We left Borders Books in a frenzy, the front desk sales associate leaping over the counter to push open the door for us. "Breakdown," he yelled to the customer just coming in through the other side of the entryway. "Hold the door!"
The Boss was hanging in half over my arm, her face to her legs as she spewed snot and tears on her kneecaps. I clutched her discarded shoes with three fingers of one hand as I used the other hand to steer Number Two's bulky stroller through the exit. The Boss was bucking and screaming; Number Two was discordant in his seat in front of us as I pushed him into the doorjamb and then pulled back with a jerk. I'm not sure if I croaked out a "thank you" to the startled people holding the doors.
When we crossed over into daylight, the sun barely registered with me. It should've been a thunderstorm as far as I was concerned. Maybe the crack-boom of static electricity would've drowned out the tantrum. I heaved a sigh and then hoisted The Boss off of me and onto the sidewalk so we could walk the rest of the way to the car. She crumpled to the beige concrete. She wailed. About what? Who knows. Who cares. She had ceased making sense somewhere back in the children's section, at about the time I told her we had to leave.
In front of Borders, from the ground, I pulled her to me again, her stomach pressing into my forearm while the sun bounced off a pink skorted behind that was pointed toward the heavens as if in supplication. I made our way across the parking lot. She kicked me and thrashed against the handles of the stroller. She screamed. Number Two screamed. We reached the car.
It took me ten minutes to get The Boss buckled into her seat. At one point I put my elbows on the roof of the car and leaned into the whiteness, my chin in my palms. She screamed below. Two twenty-somethings in sleeveless black frills and short white skirts flounced by, luxuriating in not being me.
The Boss found offense in everything during the drive home. On the the three occasions we passed a lake or a pond, she railed against them: "I don't like water! I said, I DON'T LIKE WATER!" I could barely make sense of the tirade as her saliva threatened to drown out her words.
Snoop Dogg came on the radio then with "My Medicine," his countrified ode to illegal pharm. I turned it up. The twangy beat and the cadence of Snoop's voice settled over us like a jacked up lullaby. Number Two liked it. In the rear view mirror, I saw The Boss was sticking to her guns. Her face blazed red with the force of anger.
The more dedicated, the more medicated, Snoop crooned. Can you feel me?