One More Ride: Chapter 3: Anniversary

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Norville drove down Mystery Lane and out onto state highway 10, past the orchards and further out of town, then hung the right on the recently paved Little Texas Road. It wasn’t named after the state, or the cheesy country band, but after one of Theodore Roosevelt’s horses. Fitting.

He pulled off the road alongside the cemetery fence behind a shiny, green Wrangler. He took a deep breath, blew it out, got out, locked and shut the door. Then unlocked the door, retrieved the package from the dash, locked the door again and shut it.

As he made his way among the tombstones he wondered who owned the Jeep, as there appeared to be no-one else in the cemetery. Caretaker? Someone out for a run in the country? He glanced around, trying to solve the mystery when a hooded person jumped out from behind a six foot granite monument.

“OOGA BOOGA BOOGA!” the attacker yelled.

But instead of dropping into a fighting stance, Norville dropped his package, clutched his heart, and stood there swaying. Looking ridiculous. His attacker doubled over giggling. He recognized the voice.

“What’d ya do that for?” he yelled, his voice cracking comically.

“Oh come on, Shaggy. It was funny!” said his attacker, sliding her hood back over her chocolate brown hair.

“I uh, I kinda I go by Norville now, Velma,” he replied, gently.

“Well I kinda go by Professor Dinkley now, Norville, but you’ll always be Shaggy to me. Come on. Let’s walk together.”

Norville couldn’t think of a time in his life since he had met Velma Dinkley 18 years ago that she didn’t make him flustered, at least a little bit. They had been so close to each other, and so close to a real relationship—twice, in fact—but it just never worked out. He walked in kind of a haze, mesmerized by her hair as it bounced with each step, listening to her chatter about… something. What was she talking about? It seemed like no matter much time had passed between them seeing one another that she was able to simply pick up right where they left off. And each time he wasn’t able to speak clearly, just like he was seeing her for the first time. Seeing her freckles, her trademark glasses that veiled her big, brown eyes.

“Shaggy?”

Norville snapped back to reality and realized they were at the grave, and had been for several seconds.He smiled weakly. He set the wrapped packaged of Scooby Snacks down on the ground in front of the stone. Velma slung off her backpack and produced a wrapped package as well and set it beside his. Her gift might have even been a little bigger than his. It was no surprise, really.

It had been 10 years since Scoob had passed away. The vets said he shouldn’t have lived as long as he had—17 years was a ridiculously long lifespan for a dog of that size. Chihuahuas, yes; living 20 years was no big deal for the annoying little Mexican rats. For Great Danes, seven years was considered a good long life. Norville still couldn’t see the justice in that. Scoob had lived as long as he did largely due to Norville’s willingness to spend any amount of money to take care of the closest friend he ever had—and probably ever would have. Besides, he had the money. Replacement hips? Done. Experimental radiation treatment? Done. When Scoob lost all of his fur, Norville shaved his own head. Scoob’s hair eventually came back in, thick as it was before; Norville’s came back in wavy, almost tangly. That was one of the reasons he kept it short now.

When Velma took his hand, Norville was jostled back to reality for the second time. He hoped she didn’t start reminiscing about Scoob. Every time anyone brought up fond memories of him it was like a kick in the heart, and the loss stained every good memory with anguish.

But she just stood there with him in silence. They stood for 20 minutes, each alone together. It began to mist, then to drizzle, but Norville was oblivious to it. Then the rain began in earnest, the cold rain of late October. Norville, his shirt now nearly soaked through, remembered his jacket on the back of the kitchen chair. He shivered visibly, almost the way they had drawn him on the old cartoon.

“Come on, Shaggy. Let’s get you warmed up.”

They headed back to the cars in silence, save for the chattering of Norville’s teeth.

He reached in his pocket to get his keys to unlock the car but found nothing. He looked through the window to see them sitting on the edge of his seat. He must have dropped them when he went back for the Scooby Snacks. Stupid keys.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, I just locked my keys in he car. I’ll just get my spare from under the back fender.”

“The ground is soaked, Shaggy, and so are you. Hop in the Jeep at least until he rain dies down.”

He looked first at her, then at the small lake that appeared to be isolated to the ground under his car. He trudged to the shiny, green Wrangler and climbed inside.

Chapter 4

 

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