shrug.

I’d heard stories about his family.

They’re true. But I’m not part of that family.

She watched him digest that news.

He’s sorry.


Yes. Deeply.



Her eyes glistened for a minute before she seemed to suck the tears back inside and sit up straighter.

A surge of emotions, raw and confused and seeking clarity, fought for their expression in him.

She saw it.

He can’t undo what’s happened.

Okay, he said. He clenched his hands tight in front of him. She saw, she knew.

He didn’t know they’d do that.

His head was exploding with relief that his friend’s soul still survived somewhere but all those emotions yammered to ‘let me out!’

But... he wants to help. Maybe undo, maybe pull out the rug beneath them.

Beneath them.

I’ve dropped something on the floor, beneath us. It’s beneath the napkin. The waitress will pick it up when she cleans the table. You’re to come back and say you forgot... something.


A phone, a wallet, keys. Doesn’t matter. She’ll give it to you. And then you’ll see.

How’s your dad?

I don’t know. I don’t see him. Strangers bring me messages. Sometimes at home, sometimes at work.

She watched him visualize her world based on this new information.

Now, smile and laugh like you’re ridiculously happy to see me. Let’s pretend we’re on a Tinder date.

I’m too old for Tinder.

No you’re not.

Yeah, she’s definitely his daughter, he thought.

At an unseen signal, the waitress arrived along with her smile and warmth and took Fred’s order like they’d never met before. While he finished his omelette and pancake, they started in on ‘first date’ topics like they do now: favorite movies, songs, best concerts, food. Safe topics like that. As she finished her coffee, hash browns and two over easies she added children, expectations for sex, failed relationships, favorite movies.

At the end he said ‘I forgive him.’

She said ‘He knew you would.’

Tell him to come see me.

We will when we can.

She offered a smile, one that burned bright inside him for the long ride home.


May 28, 2020 20:24

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Laura Albrecht
17:55 Jun 04, 2020

This is such an interesting read, thank you for this experience! I really love your style of prose. It gives me a schizophrenic, ADHD vibe with a little bit of crazy mixed in. It's actually a little creepy in some places, and I think that lends itself very well to your story. I'm not super clear on the plot or all of the characters, but that's alright. Overall, fantastic concept, make just add a little bit of direction with your plot and characters without taking away any of the craziness, and you could have a really interesting unique read.


Zane Safrit
18:34 Jun 05, 2020

Laura, thank you. Your comments made me smile and your suggestion is spot-on. I thought it needed something... But the deadline was there and I could find an entry point. I'll circle back and add that little bit of direction with plot and characters, make it a longer short story. Hopefully, make it stronger. But once again I love your comments, your experience reading it. I started that Friday, the due date, with no intention to write that story. I just wanted to write... loose, free, letting her rip. With my morning coffee, I thought.....


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Karen Kinley
01:12 Jun 02, 2020

I'm not really sure what I think about this except that I love the style of your writing! You have hidden gems inside every sentence. I've read this twice and still don't totally get it, but I want to see more from you!! Well done!


Zane Safrit
18:26 Jun 02, 2020

Thanks! I'm not sure I totally get it, either. I woke up Friday morning, determined to just write something... silly. That was the first word. Then after that... the story kept rolling out of me. I finished it around 5PM, read through it one more time and submitted it.


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Zane Safrit
18:28 Jun 02, 2020

Part 2. Re-reading it last night... I thought there could have been more clarity. But the ambiguity... (head toggling left to right)... that was okay, too. Thanks for the comment and support. I look forward to reading your other stories, as well.


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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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