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  • "Well, if I'd found him out there, I would have jumped up and down and waved my arms and yelled and screamed." - Bill Huey

    I'm lying awake in a motel room somewhere in southern Ohio with Bill Huey's voice ringing in my ears. Drew is in the bed next to mine. Fuck is probably the last word one of us has said.

    In the morning the motel room phone will ring and Aaron will be on the other end and the universe will start to repair itself -- but not yet.

    It was a promise. It was a plan. It was an elaborate joke. Most importantly, it was a promise, a promise made between two friends, a promise to follow through on something. To take one of our thousands of silly, brilliant, drunken ideas and actually do it.

    Because Huey had done it. Huey was doing it. Huey had stood in our shitty kitchen in our shitty basement apartment the year before and declared that he was going to Walk. Across. America. And now, of course, he was.

    "We should go find him."

    "Yeah, but it has to be a total surprise."

    "What if he's coming down the road and somehow we're just sitting there, like, running a lemonade stand..."

    Done. Pact. Blood Oath. Done. This Will Happen.

    It is happening. A few days off work cobbled together, a vague target in Ohio to aim for, scrap lumber lemonade stand in the back of the car…spit out the end of the Holland tunnel across Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and suddenly following the road we think Huey and Cosmo might be walking down.

    Somehow, almost too easily, we find them. We pull into a little town, we drive down the main street, and there -- Holy Crap! -- is the dog cart, parked outside a restaurant. Drew is literally ducking beneath the dashboard, which is hilarious now, but seemed perfectly reasonable then.

    We set up shop. We’ve completely underestimated just how creepy two twenty-something dudes will look running a lemonade stand on the edge of a little Ohio farm town, but no matter. This is awesome.

    We wait. I don’t think we sell any lemonade. I shuttle back and forth from stand to stakeout but Huey isn’t moving. The urge to just walk into the damn restaurant and surprise him there grows, but we resist. We wait all day.

    And then, it’s on.

    I’m racing down side streets in the Subaru to get back to the stand before Huey and Cosmo get there via the main road. Car safely parked, Drew and I take our positions, pulses pounding. We are the giddiest roadside lemonade vendors in the state of Ohio.

    “Is he definitely coming.”

    “Yeah, I saw him leave the restaurant, they have to be walking this way.”

    “There he is. Shit, he’s on the other side of the road.”

    “Remain calm.”

    “Wait. No. Where’s he going?”

    Not only are Huey and Cosmo walking down the other side of the road, far enough away that they might miss us, or we would at least have to call out to them, but now they are taking a detour into the strange little county fair type thing we’ve been staring at all day. We’ve been sabotaged! Why did we set up across from the stupid fair?

    Before we can really think what to do next, man and dog pop back onto the road several hundred feet beyond us. They’ve blown through the fair and are quickly moving past the edge of town and out onto genuine two-lane rural American highway.


    O.k. Take two. The lemonade stand is back in the car, we’re driving past Huey and Cosmo, we’re setting the stand up again, now at the intersection of the two-lane and some smaller country road. This is kind of great, it’s even more ridiculous than before. Problem solved. Deep breath.

    They have to keep coming down this road, there are no other options. We drove maybe one mile, tops. They’ll be here before we know it.

    Except they never show up.

    Driving down the road to check turns into further and longer searches, turns into breaking down the stand and carefully checking every possible detour, of which there are almost none.

    They are gone. Kidnapped by aliens gone. Vanished. Head scratching, steering wheel pounding, what-the-hell-do-we-do-now saying gone.

    Aaron has no cellphone, an admirable choice, but damn frustrating at the moment. We call Aaron’s dad Bill, who we know he checks in with every other day or so, and who updates Aaron’s website with fresh photos and journal entries mailed in from the road. This is how we had some idea of where to look for the disappearing bastard.

    Bill is kind, but speaks to us like the idiots that we are. I give him my number and he promises he will have Aaron call us if he hears from him. We say goodbye and the feeling really starts to set in.

    We are idiots. We are the biggest fucking idiots we have ever met.
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