"Whoa, I'll open the trunk for you." Beau said when he saw the massive heavy camping monster attached to Dan's back.
With everything loaded into the car, Beau fired up the engine in his old Buick and after a heartfelt goodbye and a 'have fun' from Dan's parents, Beau headed for the highway.
"You sure this old beater wagon's going to make it?" Dan asked.
"You mean my baby." Beau said as he touched the dashboard.
"You are so weird, it's just a car."
"Oh no Dan, this is not just a car, it's a ranch where I keep my 300 horses." Beau said as he floored it in the merge lane on the Trans-Canada highway. "Damn this is my favourite part." Beau shouted over the roar of the engine.
"Damn thing has no muffler." Dan shouted back.
"It rusted off a few years back, I don't need it anyway, now when I rev the engine people nearby think the world is ending." Beau grinned.
"Now your just speeding." Dan shouted.
"Am I? I wouldn't want to kill you before you take a stab at finding true love." Beau said as he slowed up. "Anyway, if it breaks down we could probably survive at least a year on all the stuff in your backpack."
"How am I going to carry it all the way?" Dan sighed.
"You having second thoughts?"
"Why does everyone keep asking me that?"
"I don't know, this is just kinda out of character for you."
"I guess I'm just determined." Dan said resolutely.
"Ah yes, $1500, a little hardship and allacazam! Mrs. right."
"This reminds me of a song." Beau said grinning as he pushed in a tape. Suddenly the Beatles 'can't buy me love' was blaring out of the stereo. Dan rolled his eyes.
"Shut that off, that's not funny." He said grinning.
"Okay okay, but it's a good song, hey you wanna stop off at McDonald's for something to eat quick before we're out of town?"
Beau stopped the car and Dan took advantage of the bathroom while Beau got the food. After eating they got back into the merge lane.
"Oh baby this is my favourite part." Beau said excitedly then cleared his throat and in his best Jon Luc Picard voice shouted, "Engage." And floored it. "Oh yeah! Feel those horses, the car may be old but the horses are young, and have new sparkplugs." Beau shouted over the roar of the mufflerless V8.
"You are such a loser."
"What? Cus I like Star Trek, the Beatles, and I drive a rusty 1984 Buick with enough mileage to have gone around the earth at the equator like 4 times?"
"Ya think." Dan said sarcastically.
"Okay okay, you're right I'm the biggest geek alive and I'm damn proud of it."
An hour passed and it was starting to get really hot in the car. Dan tried to turn on the air but nothing seemed to work.
"Here let me turn on the air conditioning for you." Beau said as he rolled down his window. Dan rolled his eyes.
"You're just jealous cus you don't have a car." Beau said.
In Banff, Beau turned off the highway and drove a short distance up to lake Miniwanka to stretch and look at the turquoise water.
"I love this lake." Beau sighed.
"You realize that the short distance we just drove would take you like 24 hours to walk right?"
"Would it really?"
"Oh yeah, I figured it in my head as we were driving."
"I'm still determined."
"And you should be. After all of this she better be extreeeeeeeeemly hot, I mean like fanfuckingtastic."
"I hope so."
Beau drove on and the boys had lunch in the town of Golden.
"My gas guzzling baby needs a little lunch as well." Beau said as he pulled into the gas station.
"I'll pay." Dan said.
"No way, you've got to pay for true love remember."
"Yeah, but I'll have some money left over after that."
"Nope, no way. You might need that money along the way."
"But how can I pay you back, you're driving me and paying for gas, the least I could do is pay for the gas."
"No way, I needed a reason to take my car out on the highway in the first place, and I enjoy the adventure."
"I'll still have to find a way to pay you back."
In Revelstoke the boys had an early supper at 4:30.
"You know Dan, if I had 1500 dollars I'd go with you."
"And not cus I need the presto-instagirlfriend but because...well, I just wanna make sure you're okay."
Dan smiled, this is what he liked about Beau; he cared. "I know, thank you Beau but I'll be fine, this is something I need to do alone."
The boys were back on the highway by 5:45. They arrived at Salmon Arm by 8:00 and Beau turned off the highway and started driving around town.
"What are you doing?" Dan asked.
"Looking for a cheap motel to spend the night."
"What? No! We leave Vancouver at noon tomorrow."
"What? You didn't tell me that."
"I didn't know it was this far." Dan confessed.
Beau sighed, "alright, climb into the back seat and try to get some sleep, when we get to Kamloops you're driving."
"But I only have my learners, I hardly drive."
"You'll be fine, it's that or I'll fall asleep at the wheel at 2:00 in the morning and kill us all."
Dan sighed, "Alright."
Dan felt cramped in the backseat as he tried to sleep, the roar of the engine and the vibrations of the road frustrated him to the extent that he couldn't sleep. But after a while he started to feel drowsy and before he knew it he was jarred awake by a car door shutting then another one quickly opening.
"Okay dude, it's 11:30, I'm tired and we're just outside of Kamloops on the Coquihalla (coke-a-halla) highway."
"Wow." Dan moaned while rubbing his eyes as a semi with it's bright headlights roared by.
"How tired are you to make up a name like that?" Dan asked.
"Make up what name?"
"That's its name, for real." Beau said. "You gonna be okay to drive, we could just sleep in the ditch here then leave latter, that might be safer."
"No, I'm okay, I just woke up that's all." Dan said as he got out and stretched.
"Now, how do I do this?" Dan asked as he climbed in behind the wheel.
"Push the gas to go and the brake to stop." Beau moaned sleepily from the back seat.
"I know that, I mean like is there anything special I need to know, you know, special instructions."
"Watch your speed, stay on the road, keep the window open a crack so you get fresh air and don't feel sleepy. If you do feel tired then pull over immediately to the shoulder, drive off the road a bit, shut off the engine, and go to sleep. That's important, there's nothing more important then our safety, so keep alert and if you can't, then be responsible enough to pull over." Beau said, reciting what his driver instructor had told him. "Oh and wake me when we're outside of Hope."
"Like beyond hope?"
"No just before it."
"Hope's a town at the end of this highway." Beau said with a bit of humour in his voice.
"Oh. Okay, well goodnight Beau."
"Will do Mr. Watson." Dan grinned.
"I'm not an old man yet, you can call me by my first name."
"I know, it's just fun, I know how much it pisses you off."
It wasn't long before Dan had the hang of driving on the highway and his mind began to wander. He glanced down at the speedometer and saw the odometer slowly counting the miles. Each mile brought Dan closer to 'Mrs. Right" as Beau called her.
It was hard to believe that Dan, with his sandy brown hair, dancing blue eyes and big smile, was really very sad and lonely inside. The feeling had been building in him for 2 years, the most savage aching empty feeling imaginable. Nothing could satisfy it. Dan had gone through girlfriends like tissue. Some were nice girls, but not one of them was the right one. That is, none of them filled the painful need in Dan's heart. The trip, as far as Dan was concerned was his last desperate chance to find her and nothing was going to stop him.
Dan thought about his determination for a few minutes, he squeezed the wheel hard and gritted his teeth while promising himself that he'd not give up. Then in the middle of steeling himself he suddenly became aware that he was driving 150 km/h and quickly slowed to the speed limit of 110.
Just outside Hope, as per his orders, Dan called to Beau who was still asleep in the back seat.
"Hey sleepy head. Wake up Beau." But Beau was fast asleep. Dan pulled over and started flipping through the glove box until he found a map. Eventually he found himself, chose a route and continued on.
"Oh, what the hell?" Beau groaned from the back seat. He'd just woken up from the most pleasant dream where he and Kate Robins had been naked in his room all alone and he...."
"Vancouver." Dan called to him.
"What? You drove all night?"
"I tried to wake you up several times but you just slept right thought it all."
"What time is it?"
"Hang on." Dan said as he rolled down his window. "Three, no make it four bacon and egg McMuffins, and two medium coffees." Dan said out the window.
"Breakfast will be ready soon, it's 8:00 by the way." Dan said to his confused passenger.
"You should have slept some more." Beau said.
"Oh well, I've got plenty of time for that under the stars tonight."
"If you say so."
Dan and Beau ate their breakfast in the parking lot.
"We still have some time, you got all your supplies?"
"Well perhaps we should drive down there then, I've never driven this city and I have no idea where to go."
"We're supposed to meet in Stanley Park."
"I think every city and most towns have a Stanley park." Beau said.
"Well where do you think this Stanley Park is?"
"I don't know, I'll check the map but the thing is, I'd kinda like to drive my own car again."
Beau navigated his way down to Stanley park, he was distracted a few times by things he saw along the way, like the Lion's Gate bridge and some absolutely huge trees in the park. Eventually he found the meeting place in a field in the park. Some tents had been put up in the grassy expanse and kids all about Dan's age were walking around with backpacks.
"You know, it just occurred to me now that all along I would have expected almost all of these people to be around our age but then I just realized why should that be so; this program is open to people of all ages." Beau said.
"Yeah." Dan frowned; he had been considering the same thing.
"Yes I'm sure."
"No it's not that. I just wanted to tell you that I hope you find what you're looking for but please do one thing for me."
"Take my cell phone, if there's an emergency, use it. Call me; I'll pick you up anytime and anywhere. I won't be angry at all."
Dan sighed and smiled. Beau and Dan had been close friends since they met in grade one. One time Beau told his parents, "I tell Dan things I wouldn't even tell my therapist." When Dan found out he was touched.
"Thanks, I promise I'll use it if I have to."
"Okay, well you're still early, it's only 9:45 but go on I guess, it's time you start your thousand mile journey for wonder girl."
"You just wait, she'll be fricken awesome." Dan grinned as he got out of the car and grabbed his bag from the trunk. "This is crazy." He sighed as he heaved his bag out.
"Don't worry about it, I enjoyed the drive."
"Okay, see you soon."
"Yep, see you soon Dan."
Dan started walking toward the nearest tent with his heavy bag on his back. Fear and excitement were waging war in his belly and in his heart. As he walked he made a conscious effort to not let it show.
Beau sat in his car and watched as his best friend walked away to embark on the strangest, bravest journey of his life.
When Dan disappeared into the tent Beau started the car and drove out of the lot. He pushed in a new tape and 'Take it Easy' boomed out of the speakers as he drove.
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