Armed with an atlas and an invitation, Kelly Mullen read the map like a lost pilot. She flipped through the atlas, trying to find page 46 before her husband missed the exit to the party.
“Should be after page 45,” Ronnie said, resting his hand on her knee.
“Ha ha. Someone tore it out or ate it. And keep your hands on the road, Mister.”
“Don’t look at me. I wouldn’t eat New York State. Maybe Texas, but not New York. And my hand likes it here.”
Kelly lifted his hand to the steering wheel. “How do you do it?”
Ronnie batted his long lashes. “Do what?”
“Stay calm when we’ve been driving around in circles for hours.”
“We’re only going to a party, and we don’t even know whose party it is. I don’t care if we get there at all.”
Kelly looked at the invitation again.
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mullen,
You are invited to my banquet. Please join me at Castle on the Rock on June 12th at 7:00.
Kelly admitted it was strange, but didn’t want to miss the opportunity to dine in a castle or tell Sheila, her perfect sister who pastored a church, about her night in royalty.
Kelly traced the blue veins to the smaller red capillaries on the map. “Turn right at the next exit. I’m sure that’s it.”
Ronnie veered their jeep toward the exit lined with signs to all the nearest pit stops. They passed stores and restaurants galore; they drove five miles of neon lit streets before he gave Kelly the “Now what?” look.
“Okay, this is obviously not the way, but we might as well stop and grab some food.”
Ronnie parked the car at the All You Can Eat China Buffet. They spent the next thirty minutes eating more than they could eat.
Kelly swallowed the last morsel. “This sweet and sour chicken was divine.”
Ronnie slurped his last noodle. “The lo mein was heavenly. We gotta come here again.”
Finally they trudged back to the car holding their stomachs and groaning.
“I wish we didn’t stop; I’m stuffed,” said Kelly. “Let’s get back on the road.” She click-clacked her high heels waiting for Ronnie to open her door.
When Ronnie sat down, the steering wheel squeezed against his belly which was now inflated like a helium balloon in a tux. “Are you sure you know how to read maps? It’s not like reading a novel. You need a sense of direction.”
“Okay, Mr. Map Reader, you read, I’ll drive. But I doubt you’ll do better. Remember when you drove us to Sheila’s wedding rehearsal? A one hour drive turned into a three hour sight seeing adventure on back roads. And we missed out on lobster.”
“Remember who gave me directions?”
“Yah, but if you read a map, you’d have known I gave the wrong street.”
Kelly pulled out onto I-95, cutting off an SUV that honked an angry horn.
Ronnie unfolded a wrinkled map he found in the glove compartment. “Maybe this will help.” He wasn’t batting lashes anymore. They drove in silence for ten minutes until Ronnie pointed. “Bear left.”
“I hope you’re right.”
The road dipped and winded like the Thunder coaster at Adventureland. It led them straight to a casino.
Ronnie’s eyes lit up. “Wow. Who knew this was here! Let’s go inside.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. We’re already late.”
“Just for ten minutes.”
After thirty minutes of losing at slot machines and blackjack, they plodded back to the jeep with two hundred dollars less in their wallets.
Kelly dropped the keys in Ronnie’s hands. “My turn to read the map.” As Ronnie reversed the jeep, Kelly traced her finger along I-95. Then she took out a pen, scribbled across the map, and tossed it in the back seat. “I give up. There must be a phone number on the card.”
She turned the invitation over to discover a mini map on the back and directions:
Stay straight on 95.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30: 21
…in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
They looked at each other with light bulbs shining. “Sheila!”
At the end of I-95 sat a new white church. Sheila stood smiling next to a sign reading: Castle on the Rock.
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