[Veronica returns home, returning to the warmth of her best friend Jimmy’s side. She tells him what has happened. He wants to help, and he arranges for her to meet a very peculiar fellow—a treasure hunter with an even more peculiar collection of skulls. He gives her some insight on the problem she’s trying to solve and an added complication more dangerous and mysterious than he’s able to explain. She must experience it.]
After landing, Veronica makes her way through Tampa
International Airport floating on some surreal reckless cloud, surrounded by
ethereal insects scurrying about. All of magnificent unimportance, she brushes them
away, ensuring all possibilities of unsolicited human interaction are squashed.
From vendors and hustlers to self-absorbed families and business mates
traveling in pods, clogging up pedestrian traffic flow, she aggressively stomps
through the mindless piles of ants. She crashes down from high above at baggage
claim, acquiring a single garment bag and bounces out the front doors with a single
goal: to commission a cab and head back home. Once through the airport doors,
the humid Florida summer night air fills her lungs with thick steam and clings
to her skin as a hot, wet blanket. She takes in the familiar deep, liquid
breaths and begins to feel her native Floridian gills reanimate. Searching the
scene before her for a cab, nothing, not one to be found. She approaches a
baggage check attendant appearing as a mime—animated and silent. All at once,
she erupts into voluminous speech. Spending the past 12 hours in self-imposed
muted silence, she finds she can’t shut up. Words just start billowing with no
particular order or purpose, out beyond her lips. She can even see the medley
of letters spilling in front of her—bursting consonants mixed haphazardly with
flowing vowels, but she can’t stop them from coming. She’s talking so much and
so fast, such nonsense, she’s frightened.
The circuitry in her brain has surely shorted out, and her sanity is
compromised. The baggage check attendant stares at her, horrified by the
oddity, fearing she might suddenly turn crazed and dangerous. The attendant’s
sweaty hand is gripping the black desk phone. She’s about to alert security.
Suddenly, Veronica feels a hand at her back and
simultaneously feels a rage boil in her gut. A violation of personal space, a
rape of her darkened aura, hyper-sensitive and desperately vulnerable, her
fingers grow to talons ready to attack. Veronica swung around and froze.
Melting just as suddenly at the sight before her, her best friend with a
leather overnight bag flung over his shoulder, right at her side. He pecks her
on the cheek and smiles warmly.
“Hi, Love. I heard you from inside. You want a ride?”
She melts into his arms, silenced again, at peace with a
quiet mind. She smiles up at him, while he slides her to one side of his
shoulder, holding her close, he brings her back inside the airport, then up to
the parking garage and into his Honda Element, still smelling faintly of moldy
SCUBA gear. Unpleasant but familiar, the scent sooths her further, and she
settles inside. No words were spoken between them. None were needed. Best
friends. They know what the other is thinking whether together or continents
apart. They know. Everything is finally okay. Tonight, it is all okay.
About 15 minutes into the 40 minute drive, Jimmy, a
little uncomfortable breaks the comfortable silence saying, “You want to bunk
with me tonight or stay at the Surf’s Inn?” She didn’t answer right away, but the
timing was actually crucial. He needed to know which exit to take off of the
“You have gin?” she asks.
“Tanqueray 10 with tonic, ice and a few fresh limes,” he
“Your place,” she says, and then snuggles into her seat
resting her eyes. She has no intention of drinking tonight, and he knows it
too. It was a trick question, she already knew the answer—he always keeps a
bottle around just for her, in case one day she’ll be in town, and he can serve
her favorite drink. They both smile, though not facing each other, just glad
that they’ll be spending time together, sharing the same roof, waking to each
other’s smile. No matter if they’re spending time silent, battling over some
inconsequential disagreement or laughing uncontrollably and sharing intimate
thoughts. Together they’re happy. Together, they are reminded what love looks
like. And its face looks like them.