For the next twenty minutes they drove without speaking. The music, however, continued to test the limits of the cab’s sound system.

MC Frontalot attended a stoop sale, Mikal kHill felt pretty alright lately, and Beefy was all grown up as Don navigated along the dark and unfamiliar highways of North Carolina.

As he drove, as the music pumped and vibrated through him, a feeling of déjà vu settled into Don. He’d never been to North Carolina before, but as the road ahead disappeared under the truck’s hood, he began to feel as if all places that were new to him were also familiar. Like after a month away from home, a month separated from the same old routine, there was something comforting about traveling along another unfamiliar stretch of road toward another strange town. Don couldn’t explain it, but the unexpected had become the expected, and Don was cool to just let it ride.

Kirby Krackle wanted to see that booty do math as they pulled into Winston-Salem. It was nearing a quarter to one in the morning and the streets were empty. It was eerie, but that too gave Don comfort. It reminded him of his childhood, growing up in Eudora, Kansas back when everyone in town was in for the night before Carson. That’s Johnny, not Daly.

“The hotel should be that way,” Gene shouted over the music, pointing off to the left. Don ignored the turn.

“Let’s find GCS first, then we can see what this town has to offer.”

“Come on, dude. I’m tired.” It wasn’t quite a pouty fit, but it would give it a run for its money.

“I’m tired too, but I’m also thirsty. I just need a soda, and I’d like to get an idea of where everything is so that we aren’t scrambling around in the morning.”

“Yeah, which is just four hours off,” said Gene.

“I’ll sleep better knowing how to find GCS.”

The company that Don and Gene worked for was GCS, or Global Computer Systems. They were, in essence, a call center that contracted themselves out to be the help line for other companies and government agencies.

“I’ll sleep better when I get to sleep before One in the AM,” said Gene.

“Come on,” Don said, then smiled. “You know you want a couple of those little powered donuts before you go to sleep.”

“Well,” said Gene and frowned.

“And an ice cold milk to wash it down. Vitamin D.”

Gene sighed, but Don could see it was all an act. His friend had a twinkle in his eye that screamed for his before-bed milk.

“Onward, Captain,” said Gene.

They found GCS right away, a large one-story rectangular lump sitting in the middle of a sprawling business park. It’s only distinguishing characteristic that made it stand out apart from the other large one-story rectangular lumps was the small and tasteful sign denoting the building as being GCS.

“Okay,” said Gene. “We found it. Now milk and bed.”

“Deal,” Don said.

Then, pulling slowly from the lot, they were almost hit by an ambulance that raced past, its lights blinding them in their brilliance.

Gene, his mouth hanging open leaned forward and turned the music down.

“Maybe we don’t play the music so loud,” Gene said.

“Agreed,” said Don, and pulled out of the lot.

To be continued . . .

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