"Two for New York."
"City's sold out." The woman didn't look up.
"Sorry," Casey leaned in, "we need to get to New York."
"You can buy a ticket to Newark and get the PATH from there, but the last direct is sold out."
Danny scowled. No car, no money, and a pit stop in Newark. He could have been chased by bears at any point during the day, and it would have been an improvement.
Casey slid their last twenties across the counter. The change in Danny's pockets was all the money they had left.
The bus was crowded. Danny and Casey sat in the front, in seats usually held for the elderly. The doors closed as they wedged themselves down, Danny's hip bumped against the end of the bank of seats and Casey's side was pressed against a sleeping old man in a green satin jacket. The fact that Casey was practically sitting in Danny's lap wasn't topping either of their "Things to Complain About" lists.
"It was a nice car." Danny glanced at Casey, busy staring at the old man's head bobbing near his shoulder.
"No one's arguing." He fidgeted, "But the whole … engine bursting into flames can't be overlooked."
"No. Guess not."
"We could have called Jeremy." Casey stretched his legs out across the aisle.
"No. No we could not have called Jeremy."
"He was a half-hour ahead -- he would've turned around."
"And then we would've had to listen to him gloat."
"I feel he could have been magnanimous."
"You feel he could have -- have you met Jeremy?"
"Or we could have rented a working car."
"Don't ... it was a nice car, Case."
"It was indeed. However, and here's where I'm fuzzy, we both own cars?"
"Cars that, in the grand scheme of automotive history, could still be considered 'new'?"
"In that scheme, yes."
"And yet we rented one for a day trip."
"Look, it was nice. A '56 Bel-Air. If you're going to AC, if you're young, hip guys -- or in our case, us, you take a convertible. You ride in style, with sunglasses. Casino gambling in this country has suffered a loss in class since the days of the Rat Pack and the high rollers. Those who know owe it to AC to treat her with respect."
"That's very touching, Danny, and more than a little weird, but was our return trip part of your vision?"
"No, but you gotta' admit," Danny smirked, "it's rather fitting. A classic ending."
"It's a cautionary tale."
"It's a cautionary tale against gambling with a genius."
"Did you know Jeremy could do that?"
"Win all our money and leave us stranded in New Jersey?"
"Yes, but ... did you know he was that good?"
"I had an inkling."
Danny nodded off near Belmar, and Casey didn't move when Dan's head lolled onto his shoulder.
Casey was asleep when the bus stopped in Newark. The change in Danny's pockets was enough for their subway fares.
The light gave off a stuttering, nauseating fluorescence. Danny squinted and tried to focus on the floor, but his eyes wandered up to the girl in the seat facing his.
She was maybe twenty, and sleeping, scowling. Her jeans were worn, frayed at the cuffs. Her T-shirt was old, thin; it said "Disney Sucks" in black letters.
Danny nudged Casey and nodded her way.
"Is she holding a bat?" Casey's eyebrows arched. "She's holding a bat."
"What do you think," Danny leaned in and whispered, "actually insane, or a fighter in the anti-Disney army?"
The girl half-snored, and then coughed before falling silent again.
"Have no fear, citizens! Sleep Apnea Girl is defending you."
"... from Walt Disney's cryogenically preserved evil!" Danny added.
"Prowling the Port Authority with her bat of justice," Casey slipped into a hushed version of his on-air voice, "she smites all who dare speak of quality children's animation."
Danny snickered and yawned.
The train jerked to a stop on 33rd street. Casey and Dan stood and watched as Sleep Apnea Girl woke, looked around, and fell back to sleep. Casey chuckled and made his way out.
On the stairs leading up onto the street, Danny skated his fingertips over the corroded railing.
"You going back to the office?"
Casey nodded, "I was thinking I'd grab my car, yeah."
They walked north with the cool air whipping around the sparkling dark of Sixth Avenue.
"I had a good day." Danny's hands were jammed in his pockets.
Casey raised an eyebrow. It was starting to rain.
"We're both out five hundred bucks, since Lady Luck left us for a tiny dork with a talent for poker. Our car failed us in a pyrotechnic display so spectacular it'd make a Grucci cry, and we spent the last four hours on public transportation experiencing the sights, smells, and spastic tics of the tri-state area's finest. Also, it's raining."
"Yeah," Danny smiled that way he sometimes did, a barely perceptible quirk of his lips paired with the spark of happiness around his eyes.
"Okay, Danny," Casey stopped and turned, "you know I can usually suss out what you mean from what you say, but I'm going to need a little more, 'cuz right now I'm tired, damp, and I don't even have gas money."
"It was our day off. We had a road trip; an adventure. Jeremy schooled us, Texas Hold'em style. We've been up since six o'clock, and it's looking like we won't get to bed until about that time again. We're grown men, with good jobs and good lives, walking home from the subway after a long day of … doin' stuff. And it's raining."
Casey smiled. They started walking again.
"Damn, Danny. I guess it was a good day."
"Better. Adventure, Casey. It's all about adventure."
"I don't know how you do that."
"Hmm?" Danny sidestepped a small, growing puddle.
"Make things okay. Like that."
"It's a gift."
"Don't I know it."
© scrunchy 2004