"So?" asked Jay.
"We're fairly sure she would have preferred a man's heart and soul," said the old man. "Or so my ex-wives seem to think."
Jay nodded. If he'd been cursed into a mountain for something he didn't start, he'd probably have been out for blood too. "Yeah, okay. Makes sense." He looked back at the old man. "I'm still in."
The old man rummaged in the various pockets of his three-piece suit until he unearthed a black American Express card and held it out to Jay. "Your driver is waiting. After securing the necessary supplies, a private jet will take you to L.A. From there we have booked you on a ship that will sail you to Cape Disappointment. A guide will meet you there and lead you up the mountain."
"Um…sir?" Jay scratched his head. "We're in Portland. Mount St. Helens is like two hours from here. Can't I just--?"
The old man stamped his cane with authority, and more strength than Jay would have guessed was in the frail and withered arm. "It is about the journey, Mr. Lake. A hero must make the journey."
"You have got to be kidding me," Jay said under his breath.
The old man waved the credit card under Jay's nose. "A man with a black American Express does not kid." Jay snatched the offending card, like a slice of death, out of the emaciated fingers. "Your driver awaits."
Not only was his driver waiting, his driver was hot. There was just something about buxom women in uniform…not that it was much different from the something buxom women had in general. Wisps of auburn hair escaped from under her hat and floated around her long, graceful neck. She opened the door for him, and Jay noticed her perfectly-manicured blood-red nails. He waited until she started the car and began exiting the parking garage before sliding all the way forward and knocking on the tinted privacy window. It slid down in a hushed whisper of sweet nothing, and strains of Concrete Blonde's "Tomorrow Wendy" slipped through.
"What's your name?" he asked her.
"Adrienne." Her voice was like an angel's.
"Adrienne, I need some supplies. And some clothes."
"Clothes make the man," said Adrienne. "My father told me that."
The sentiment sparked lightning within his brain cloud and produced a bit of a storm there. The journey made the hero. Clothes made the man. He straightened. This man was mostly made from another thing entirely. "Your father is a wise man," said Jay. "I, however, am a foolish man with a death wish and a black American Express card. Want to help me have some fun?"
"Hell yes," said Adrienne.
They had fun, with a fuzzy navel chaser. And they shopped. Jay bought a trousseau of Hawaiian shirts. He even bought one for Adrienne. He tried to remember what else he would need: eight indestructible steamer trunks, bungee cords, rope, fresh water, sunscreen, edibles, floppy Gilligan hat, ukulele. He passed on the golf set.
"Will there be anything else?" asked the sales manager.
Jay shrugged. What else have you got?"
"Satellite radio? Propane gas hotplate?"
"Sure. Throw them in."
"Ultra-lightweight nanocoated raingear?"
"Ark of the Covenant?"
Jay raised an eyebrow and wiggled the black American Express at Adrienne inquisitively. She shrugged, wrinkled her nose, and shook her head. "We'll pass," said Jay. "What do you have in the way of typewriters?"
YOU ARE READING
Jay Versus the VolcanoShort Story
In which I cast my dear friend Jay Lake as the star in my version of "Joe Vs. the Volcano." Jay passed away from colon cancer on June 1--today (June 6th) would have been his 50th birthday. This story was written in the summer of 2008, after he was f...