Curly tried to get me to tell him the plan, but I wouldn’t.
Three minutes later, I saw Adelle’s car.
It was painted the color of arterial blood you might see in a bad detective movie.
We waved to each other, and I gave them the thumbs up.
I drove for a few minutes, and after I was sure she wasn’t looking to make sure we were still following, I let another car get between us. Fortunately, it was the same color as our rented van.
I drove for another minute, and then I pulled over.
I was worried Sammy might wake up and make a fuss about what I was going to do, but he didn’t stir, so I got out, opened the back, and checked he was still breathing.
Back in the driver’s seat, I used Adelle’s phone to call 911.
When the call was answered, I said, “There’s a red car driving erratically. I can see a woman and two children inside, and I’m terrified they’re going to crash.”
“Where are you?”
I acted panicked and then eventually told him where we were, gave Adelle’s license number, and said which direciton we were heading.
I thanked him, ended the call, reset Adelle’s phone and wiped it off, hoping to obliterate any fingerprints Sammy or I might have left. I wrapped it in a napkin and put it in my purse.
Back at the hotel, I looked around, saw that the only other person there was a man at the front desk who appeared to be asleep, let Adelle’s phone slip out of the napkin and onto a chair, and then Curly and I helped Sammy up to our room.
“Curly and Freckles, would you mind sleeping in our room and Sammy, Lydia, and I will be in yours? I need to be near him.”
“Sure,” Curly said. “Lydia, is that okay? You can have my bed if I can use yours.”
How had this nice young man gotten a MAGA shirt? I’d have to ask him, but not until we were out of LA.
Sammy and the other kids slept until seven, but I made sure I got up every hour to check on him.
During one of those checks, I also looked through my purse. Sure enough, the pack of cigarettes Louisa had left with me was gone. That meant only one thing: Sammy had gone into my purse and had taken them. He must also have looked at my phone at some point.
Besides adding a passcode to my phone, what was I going to do?
I sat at the desk and thought about it, and decided to wait until we were out of LA before I asked him any questions.
At seven, I woke Curly and Freckles, and then I woke Lydia and went to wake Sammy.
“Sammy?” I said in a normal voice.
He didn’t move.
“Sammy!” I said louder.
“Sammy!” I said, and shook him lightly.
“It’s seven o’clock. Time to get up.”
“It’s time to get up.”
“Seven? At night?”
“No. Seven in the morning. Our plane leaves at ten, and we need to pack up, have breakfast, and go to the airport.”
“I don’t want breakfast. I’ll stay here.”
“You have to eat.”
“I’m hungry!” Frekcles called.
“Shut up,” Sammy said.
“Sammy, that’s enough. Please get dressed.”
Sammy dragged his feet and complained whenever anybody talked above a barely audible whisper, but eventually we packed the van and found a restaurant that advertized all kinds of breakfast food.
We all sat down and flipped through our menus, except for Sammy, who just sat.
“Grandma?” Freckles said, “what’s Eggs Benedict?”
“I can’t remember. Should we try it?”
“Yeah,” Curly said.
“Lydia, would you like to try some?”
“And so do I. How about you, Sammy?”
“I already said I’m not hungry.”
“I think you’ll feel better when you eat. How about some toast and jam?”
He refused to eat, demanded Coke, and finally drank some orange juice.
Without incident, we got to the airport, found our gate, and boarded the plane.
Everything went well until we landed, apart from Sammy telling us all to be quiet and demanding Tylenol, which I didn’t have, and frankly wouldn’t hhve given to him, not even if I’d had a thousand of the blasted things.