It's early morning, and the first light is just hitting the clear blue sky. The temperature has remained well above normal, giving the feeling of permanent spring. Chris and Rob have arrived with Nate, Mike and Sally. Though I hadn't expected him, Cliff had come too. He sat behind the wheel as the headlights flashed through the front window of the cafe. It is good to finally see him again. He has spent the winter out of the country and returned just in time for the journey. Cliff's presence, like Plakke's, makes the trip feel like the right thing too do.

We had spent a long night in the diner, having arrived sooner than we had planned. We sat eating soggy toast and weak, diner coffee and water from the tap. Between Ryan, Bates, and I we managed to fill Plakke in on most of the details and he read over the news clipping we brought along. We talked a bit about Jhasen, the good times and all that, and joked about the whole shooting incident, which may seem pretty crude laughing about a friends recent death. But I didn't feel the least bit bad about it, still don't, and I don't think it would bother Jhasen much either if he knew how much better it made us feel to be able to smile a bit. We sat that way, with sporadic conversation sprinkled across the greasy late night diner silence until those headlights flashed through the front window of the diner with Cliff behind the wheel.

It was a funny place for a reunion, and funny circumstances too (both peculiar and strangely comical). But all words were warm and I could tell that every one was as happy as I was myself that we had all made it and that we were all going along. I didn't have a whole lot to say, with too much on my mind and too many unanswered questions (why have you all come?), but Rob and Chris and Cliff all hugged me in their monster grips, telling me it's all going to work out fine and what a road trip it's gonna be. I don't believe them. I've been on a few road trips and none of them ever felt anything like this. But it was good to hear all the same.

Well it didn't take long to realize that we'd never fit our whole motley crew into that one van, and ended up sending Ryan and Bates and Sally back to pick the caddy up from where ever they dumped it. Jeff had said that we'd be better off all riding in one vehicle if possible and not to worry about the car, he'd take care of it. And I thought that was just fine as I wanted as little to do with that car and any secrets it was holding as possible. There's too many funny things going on already, and the last thing we need is to add complications that aren't necessary. But it turns out that this one is.

So now I'm sitting back in the passenger seat of this late 70's model Cadillac and the first light is just starting to light up the clear blue sky and it feels too much like spring. Ryan is behind the wheel and Plakke has replaced Bates in the back seat. It should feel good to be back with just the three of us, like the old days before life got so complicated and things like this would never have come up. But I don't like being the one to ride in this car, smuggling all it's secrets along with Jhasen. And Bates got off scott free riding in that van where the warmth of friendship can kind of cover up the ugliness of our mission. I'm not really pissed at Bates or anything, I just wish I could ride in that van with lots of people to help cover up a few of these ugly secrets we're hauling and put my mind at ease for a bit.

But this is only the first leg and in a few hours I can climb out of this problem seat and into another one. For now we are headed west down the highway, two big white vehicles like some ghostly convoy, with the dead pointing the way.

-the gilded frame-
--Letters from a Savior; Offer for a few--


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