They arrived at Em's apartment around 8:30 and found a note taped to the front door. Edgar walked back to the car and climbed into the rear seat. He held up the note and said, "Em isn't coming with us".
"Is that what the notes says?" Jen asked.
"No, that's what I say. The note just says: Edgar, I've decided to move to Arizona. I'll be living on the north rim of the Grand Canyon with a friend there. Waking up everyday in view of a magnificent ditch should help put things into perspective for me. Life IS weird... Em". Edgar stuffed the note into his pocket and stared at the white apartment door as the car began to pull away. As the door grew smaller, so did the memories of all the times they had spent together. All the drinking and laughing and shooting pool. All the poems and stories they created, all the jokes made at other peoples' expense. Yeah, it was a magical moment that could never be recreated, he knew that much for sure. Sadness over the loss of someone special wasn't an area of expertise for Edgar, so he sat in silence for most of the trip while Jen drove and Ben rode shotgun next to her. They sang songs that were obvious "pick-me-ups" chosen for the melancholy mood behind them, while Edgar looked out the window and imagined Em standing at the edge of a 2 billion year old scar, her hair whipping in the wind, her mind soaring like a falcon a mile above the Colorado River below.
Jen slowed the car as they entered the town of Cannon Beach and came to a stop at a red light. Up ahead a large pick-up truck waited in line too, its driver a bit more impatient than Jen though. The engine of the lifted Ford F-250 revved aggressively and the truck swayed back & forth, giving the impression that the machined beast was alive with fury. When the light turned green the driver of the truck stomped the gas pedal and a large plume of black carbon smoke blanketed the sidewalk next to it.
"For fucks sake, that guy is unbearable!" Jen exclaimed in anger. As they continued forward with traffic they watched the man driving the pick-up slow down every time he saw a pedestrian walking near the road, and as soon as his tailpipe was about even with them he'd stomp the gas and cover them in an expelled cloud of smoke. They were just reaching their turn off when the man in the pick-up did it again, this time to a woman holding hands with her young daughter.
"Don't turn here, Jen. Follow that truck to it's destination." Edgar said.
"Gladly," Jen replied.
After a short drive across town, the pick-up truck finally pulled into a gas station. After finding a spot the man got out, removed his fuel cap, and stood with his arm on top of the pump, smacking his hand loudly against the metal casing. Jen needed fuel too, so she parked in an available spot the next lane over. Edgar got out and stretched his legs and body. He then leaned against the car and watched while the driver of the pick-up truck waited impatiently for his turn to be refueled. In Oregon it's against the law to pump your own gas, and this man was blatantly opposed to the legislation. While waiting, the man noticed that the license plate on the van in front of him was from Washington state, and pretty soon his feelings on this were made known too. The driver side window of his truck was rolled down, and as he rested his crossed arms on the door frame he leaned in and began speaking loudly to a female passenger inside.
"Waaaashington? Waaaashington? Go back to Washington," the man rudely exclaimed, "we don't want you here! Oregon is for Oregonians!"
This went on for another minute, all-the-while the family in the van rightfully ignoring the ignorant rant being spewed behind them. The dastardly prick spoke loudly enough so that his opinion could be heard, but wouldn't make eye contact with his intended target. He simply yelled from the inside of his truck, stopping only when it was his turn at the pump.
Edgar approached. The man was large, overweight in the belly, and wore a t-shirt that depicted three men working on a pick-up truck. One of them was bent over the open hood with a hammer in hand, his butt crack showing. The other two were struggling with a rope attached to an engine that was strung over a tree branch above the truck, their butt cracks also showing. In bold lettering the t-shirt read: Redneck Mechanic, we probably can't fix it, but we'll take a crack at it!
"Hey there," said Edgar. The man turned his head, acknowledged Edgar's greeting with a nod, adjusted his camouflage hat and turned back toward the pump. Edgar continued, "I couldn't help overhearing your disdain for Washingtonians. Actually, none of us could, your voice carries quite well."
"Yeah, so what?" the man replied, still facing the pump.
Edgar moved closer. "You've roused my curiosity, and now I find myself wondering exactly what it is you find particularly loathsome about these people parked in front of you. Is it them or is it Washington? I'm a little confused."
Still leaning against the bed of his truck, the man turned slightly and spoke. "It's all them moving here and taking up our jobs. It's them Californians too, always moving here and then complaining about shit they don't like. Well go back, I tell em! We don't fuckin' wunnem here anyways."
Edgar paused for a moment and looked at the family in the van. "I hear ya, man. It's a terrible thing when more & more people move in, purchase more & more land and homes, pay taxes and generate more revenue for the state. It'd be even worse if, let's say, the man in that van was an out-of-state entrepreneur here on a prospecting trip. What if he brought his entire family down to scope out the area, with the intent to purchase a large plot of commercial land and the expectation to start up a manufacturing facility that, let's say in 5 years, will employ 3,000 Oregonians? Ugh, now that would be terrible indeed."
Now visibly pissed, the man turned directly toward Edgar as he spoke. "What the fuck business is it of yours, anyway? I'm about four seconds away from kicking your ass back to your car, pal."
"In that case, all I need is three seconds. Hold that thought." Edgar walked up to the van and spoke with the man behind the wheel. After a brief moment, the driver door opened as well as the sliding side door, and the entire family poured out of the van. The mother stood at the rear of the vehicle with her arms wrapped around her two children while the father and Edgar walked back to the pick-up. The man had just finished paying the attendant and was hurrying to get back into his truck.
"I'd like for you to meet someone," Edgar said. "This is Marcus. And instead of making an ignorant, hate-fueled assumption as to why this man is here in your state, I decided to take a few seconds and ask him. As it turns out, Marcus is here to bury his mother." Edgar turned toward Marcus and nodded.
"I was born in Cannon Beach, grew up and went to school here, even met my wife here. After I graduated from college I moved to Tacoma because my job offer was in Seattle. Although I now live in Washington, I've always been an Oregonian at heart. I love this state, and most of the people in it. I loved my mother and will miss her deeply, as will her two grandchildren. She left me her home in her will and my wife and I have decided to move back here, which means, in the near future, we will once again be neighbors."
With the aggravation of being cornered and nothing left to say, the man climbed into his pick-up truck and slammed the door shut. He fired the ignition and it wasn't until he was in motion that he leaned out the window and yelled, "you won't never be my neighbor, fella!" and left the two of them standing in a thick cloud of black smoke. Edgar talked with the driver of the van a moment longer before returning to his own car.
Jen and Ben both turned toward the back seat and laughed. "Edgar, you never cease to amaze me," Jen said.
"I concur," said Ben. "And how crazy is it that that man was here for his mother's funeral? What are the odds of that?!"
Edgar smiled. "Well, pretty high, I imagine. He was actually just passing through. When I got up to his car I asked where he was headed. He said they were on a family vacation, on their way to California. They decided to take the 101 down for the scenic drive. I told him it only gets prettier the further he goes. I asked if he'd walk back with me to speak with the pick-up man and he agreed. I simply told him to follow my lead, and never in a million years did I expect him to be so magnificent." Edgar laughed. "Boy, that was something! So hey, let's go watch a whale explode, shall we?"
And at that they all agreed and continued on with their journey.
To Be Continued...