Fifty Miles South of Disney

by Steve Loiaconi

The door screams across the dirty linoleum floor, rousing me from a shallow, uncomfortable sleep. The light pouring in from the outer room obscures my view at first, but I hear two sets of footsteps. As they approach, I get a better look at the second man shuffling along next to the guard who has been checking on me periodically all night. The new guy has a scruffy beard and long brown hair. He’s younger than me, stumbling in a way that suggests he’s drunk or injured. He trips and, before the cop can catch him, his head crashes against the steel bars of the cell. This close, I can smell Jack Daniels on his breath and see blood drying on his tattered white dress shirt, his gray pants stained with dirt.

The officer unlocks the cell door, metal jangling against metal as the bars slide. He gently nudges the man in. He peers down at a clipboard in his hand and looks at us, sighs, and shakes his head. He slides the bars closed, and the clatter reverberates in my ear. The lock rattles into place. The officer walks away, whistling a pop song I can’t quite recognize but I know I hate with a fiery passion. He closes the door to the cell block behind him with excessive force.

I briefly make eye contact with my new cellmate. If it came down to it, I tell myself I could take him.

He looks down at his cot. As he surveys the room, I think I hear him laugh just a little. He walks over to the sink and rolls up his sleeves. He looks like he works out, a nagging reminder of that gym membership I’ve had for years and hardly ever use.

“You’re awake, Wally,” he says, in an irritatingly familiar way.

“Do I know you?”

“You were sleeping when they brought me in. Just went to use my phone call.”

“Who’d you call?” I sit back down on my cot. “Lawyer?”

“Dominos.” He pauses, presumably to allow for laughter. There isn’t any. “Yow. Tough room. Okay. I was trying to call my wife.”

He turns on the faucet and splashes cold water on his face. He runs his hands through his curly hair, shaking free bits of dirt, and adds, “She didn’t pick up.”

Despite myself, I feel compelled to respond. “Neither did mine,” I say.

I’ve been in this holding cell at a police station 50 miles south of Orlando for I don’t know how many hours. Fighting myself, wrestling with intangible black emotions, wondering how southern Florida could be this cold in late July, and searching for a way out of this corner I painted myself into. None of it is going particularly well.

I dialed my wife’s number when they first brought me in, using the ancient rotary pay phone in the hallway. My finger circled the dial quickly as I tried not to think of the other men who used that phone over the years and things they must have done to get here. Waiting for her to pick up, that brief silence between rings seemed endless. My mind desperately fumbled for the right words to say to her. The magic explanation that would make all of this go away, sweep it under the rug of things we pretend never happened. When the call went to her voicemail after the fourth ring, I found I could say nothing. Sitting here watching my new cellmate shake water out of his long hair like a freshly bathed dog, I can’t say my situation has improved any.

He takes his shirt off and tries to dry his face with it. Unprovoked, with his voice slightly muzzled by the fabric, he says, “I know, you’re wondering about the beard, right?”

“Not really, no.”

“I’m Jesus,” he says. His speech slurs just enough to make me wish I was drunk. “I play Jesus, I mean. At the The Holy Land Experience down off I-4. At least, I did. I got fired last week. Now I’m just a guy with really long hair and a god complex. Call me Max.”

“The Holy what now?”

“Land Experience. The Holy Land Experience. It’s like a big living Bible. They do famous scenes, they all wear costumes. You ever been to a kids’ school Christmas pageant?”

“Many of them.” I think of my daughter up on stage, standing in the background in a ramshackle sheep costume she and I stayed up all night putting together.

“It’s like that,” he says. “Except we got paid and there’s a huge indoor model of Jerusalem circa 66 AD. I still remember most of my lines if you’d like to see a little of my routine. I mean, it’s not going to be the same without the props, but still.”

“This is going to be a long night,” I mutter to myself, apparently louder than I intended.

“It already has been,” Max says as he leans over the sink, beads of water occasionally dripping from his beard. I lie back down. He returns to his cot and sits. Just as I close my eyes to try to sleep again, he says, “Wondering what I’m in for?”

From his tone, I know he’s going to tell me no matter what I say.

“There’s this restaurant in Orlando,” he says. “It’s racing-themed. All kinds of exhibits. Cars everywhere, a few hanging from the ceiling, signed uniforms, trophies. They’ve got these big screens all over so you can watch famous racing crashes while you eat. It’s pretty fucking cool. You know the place?”

“No idea.”

“Come on. They also have the world’s biggest monster truck.”

“What can I say? I’m not from around here.”

“It’s awesome. You need to check it out sometime,” he says. I think he’s serious. “So me, my wife Diane, my friend Joe, and his wife, we decide to go out for a romantic dinner.”

“Nothing says romance like the world’s biggest monster truck.”

“I know, right? Anyway, we get to drinking pretty heavy. And I guess that’s where the whole thing sort of went off the rails.”

After an unnecessarily lengthy description of his meal that does little more than remind me that I should have been sitting down for a 7:30 dinner reservation with my family hours ago, his story quickly devolves into bad porn.

“So,” Max says, “I’m eating this perfectly-cooked steak and I notice my wife and Joe’s wife giving each other these sultry glances, like the kind she used to give me before we got freaky in a Denny’s restroom. Probably should have known something was up, but then they shimmy their seats closer together during dessert. Again, weird, but I didn’t think much of it. We’re out in the parking lot after dinner and I’m 60 percent sure I see them kissing in my side view mirror as I’m unlocking the car. I tell myself it’s nothing. We get back to my place, I pour some drinks, Joe and I get to talking, eventually we realize our ladies are conspicuously absent.

“We hear some giggles from the bedroom, creak the door open, and… Bam! Our wives on the bed, like five-eighths to three-quarters naked, all hot and horny, writhing and groping at each other and whatnot. So me and Joe stand there in the doorway a minute, just slackjawed, like we don’t know whether to be devastated or aroused, you know what I’m saying?”

“I really don’t,” I respond when I figure out that wasn’t rhetorical.

“Yeah, you do,” he nods. “So I stand there, admittedly longer than might be considered polite. Once the ladies make clear I’ve worn out my welcome, I notice Joe’s gone. I find him outside on the sidewalk just staring at a streetlight. I try to talk to him, but all he says is, ‘I need to hit something.’”

“We live on a quiet street, which is normally just ducky, but the silence. The silence, man.” He pauses for a moment, thinking. “I don’t know, I punched him. Like, hard.”

Across the cell, Max’s face is half-hidden in shadows.

“I’m not sure exactly what happened from there,” he says. Whether it’s because he really can’t remember or he just doesn’t want to say it, I can’t tell. “It’s all a blur. I pushed him through a plate-glass window at some point.”

“You pushed him through a window?” I ask, slightly disconcerted.

“You say it like you wouldn’t have.” Somewhere in the back of my mind, I hear Goofy laughing. Then he adds, “Twice, actually.”

“You pushed him through the window twice?”

“Not the same window. Two different ones on the same guy’s patio. Man, that dude was pissed.” His voice walks a thin line between pride and shame. “So yeah. Assault, disturbing the peace. And destruction of property. I think Joe’s in the hospital now.”

I shake my head and lean against the wall, silently counting cars as they pass by outside. I try not to think that every dark minivan that slows down out there could be my wife.

“Don’t worry,” Max says. “You don’t have to tell me why you’re here.”

“Was I going to?” I ask, turning away from the street.

“I already know,” he says. He points to his forehead. “I have low-level psychic abilities. I predicted the death of Sir Alec Guinness to an accuracy of within four weeks.”

“Why were you trying to predict the death of Alec Guinness?”

“Sir Alec Guinness. Respect the knighthood. It was a celebrity death pool. Pick an aging celebrity, pick a death date. Make a couple hundred bucks if you’re right. Bonus if you guess the cause. You want in?”

I think about it for a moment. As oddly tempting as it may be, gambling is somewhere on the list of things that I have, at one time or another, promised my wife I would never do again.

“No, thanks,” I say.

“Suit yourself. Anyway, all I’m saying is, I know why you’re here. You’re a male prostitute.”

I stare at him in silence.

“No? Okay. You been putting poisonous snakes in ex-girlfriends’ mailboxes?”

I shake my head and look down into the sink. “Hell of a gift you got there.”

“Damn. This usually works better.”

I run water over my hands, trying to rinse off some of the dirt and dust that has gathered on them from these walls and these bars. He watches me from his cot. An uncomfortable tension fills the space between us.

“So,” he says after an awkward pause, “what are you in for?”


The morning started well. Sun shining into our hotel room, fresh bagels, coffee, semi-educational hyper-kinetic cartoons to keep the kids occupied while my wife and I got ready for a long day of waiting in lines and pretending to be thrilled by the prospect of sitting in giant, slowly spinning tea cups.

The police chase, obviously, came later.

Things began rolling downhill as soon as we pulled into the absurdly massive and absurdly crowded Disney World parking lot. You would think with a lot the size of Rhode Island they could accommodate everyone who needed to park under a giant picture of Donald Duck, but you would be wrong. After a half hour of weaving through aisles of parked cars and being cut off by the same bright red Volvo at every turn, I saw a space at the end of a row. I sped toward it, seeing the Volvo creep around the corner, skidding into the space just seconds ahead of it.

When we finally got to the entrance, I looked back and realized I had no clue where I had just parked. I asked the family if they knew how to get back to the car. My son and daughter pointed in opposite directions and I felt an unwelcome tinge of frustration. I paid something near what my first car cost to a disinterested teen in a ticket booth for four passes to get in.

The thing about amusement parks is, you love them or you hate them intensely. The bright colors, the long lines, the screaming kids, the repetitive rides, the incessant need to pander to the perceived IQ of the sub-average 4-year-old. The only hope, the one even remotely shimmering silver lining of it all is the look on your kid’s face when he gets to the front of the line and has the chance to do the one thing that really mattered to him for the last fifteen minutes.

He gets to drive a bumper car.

And you sit there next to him, placating the ride operator who requires that he have a responsible adult in the car with him to play a game where the object is to drive as recklessly as possible and get hit as much as you can. You let him steer. You hold him when the car gets hit and pretend it disorients you as much as it does him. And you make sure he hears you laugh and sees your most sincere smile. Constantly.

No matter how many times you do it, how stupid it all looks in retrospect, how ridiculously sentimental you feel when you think about it, that really does make it all worth it.

It’s the only thing, besides the thought of getting home, going to sleep, and dreaming of being anywhere but here, that you have to look forward to when you’re out there, boiling in your own sweat in the Orlando sun. When you’re deprived of that smile, that look, you’ve got nothing.

So when we get to the front of the line for Space Mountain, after nearly an hour of standing in 100 degree heat, my kids’ excitement growing with every step toward the ride we took, when, after all that, some goon in a…whatever the hell Goofy is…costume stops us, takes me aside, and tells me my daughter is too short to go on the ride, I think I was justifiably upset.

I tried to reason with him.

I thought about trying to reason with him. Instead, I hit him.


Max laughs harder and longer than I’d consider appropriate. When he stops, he says, “There’s something missing here.” He thinks for a second, then snaps his fingers. “Got it. Cigarettes. We should be smoking.”


“Two guys in prison, talking as men do. Times like this, a fella should be smoking.” He mimes smoking a cigarette like I might not know what one is. “It’s just a natural thing.”

“We’re in a holding cell in Leesburg, not death row at San Quentin.”

“Whatever. My point is, and I know you tell your kids what you got to tell them, teach them what’s right and what’s ‘cancerous,’ but here and now, mano a mano, come on, let’s just say it: smoking is cool. It is.”

“I don’t smoke,” I say. Anymore, is the truth. I don’t tell him I had to quit because a few years ago my daughter invented a game where she’d hide my packs of cigarettes as soon as I bought them and I’d have to go out and buy new ones. It was more fun for her than it was for me. Half the time, I couldn’t figure out how she found them—in my car, in my briefcase, she even managed to swipe a carton from a locked drawer in my desk on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. I was certain her mother put her up to it, but neither of them would ever admit that.

Max whistles. I’m jolted out of a sort of daze. “You okay?” he says. “You went off to your own little world there for a minute.”

I rub my eyes, stretch my aching legs and think, No, I am very far from okay.


I didn’t expect to hurt him. I mean, come on, these guys wear giant plush suits that feel like they’re layered with cotton candy. How much could one punch in the face hurt?

A lot, apparently. Especially when it knocks him off balance and sends him hurtling over the guardrail and through the roof of a pretzel stand below. His mask released a muffled scream.

It was at that point that I did something perhaps stupider than punching Goofy.

I ran.

Somewhere in my mind, I knew this was a bad idea. One punch wasn’t that big of a deal. I could have stayed there and explained to the police what happened. I’m sure other people would have backed me up. I mean, who doesn’t want to hit one of those guys?

And yet, I ran.

I ran with my wife frantically calling for me to come back and restraining my son by his shirt collar as he tried to run after me, leaving them behind, feeling the emotional impact of that punch still resonating in my fists, not wanting to admit it felt pretty good. I looked back frequently, but eventually, I turned and they weren’t there anymore. I was alone in the happiest place on earth, strangers swimming through the crowd around me, towing their families along with them, brushing past me like I didn’t exist.

There was a very brief moment when the appeal of being on the lam seduced me. Perpetually moving, wearing disguises, hiding behind false identities. News reports warning the public that I could be armed and dangerous. Federal marshals cursing my name and dispatching a small army of agents to hunt me down. Dodging bullets, running through forests, leaping off cliffs and into rivers. The adventures a 36-year-old father from Delaware never gets to have.

The Fugitive, starring Wally Allen and Tommy Lee Jones.

I was pulled out of the fantasy by a security guard shouting my name from behind me. I turned and saw him approaching, with several others close behind him. I had imagined a security force made up entirely of Goofys, Mickeys and Donald Ducks. I was a bit disappointed to see a bunch of overweight dudes in uniforms riding Segways. Again, though, I had the opportunity to stop, to give up.

Again, I ran.

I was able to regain some distance on them, running faster and breaking toward where I hoped the parking lot was. I slowed down as I approached the exit of the park. I tried to be inconspicuous, shuffling through the center of a German tour group. I ducked into the labyrinth of SUVs and minivans and pushed onward. I wanted to get back to my family, but I didn’t know where they—or my car, for that matter—were. My wife had my phone in her purse because I hadn’t been able to fit it in my pocket this morning.

I decided I needed to find a car I could break into and at least borrow until I found them. I stopped at an old Toyota that didn’t appear to have any kind of alarm system. I was composing a polite note to the owner in my head, apologizing for the inconvenience and telling them how to contact me to get it back, as I prepared to try to break the driver’s side window with my elbow.

It hurt.

I tried several more times, my arm growing almost unbearably sore and not even cracking the glass, before a larger problem occurred to me: I don’t know how to hotwire a car. I mean, you do a thing under the steering wheel so you can pull down a bunch of wires. You do another thing, connect the right wires and the engine starts, but I don’t know which wires.

Panic set in. I was totally lost. I had to get back to our hotel, is all I was thinking. They’d have to go there eventually, right? My mind raced and I started to feel dizzy. Then I looked around and saw a man walking away from his car with his keys in his hand, trailing his wife and daughter by about 100 feet. So I took what seemed to be the only reasonable action at the time.

I ran out from behind the Toyota and tackled him. His head thudded against the asphalt and I ripped the keys from his hand and bolted for his car. It was a relatively new Lexus. I unlocked it, got in and started the engine. I could see through the windows of the Jeep next to me that the man’s wife was helping him get up. I shifted into reverse, whipped out of the space, put it in drive and slammed my foot on the gas.

As I sped away from the park, heading northwest on the highway, I kept playing out different scenarios for where this goes from here in my mind, each more elaborate than the last and none of them ending well. At some point, I missed the exit for our hotel, continuing south, not even noticing it.


“This is the part that’s hard to explain,” I say, attempting to figure out how to put the best possible spin on what happened to me next.

“Beating the crap out of a father in front of his kid?” Max says. He’s looking down, holding his head in his hands. It’s like he’s embarrassed for both of us. “Yeah, that’s tricky.”

“All I did was tackle him,” I say with a defensive shrug.

“And steal his car.”

“I had to.” I’m slightly unsettled that I nearly believe myself. “Alright, you know that guy you see on the news speeding down the highway with like twenty cop cars behind him and you’re watching thinking, who is this idiot and how does he think this is going to end?”

“That’s damn good television,” Max says. “But it makes sense to me. Who wants to get caught?”

“See, I think it’s more than that,” I say as my eyes dart toward the window. “What I think is, he’s thinking, there’s got to be a way out. He knows the odds are against him, but he has faith that there is always a way out. You just need to keep looking until you find it.”

Max just stares at me.

“Faith is a dangerous thing for an irrational man to have,” I add.

“Or the guy just really, really doesn’t want to get caught,” Max says.

He’s not wrong, but I like my version better. It makes it sound almost noble.


After about a half hour of driving aimlessly, the red and blue lights of a police car flashed behind me. I slowed down to let it pass, but it slowed with me. I pulled over onto the shoulder and it followed. An officer stepped out and walked toward me. Watching him, I realized how serious the situation was. And I realized I had to keep running.

There’s always a way out. Isn’t there?

I slammed my foot on the gas and drove off. In the rear-view mirror, I saw the cop stumble and race back to his vehicle. I also saw the lights and heard the sirens of several other police cars in the distance, catching up fast. I drove on, swinging through traffic, trying to maintain control of the car. A hovering police helicopter tracked the Lexus, its spotlight shining down on me from above. I looked up at it through the car’s sunroof, letting it distract me for a moment, and when I turned my head back to the road, I was seconds away from crashing into the back of a Volkswagen. I jerked the wheel to the right, slammed on the brakes and skidded across two lanes of traffic, spinning off onto the shoulder and screeching to a stop. My heart was raging and my whole body was shaking.

I fainted just as the police surrounded me and I woke up in the back of a police car. Raw, tired, ashamed, and wondering how my children were.


Max glares at me for a long time. I’m fairly certain he’s judging me.

“All this over Space Mountain,” he says eventually. “If it’s any consolation, I went on it a few years ago and, dude, the ride kind of sucks.”

“It’s not.” I walk to the bars and focus on the cell block door.

“Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t be. But come on, you hit a cartoon character.”

“I know. But he was just standing there looking so damn…”

“Goofy?” he says with an insincere smirk.

“I don’t know what it was.” I search for justification I know I don’t have. “He wouldn’t let my kid on the ride. I guess I just snapped.”

“And that explains stealing the car too, huh?”

The pain in my head returns. I’m a 36-year-old investment banker and a few hours ago I stole a car. I stole a car because I didn’t want to get arrested for punching a theme park employee. I punched a theme park employee because my kid couldn’t go on a stupid ride. And now I’m in jail. I can see clearly how I got from A to B. All the dots connect. That doesn’t make me feel any better about having done any of it.

I think of my wife, what she might be doing right now. In our hotel room, hysterical, calling hospitals and jails all around Orlando while at the same time trying to calm the children, telling them everything will be okay and wishing she could believe it. My mind tries to calculate the longest possible time it could take them to find me out here. I also think of the possible sentences carried by the several felony charges I might be facing. In my head, I see her going back home to Delaware with the kids, reluctantly admitting to all of our relatives that I abandoned them at Disney World and went on a mad crime spree. I see her at holidays, cocktail parties and weddings, searching for a delicate way to explain to friends that I’m incarcerated. I see her in our bed, watching TV at night, feeling desperate nostalgia when our favorite shows come on, storing them up on the DVR until she runs out of space. I see her at my son’s grade school graduation, clapping softly, an empty seat beside her, trying not to look too out of place. I see her five to seven years from now, waiting for me as I step outside a state penitentiary, her new husband idling their trendy SUV across the street as she gives me an awkward handshake and walks away forever.

I sit down on my cot and wonder if Max notices my body trembling.         

“Couple of years ago,” he says suddenly, and I realize he’s too lost in his own thoughts to notice anything about me, “somewhere out west. LA, San Francisco, I’m not sure. It’s raining. People have umbrellas up. Crowded streets. Way it is in big cities. So there’s these two guys, they pass each other. Umbrellas collide. No big thing, right? Well, one dude stops, closes his umbrella, lances the tip of it into the other guy’s eye. Thing pierced his brain.”

“He stabbed the guy in the eye with an umbrella?”

“Does it really sound that crazy?”

Images of a giant dog-like creature in overalls being pounded into the concrete by a man who looks unsettlingly like me flood my head.

“No,” I say. “I suppose it doesn’t.”

“One thing leads to another leads to another leads to this,” he says a moment later, gesturing to the walls around us. “Sometimes, life is just one long slippery slope. Right?”

I don’t answer. I just lay there peacefully and try to fade away.


I wouldn’t call it a dream because I know I’m not asleep. It’s just this scene that’s been playing out over and over in my head all night as I twist and turn on the cot:

One of the officers tells me I have a visitor. He leads me out of the cell and into the bright station lobby where my son sits waiting and surveying the walls of the station with a sense of fear that even I can feel. It takes my eyes a moment to adjust.

“Five minutes,” the officer says, checking a pocket watch.

I hug my son. 

I wipe a tear from his eye.

I hug him again.

As he pulls himself away from me, I ask him, “Where’s Mommy?”

He stands.

“Goodbye, Daddy,” he says.

He walks out the door.


Sick of watching my boy walk away in my mind, I open my eyes and sit up. I survey my surroundings, disoriented. Max stands over the toilet in the corner.

“Bad dream?” he asks.

I feel a sharp pain in my forehead. I lean forward, resting my head between my knees.

 “Long fucking night, bro. Long fucking night,” he says. I hear him zip his fly. “So I just been over here thinking, there’s gotta be a way I can make some money off this professional Jesus thing. Like do some infomercials or a hidden-camera prank show. I’m leaning toward, like, a discount electronics warehouse or something. You know, ‘Looking for a good deal on a flatscreen TV? Come to Jesus! Our savings are divine!’ Something like that.”

“You’re taking this jail thing strangely well, you know that?”

“I’m still pretty drunk,” he says. He talks over the flushing toilet. “But come on, you need a new stereo. Who you gonna trust—some high school dropout at Best Buy…or Jesus?”

I lie back down and turn away from him, my headache subsiding a little.

As he washes his hands, he asks, “You know something else I was thinking about? The Hulk.”

I turn toward him and sit up. “Like from the TV show?

He gives me a brief confused look. Then he shakes his head and says, “Oh, yeah. I forgot. You’re old. You would have been, like, a kid when that was on.”

“I’m 36. I can’t be more than seven or eight years older than you.”

“You’re only—geez, really?” He stares at my face for a moment. “You look older. Anyway, no, I was thinking about the comic books. When I was young, I always thought smashing stuff like he did looked fun. Ran around being all ‘Max smash puny human! Max smash!’ Shattering my mom’s dishes on the kitchen floor. You know how it is.”

“I really don’t.”

“But now—” He cuts himself off and looks at his hands. “Hey, do your knuckles hurt?”

“No. Goofy was kind of, you know, plushy.”

“My knuckles hurt.” He’s flexing his fingers and trying to open and close a fist. “I think I might have broken something. You ever hit anybody before? Before tonight, I mean.”

“In high school, I guess.” I think back hazily. “A few times. Everybody does at that age.”

“I didn’t.”

“Did other people hit you a lot?”

“Depends how you want to define ‘a lot.’”

“I’ll tell you,” I say, “the reason they hit you is because you never hit back.”

“Also because I was fat, I had asthma, and I had a pink backpack.” He shrugs, “But I’m just saying, tonight, the smashing? Not as fun as I hoped.”

He lies down and within minutes I hear him snoring.


I watch him sleep, jealous. Tired as I am, I don’t even close my eyes at this point. Like I’m afraid logic is going to shiv me in my sleep and spill whatever’s left of me onto the cold, hard floor. So I just lie here, starting to get used to the feeling of the hard mattress. I look up, studying the way the one light bulb illuminates long, jagged cracks in the white ceiling paint, like bolts of lightning, that reveal glimpses of the older, tarnished surface underneath.

“Handcuffs are not comfortable,” I hear Max say suddenly. He sits up, holding one wrist with the other hand and gazing at it like he’s looking for bruises. “I mean, duh, obviously. But seriously, more than you’d think, right?”

I look down at my own wrists and see the faint outlines of where the cuffs had constricted around them. “I was surprised by that too,” I say.

Max looks to the window. “Not much traffic around here this time of night,” he says.

He tries to assess the damage to his hands again, turning his palms over, raising them toward the ceiling light. He balls his right hand into a fist and jabs it against his left palm, the smacking sound of the impact echoing in the silence. After the fourth or fifth time, he stops.

“Yep, that’s painful,” he says. Then, he looks over at me. “Hey, it’s kind of taking your woman a really long time to find you, isn’t it?”

“It’s a big state,” I say. It’s a reasonable question, one I’ve been avoiding because I don’t like any of the possible answers. But to be honest, the more I think about it, I’m not sure I’m ready to face my wife yet.

I wonder if she is even really looking for me or if she’s leaving me here for the night in one of her attempts to teach me a valuable lesson about something.  I don’t want to let myself think that she might not be coming at all, but I know it’s possible. We’ve been together for more than ten years and, sure, we’ve had our good days and our bad days, but this is one of those tests neither of us ever prepared for.  Nothing in our wedding vows addressed how one of us should react if the other beat up a fictional character and stole a car.

Lack of foresight on our part, I suppose.

I think about rotting here in this cell for god knows how long, or being transferred to someplace worse and sharing cells with real criminals, going on trial and being sent to a prison full of killers and rapists. I grit my teeth and try to block out the fear. It doesn’t work.

 Briefly, my mind turns to this meditation class my wife made me take once. It’s never worked before, but I close my eyes and try to focus my energy, become aware of myself and what’s happening inside me. I sense my blood coursing through my veins, my muscles tensing and relaxing, my lungs operating, my heart beating.

“Question,” Max says, snapping me out of it. He strokes his beard. “Do you think people would pay to have Jesus appear at their kids’ birthday parties?”

“No,” I say. I take another look outside. Only a few stars break through the smog and clouds above, drawing a crooked line to the barely-visible half moon above.

“Come on,” he says. “It’s just like having a clown or a mathamagician. Except it’s Jesus.”

“I don’t think kids would be into that,” I say. I step away from the window.

“I’d have business cards,” he adds. “’For a miraculous birthday, call Jesus!’”

He continues to think out loud, rambling enthusiastically about turning water into Kool-Aid and walking across swimming pools, but I tune it all out.

I lie back down, close my eyes, turn to the wall, and wait for the light to burn out.

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2 Responses to “Fifty Miles South of Disney”

  1. Connie Henrich Says:

    Excellent! Really holds you, tight writing; no wasted words

  2. Steve Sullivan Says:

    Water into Kool-Aid. Love it.

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