Friday, October 14, 2011

Chapter 14: Down the Aisle

At first, hearing Luke say they were going to Paris made McKenna's heart stop for a moment. The thought of leaving the country for any more adventure made her a bit nauseous. Then, just before she panicked, she hesitantly and cautiously asked, "Wait, you're joking." She chuckled nervously and added, "It's hard to tell if you're joking, sometimes."

Luke, who was walking ahead of the group into the grocery store, turned slightly and responded with an almost uneasy seriousness, "I'm not joking, actually. I've never been more serious in my life." Alfonzo and Jewel continued walking toward the store as McKenna and Ron stopped walking. Luke turned around and heaved a sigh. "We have to go to Paris."

At the same time, McKenna and her father urgently asked, "Why do we have to?"

"You know, because that just how things go sometimes," Luke responded, unhelpfully. He directed his attention to Ron. "Mainly because of Chris. Alfonzo realized some time ago that you would likely be more than helpful in this situation."

Uncomfortable, Ron replied, "I don't know if that's at all the case. I knew Chris years ago. My preference in this situation would be to not be involved with the situation at all. More importantly, McKenna shouldn't be a part of this."

Luke pursed his lips, turned, and began walking toward the store again and Ron followed behind. McKenna was surprised at the lack of resistance her dad was showing toward the new gang, especially after having been beaten up only a couple hours previous. She would have thought that Ron would cleverly manipulate some way of getting out of everything, but all he did was follow every command the gang gave him that night.

A few moments passed and McKenna was nearly alone in the poorly-lit parking lot. She lightly sprinted to catch up to the rest of the gang as she shouted to Luke, "But I don't even have a passport."

"You won't be needing a passport," Luke responded.

"I don't have anything packed, let alone anything with me."

"Why do you think we're taking a shopping trip?"

McKenna's eyes were starting to hurt from being awake, and her patience was starting to wear. She now had so many new questions regarding the unfolding situation, and she didn't even know where to begin asking about Paris.

As McKenna, Ron and Luke began to scope out the store, Alfonzo turned out of one of the aisles near them. "We'll be gone about five days," he said quickly and emotionlessly, and then he disappeared into another aisle with his squeaky-wheeled cart.

"That was...weird," McKenna thought out loud.

Luke was quick to sheepishly defend his uncle. "He can come off as odd, and maybe a little cryptic, but he's not bad. He's a good guy."

"He reminds me of a guy from school, years ago. You know, quiet. Cryptic, like you said. Maybe a little odd."

Feeling like she was the only one who was even mildly aware of the fact that they were all going to somehow venture to Europe soon, McKenna stated as she walked away to the dental hygiene aisle, "Well folks, I have teeth to brush before we go anywhere. Inside or outside of the country."

After sifting through the contents of the store, McKenna met up with everyone else at the check stand. An ornery girl who had hair that was dyed like a skunk and a mouth full of bright green bubble gum began scanning all of the items onto Alfonzo's card. She scrunched her eyebrows together as Alfonzo told everyone that a private jet was waiting for them about an hour away, and that Chris and his "buddies" were likely meeting up with some other "friends" near the Gare du Nord train station in Paris.

As everyone made their way back to the car, McKenna and Luke walked behind the group, shopping bags in each of their hands. McKenna asked quietly, "Where exactly did Alfonzo get access to private jet?"

"Different friends from over the years. I don't know from whom, exactly, but I don't know a lot about where he comes up with almost all his plan backups. You just kind of have to learn to roll with what Alfonzo puts together. He's smart. Street smart. He knows what he's doing."

Sketchy, McKenna thought. Was she really supposed to trust a guy who randomly pulls out the "I have a private jet" card? She felt like she was in a movie.

After loading everything into the trunk, the adventure began again. They turned onto a dark, narrow and abandoned stretch of road. Alfonzo began giving them more information regarding their escapade. "It'll take less than ten hours to get to France, so get your rest on the jet. After that, we'll need to get to Chris."

"What are we supposed to do when we find him?" Ron asked.

"We're not to that point, Professor. Please just listen and adhere to my plans, and it'll all unfold in no time." Ron shifted in his seat, irritated with Alfonzo's vague responses.

McKenna asked, "So, I don't understand how we're even supposed to get in to France, legally." As soon as she said the last word, she shrank down and bit her lip.

A few moments passed in a thoughtful silence. Out of the blackness of the night, a dark limousine slithered onto the road behind them. Its headlights punctured the thick darkness for a brief moment, and then were quickly shut off. Everyone in the car was quiet as they looked to Alfonzo for answers to their unspoken questions. McKenna's heartbeat began to speed up when Alfonzo didn't break the ominous silence. She turned to Luke and saw his jaw clenched and wide eyes desperately piercing the darkness.

A couple long and dark minutes passed in a confused quiet when a sleek, black car turned and pulled in front of them, its headlights off. Alfonzo angrily muttered into the silence as the car ahead slowed down. It was only a few feet in front of them now, and the limo was only inches behind. They were trapped between two shady and foreboding vehicles with no apparent way out getting out of the caravan.

Finally Jewel spoke up, her voice cracking. "Fonz, who are they?"

Alfonzo was silent. He shook his head and his grip tightened on the steering wheel. He finally spoke. "I don't have any idea who these people are, but I get this absurd feeling that maybe they know who we are.

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