Racing Astronauts – Part 5


PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 | PART 7 | PART 8 | PART 9

Chapter 4

July 3, 2005

Somewhere just north of Nashville, TN on I-65

“Mama, I have to pee and Lizzie won’t stop tickling me!” Hashim whined from the back of the family’s Chrysler Town & Country Minivan.  Claudia looked up to Heaven for strength and counted to ten before she calmly answered, “Lizzie, leave your brother alone.  Hashim, didn’t you just tell us when we stopped in Nashville that you didn’t have to use the bathroom?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Hashim said, nodding his head.

“So, we’ve only gone 10 miles, what happened, Son.”

“I think the tickles did it, Mama.  I gotta go BAD!” Hashim started squirming in the seat.

“Dad, I think we’re gonna have to find a bathroom fast,” Claudia said to her father who was piloting the 7 passenger van up Interstate 65 with the skill of a road warrior veteran.

“Next toilet is in Mitchellville at the border 20 minutes away.  Can you hold it, grandson?”

“No Sir, I gotta pee now!”

“Me too,” piped in Tony, who had also caught a case of the pee pee wiggles.

“Alright then,” Lawrence Sutherland clicked on the right turn signal and began to guide the van to a controlled stop on the side of the road.  Shifting the van into park, he unbuckled his seatbelt and called to his grandsons to do the same.  Both boys quickly made their way to the exits and looked up at their 6’2″ grandfather for further instructions.

“You see those trees over there,” he pointed a short distance away.  Both boys nodded.

“Lets head over there so you can use the bathroom,” he said.

“Outside?!?” the twins looked at him in disbelief.

“Yep, that’s the only option besides holding it until the next stop.”

Hashim pumped his fist in the air and took off running for the patch of trees.  Tony looked embarrassed and followed his brother, looking back every few steps as though hoping his Grandpa would produce a magic bathroom for him to use instead.

Marilyn Sutherland watched the exchange from her captains chair and chuckled, “I bet Tony will think twice before skipping a bathroom break on the road after this, but you better hope Hashim doesn’t start whipping his business out in the backyard.  I swear, that boy…” she drifted off shaking her head and smiling.  Claudia was busy texting the entire episode to Devon and questioning why she had not elected to drive the moving truck.

Once back on the road Marilyn and Claudia led the children in a series of games that Claudia herself had played on long car rides as a girl like counting the number of Georgia license plates they could find or how many red cars are on the road.  Eventually, the drum of the road worked its magic and all three children fell asleep around Louisville, KY.  The adults agreed it was better to skip another pitstop in favor of trying to get to Crawfordsville while the kids were sleeping.  Lawrence turned the XM satellite radio station to Watercolors where George Benson’s “This Masquerade” provided a nice mellow mood and left the van temperature hovering around 78 degrees to encourage his grandkids to sleep the rest of the ride in.

It was around 8PM when Lawrence pulled the van into the circular driveway of Hays House. Though the sun had just about given up its fight with the night, he could see that the old building looked to be in good shape still from the outside.  He only hoped that Devon had been able to find some help unloading the truck.  Not seeing the UHaul anywhere nearby, he assumed that was the case.

The front door opened and out walked Devon with a big smile on his face.  Claudia and Marilyn exited the sliding passenger doors and stretched.  Devon maneuvered over to his wife, grabbed her up and spun her around in a hug that said how much he’d missed her.

“Boy if you don’t put me down and get your children,” Claudia said.  Once her feet hit the ground she swatted Devon on the behind and he gave her a look and signaled her with the classic Morpheus hand motion to “bring it”.

“Alright you two,” said Marilyn.  “Y’all out here being all kinds of fresh and we need to get these children inside.  Devon, did you manage to get the air mattresses ready for them?”

“Oh, everything is ready for them, Mama.  We just need to get them upstairs,” Devon said with a smile.

“Oh oh, I know that smile, Mama.  Devon Wright, what are you up to?  Please don’t tell me you strung up hammocks or something,” Claudia said.

“Woman, I got this,” said Devon as he reached into the van and gently lifted his baby girl free of her car seat.  Lawrence moved to grab Hashim and Claudia retrieved Tony from his spot in the back while Marilyn grabbed each of their backpacks and proceeded into their new home.

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