Work smarter, not harder
The past few weeks have been overwhelming for me. Please accept my apology for the delay in the release of these chapters. I’ll keep transcribing them as I find the notepads I scrawled them in. If you would please share my substack with your friends. I would appreciate it. Right now, this is my only personal income, Paid subscriptions are always appreciated.
"Butter," the man thought, licking his lips. He stared at the golden stack of pancakes on his plate, dripping with melted butter and maple syrup. He had been eating dry and bland wheat cakes for years until he met Gasolina. She had taught him the secret of making perfect pancakes: butter. Lots of butter.
"Honey, you're amazing. I don't know how you do it. I can barely cook anything edible. Thank you for being you." He reached across the table and squeezed her hand, looking into her eyes with gratitude and love.
Gasolina smiled and kissed his cheek. She loved making breakfast for her man. He deserved it after all they had been through together.
She had a knack for cooking on the Coleman cookstove, which they had found in an abandoned cabin. She could whip up eggs, bacon, toast, and pancakes in no time, using whatever ingredients they could scavenge or trade. She was especially proud of her Teflon pan, which she treated like a precious jewel. She never let it get too hot or scratched because she knew how hard it was to find a good pan these days. She had seen what happened to other pans: warped, flaked, ruined. She didn't want that to happen to her pan. It was her kitchen treasure. The skillet was light and delicate, sideless, square, and covered with sleek, scratch-free Teflon. There was a natural skill to cooking with a lightweight pan. This one was perfect for omelets, crepes, pancakes, and practically anything that could be fried. Yet, if she were to overheat it, then it would warp. Warped pans would puddle the eggs into a corner. The pancakes would not cook evenly, and eventually, you could not even fry bacon on a bent pan because the grease would leak into the flame. Now, that is sure a disaster when a grease fire starts up. After that, the Teflon would flake off and be like pepper in the scrambled eggs. Gasolina was uncertain about Teflon, but she was reasonably sure there was no recommended daily allowance for it in her man's diet. No new pan was happening anytime soon, so she took good care of this skillet. Yes, it was a treasure to her.
"Pancakes are easy, but getting them right is an art. You are always trying to science them into submission. I add a little magic, and then pancakes appear." Gasolina said with a smirk.
Gasolina and her man finished their breakfast and got ready to hit the road. They had a lead to follow, and they didn't want to waste any time. They had been searching for Gasolina's children for over a year, ever since they were kidnapped by a mysterious organization called ROM. ROM was rumored to be behind many atrocities and experiments involving human cloning, mind control, and dimensional travel.
She tried to keep her mind off the negative news on the radio. Her man always had that transistor radio blaring. He would be the perfect man for her if she could eliminate that. As it was, he was practically perfect.
They had been moving consistently with a purpose for over a year. Since the murder of Laqueesha's boyfriend in her house, it was one stop after the next. They followed every rumor or chance of a trace. She had not lost hope that her children were still alive. So they pushed forward into every new day, looking for them.
"It's mission creep," Cindy said.
"We have become mired down, stuck fixing problem after problem that pops up. Problems after problems are eating up our resources to the point we cannot accomplish our mission. Spending our energy reacting to trouble instead of following our operational plan." She added.
Danny loved Cindy and was proud of how she took charge of missions. Her seriousness was only a facade. He had seen the sweet innocence behind her furrowed-out forehead and wrinkled eyes. Their times together were something Danny cherished. He never told her about the fact that her becoming part of ROM had also been mission creep.
It turned out Danny could not function. He mentally lost it. After the pod saved him from the dreadful, icy fall, Danny could not accept that his girl froze to death, alone and injured on a mountainside. His stupidity left her stuck to a tree. Danny's part with ROM had been inevitable. Cindy was a mission creep because Danny could not function without her.
Cindy and Danny had been using Gasolina for a while. ROM had learned that Gasolina and her man were looking for her children, who had been kidnapped and taken to ROM, their ship, which connected at the causal rip in reality, to both this earth and all of eternity.
Passing leads off to Gasolina’s man via the internet had helped them secure easy causal timeline changes without their direct involvement in any particular local time event.
"Work smarter, not harder." Danny always said. It was something he had heard his father say often, usually after Danny had completed some task backasswords.
"Gasolina, we got a lead." The man said.
His messages were always full of spam. One popped on his screen while he sifted through the morning's trash. In between the messages for unneeded sexual potions, loans, and unbelievable get-rich schemes, he always seemed to find the messages from Danny. Who was Danny? He had no idea, but without fail, Danny’s messages always proved to be somewhat productive. At least they kept the couple moving. Otherwise, they would give up from the unrelenting weight of their journey. Without these hints from the anonymous Danny, they would have given up long ago.
A truck driver had picked up a couple of kids at a rest area the night before. They had been frantic. The truck driver drove them up 53 to the next town on the highway. He pulled into the Supermarket parking lot and got out to use the phone. He had a schedule to keep.
After talking with the police and agreeing to wait for them in the parking lot, he headed back to the cab of his truck, but the kids were gone. They'd left the truck while he was on the phone. The cops and the truck driver were not able to find them. Their descriptions matched Gasolina's mixed young teens. You are bound to find more leads in the Super 1’s parking lot.
Rathdrum was pretty close. Their campsite was only a few miles outside Coeur d'Alene. They had planned to leave Idaho that morning, but this tip sounded too good to be true. They had to investigate it further.
The man picked up his .45 revolver, tucked it into his shoulder holster, and started packing up the camp. Gasolina and he didn't suffer when camping. They had folding chairs, a nice table, lanterns, and a green Coleman cookstove. The filaments of the lanterns were a bit finicky. All in all, they worked fairly well. The light emitted by the lanterns was warm. Their mild jet roar was like a lullaby to the man. He never remembered turning off the lanterns. Within minutes of lighting them, he was always fast asleep. Gasolina's shore each evening was extinguishing the lamps and tucking her man in. He was so rugged and handsome, but at night, he slept like a little boy.
The man grabbed the ice chest. It was a classy piece of engineering. There was a drain on the side, so he never had to dump it out. Adding ice and draining water kept everything nice and cool.
The last thing in the back of the blue Ford LTD was the stove. He checked that it was cool enough with the side of his hands. Expertly, he folded the camp stove, shoved it into the back, and slammed the trunk shut.
"Let's go, their trail is still warm." He said, holding the door open for Gasolina.
The former entertainer picked up the rolled sleeping bag without bending her knees.
"One quick show for my man," she thought to herself.
Then, she picked up the roll with her fine hips on full display. She knew that her cut-off denim jeans were riding up some. She was still a dancer at heart, even though she had not worked for over a year. He always opened the door for her. She glanced down as she entered the car. He was a natural gentleman, but he couldn't hide that gun in his pants. It reminded her of their first meeting. She felt a little guilty for his excitement and silently thanked God for this man who was completely hers. He slammed the door with a satisfying thunk and slid across the hood of his old Ford like Bo or Luke Duke. He smiled at her, jumped in the car, and fired up the trusty 302 engine. His LTD may be old, but it wasn't full of mold. It was a mighty car and still worth a little gold.
"Let's go, Daisy Duke." Her man said, smirking back at her, and then sped out of the campsite with gravel flying.
Danny piloted the pod, parking it above the supermarket. Rathdrum was the brunt of jokes and superstition. Rathdrum was famous for witches and cannibals. Of course, this was an unfair label. The people of Rathdrum were kind and wonderful people. The Tridentines were often accused of being a Satanist organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their conservative Christian sect was completely opposite of this. Their church was devoted to God and Jesus. They had nothing to do with the worship of the dark lord.
Rumors of chains of humans blocking the roadway had nothing to do with the Tridentines. However, the human chains were real. This part of Idaho connects to alternate Earths. These human chains happened from time to time in otherwheres. These other parts of Creation slipped through to this particular world. Danny was taking advantage of this crack in reality. Their pod sat parked along the causal fault line. Cindy slipped her hand into Danny's. They sat. Waiting quietly and enjoying these moments of peace together was worth arriving early. Gasolina and her man would arrive in a while. Until then, this moment belonged to them. Not even rumors of satan could pry Danny and Cindy apart. They were a combined unit until the end of their days.
They had hired a truck driver to pick up two kids who looked like Gasolina's children and drop them off at a supermarket. They had hoped that Gasolina and her man would follow the lead, but things hadn't gone as planned. Gasolina should have already been in the Super 1 parking lot. Something was off on the mission clock.
"Danny, let go of my hand! We have to find those two. Something is way off!" Cindy said.
"Sorry, ma'am," Danny replied sarcastically.
He actuated the lever for the manual controls of the pod. Cyclic and collective sticks unfolded out of the instrument panel. Danny grabbed the controls and yelled, "Geronimo!"
"Engage," Cindy replied. Then they veered off towards the campground their couple had spent the previous evening in.