On a Summer Road Trip with ‘the Girls’
From the time that they actually were ‘girls’, these three women, Lydia, Sarah, and Sydney (her parents didn’t know whether they wanted a boy or a girl, but they liked the name) had always referred to themselves as ‘the girls’. In their mid-forties they even had the two words tattooed on their left forearms, all doing it at the same time at the same tattoo parlour. That way no one would chicken out. They had become close friends as teenagers, and became well-known at their high school for their sarcasm, and their ability to stand up verbally to teenage boys who said critical things about them, to their faces or behind their backs.
Their shared interests more or less evolved over the years. They had always loved dancing, going through stages of line-dancing and tap dancing, but now they just liked dancing, period, with or without their husbands. They all liked drawing, but the subjects changed. They had once drawn ‘life models’ and muscle cars, but now preferred to sketch grandchildren and comedic pictures of clumsy people doing yoga. But their newest hobby was throwing axes, actually hatchets. You would never suspect that there would be a place for learning how to do that in the small strip mall that otherwise had a convenience store, a dentist office, a pizza place and a Wimpy’s. Once they found it and dared each other to give it a try, it became a regular part of their lives. Fortunately, it was in easy walking distance of all of their houses. They went there at least two times a week. They had become adept at throwing them, even able to perform several complicated tricks.
And now, newly retired, with their kids grown up and their husbands supportive of their plans, they had decided to go on a summer road trip. They had been talking about it for a long while, putting a lot of thought into where they would like to go. They decided to follow the north shoreline of Lake Erie as close as possible, and then do the same with the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan, all the way until it met with Lake Huron. Then take a return trip the same way only stop at different places.
They took Sydney’s SUV as it could carry the most stuff, and it was the most reliable vehicle that they had. When Sarah put her stuff in the back, she noticed that there were two throwing hatches there, the specially made ones that Sydney had bought and had let the others use. She wanted to ask Sydney what she planned to do with them, but decided against it.
The Road Trip
At the first gas station that they went to, they encountered what all three felt was a strange situation. Standing at the door to the station was a large man in uniform who was obviously a security guard. He was packing a gun. When Sydney asked about it when she paid (with contributions from the other two) for the gas, she was told that the gas station had been held up, twice, by what appeared to be the same two thieves, although with their balaclavas on they would be difficult to pick out in a line-up.
Their first stop was beside the lake. They had planned to have some kind of adventure everyday, something they would both enjoy and impress ‘the boys’ (the name they used for their husbands without telling them that). There were tall willows beside the stream that led to the lake, Sarah suggested that they climb up one of those trees. They had done that a lot when they were teenagers. Their favourite places were the ‘lovers’ lanes’ in a local park, where teenagers, most of whom they knew, would make out on a bench, or more seriously in their cars. Sometimes they would bring apples with them to throw at or near the make-out cars. It was good fun, except for the few times they got caught up a tree.
It was Lydia who pointed out that they needed something to throw at from the height of the tree, like in the old days. They would of course also require something to throw. Sarah mentioned Sydney’s two throwing hatchets in the back of the SUV. The other two approved of the idea.
So that no one would be harmed climbing a tree while carrying an axe, they formed a chain from low to high in the tree. The lowest person would pick up the axe and pass it to the next one, to be repeated another time. Their target was to be a garbage can that had not been emptied in what appeared to be months. To increase the challenge somewhat, they had to hit the target not with the sharp end of the blade, but with the thicker dull side on the back. That was Sydney’s idea, in part because she didn’t want the edges of her hatchet to be dulled or otherwise harmed. They would have to hold the hatchet with the sharp end pointed at them, a little scary It took a while, but they all mastered the challenge, and hit the garbage can appropriately with a solid thud, sometimes exclaiming ‘take that’ followed by the name of a former boss, or someone else that had earned their disdain. This entertained them for a while, with pictures taken of each one of them standing, hatchet in hand, beside the dented target.
Back on the Road Again
Then they were on the road again. They sang some of their shared favourite songs in and out of harmony, as they drove along to their next destination. But they had to get some gas first. As Sydney pulled into the gas station, they saw a disturbing sight. There were two police cars there with lights flashing, and an ambulance. They were waved away from the station, having to go farther down the road. As they drove away Lydia looked back. There was a sharp intake of breath, and she exclaimed, “There’s a guy being taken into the ambulance. He’s bleeding….a lot.”
The women were quiet for a long while. There wasn’t anything that anyone wanted to say. It would just make things worse. They travelled not too far down the road, and pulled into the nearest camping. They didn’t go where they had planed to spend the night, as that would mean going to a gas station first.
At the campsite they spoke only of the necessary details involved insetting up their tent, and getting ready to go to bed. There was a feeble joke about having to join the bears in pooping in the forest. Sarah did her best. They had seen the washrooms as they entered the park.
The Next Morning
They went swimming fairly early the next morning. There was still no talk of what had been seen in the gas station the day before, but the banter was light, like they had witnessed anything disturbing. They joked about how different the bathing suits they were wearing were from the ones they had worn when they were teenagers. This caused them to sing, mostly correctly, the words to Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, which had been popular around the time they were born. Sarah changed the words ‘we wear our Baggy, Saggy, Like a Flaggy,…’. They all laughed.
As they loaded up and got into the car, Sydney suddenly remembered that they would have to get to a gas station soon, before they ran out of gas. She wasn’t looking forward to it.
When they pulled into the gas station, all three sensed that something was wrong inside the station building. They would soon be proven right. Two masked men backed out the door, but kept it open. For some reason they were shouting and laughing at the attendant that was writhing on the floor.
The women were on the far side of the pumps. Lydia let her first thoughts be known by picking up one of the throwing axes and pointing at the thieves. Sarah grabbed the other hatchet, and they both snuck out the far doors, front and back. In a flash, they held the hatchets in the throwing position they had practiced with the garbage can, and threw them as hard as they could at the two men. There were two hits on the back of the heads of the two criminals. They fell like someone had pulled a rug out from under them.. The three women rushed to them, grabbed the guns. Lydia took her cell phone out and called the police who soon arrived. In the meantime, a good number of pictures were taken by the women. Otherwise no one, especially their husbands, would believe the mad adventure they had on their summer road trip. Those were their thoughts before the television camera crew arrived.