T he MiniCel/Lewis and Dane story wasn’t in the next day’s paper either. But Miles didn’t even read the paper. He spent the entire morning glancing from the date on the newspaper to the date on his calendar on the wall.
April 13, 2011, read the calendar, the 13 placed neatly in a small square in the column marked Saturday at the end of the row, snugly embraced by the square with the 12.
April 14, 2011, read the newspaper neatly in italics underneath the large banner reading Lawles County Tribune. The word resting just over the word “April” said Sunday.
The paper was three times thicker than the paper he usually got on Saturday mornings.
This is impossible, he thought, but his thoughts raced too wildly to pin down. He stared for what seemed like hours at the words, which unless sanity played tricks on him, grew larger by the moment.
Sunday, April 14, 2011.
At ten o’clock that Saturday morning, Miles opened the paper and began to read. He never left the table. He did not read Sports on the toilet, nor did he read the Front Page or the Metro as he buttoned his shirt. He didn’t make coffee, nor did he move from his seat. He read the entire Sunday/Saturday paper in his boxer shorts, and smoked three-quarters of a pack of his cigarettes. He didn’t miss a word. He even found himself reading the Comics and the advertisements that boasted a Remarkable Sale!!! at Richland Mall, Stereos Going Fast at U-Rent It U-Buy It, and No Monthly Payments at Kenny Kooper’s Chevrolet in Whitfill.
It was all there before him in black and white. It was in the newspaper, so it had to be true.
He quickly stood, picked up the phone and dialed Stan who answered on the third ring.
“Hullo,” a groggy voice mumbled into the phone.
“Stan,” Miles said slowly. “It’s me, Miles.”
“Miles,” Stan said quickly. Stan was suddenly awake and more alert. “Hey, buddy. I saw it on the news last night. You were right, man. Holy shit, you were right. Lewis and Dane is gone.”
“I know, Stan,” he said dazedly. “Stan…”
“How did you know,” Stan asked. “It didn’t happen until very late last night. The newsman interrupted the Sports to announce it, Miles. How did you know?”
“Stan…” Miles began, but he stopped. He’ll think I’m crazy, Miles thought. He’ll think I’m nuts. He almost hung up, but another thought struck him.
It’s all right here in black and white. He just has to look at it. That’s all. It’s all right here in black and white.
“Are you there?” Stan asked. “Miles?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” Miles said, snapping back to the atmosphere. “Hey, um… I got an inside man,” he said carefully. “He told me it was going to happen. I already knew.”
Miles’ stomach felt like it would explode. He checked the date on the paper again, half expecting it to lie, but it stared at him, saying in italics: Sunday, April 14, 2011. Miles felt his stomach growing uneasy.
“What’s the date?” Miles asked. He knew what Stan would say, though.
“The thirteenth. It’s Saturday,” he replied. “You okay, buddy?”
“Yeah,” Miles lied. And what a lie it is, Miles old buddy, old pal. “Yeah, I’m just fine. I just hit the bar pretty hard last night and feel like I slept for a week.”
Stan laughed heartily. “I know how that is, my man. I’ve had quite a few mornings like that myself. But you know how I solve the mystery? I always look at the morning paper. The date’s right there in black and white. Gives it away every time.”
Miles was sure Stan said something else, but he didn’t hear it. Miles doubled over and began to vomit.
Miles spent the day in his car. He decided he wanted to be nowhere near the paper, or where he could think about the paper. He decided he would simply drive the countryside with the radio turned up very loud so that he could not start to think. But he couldn’t help it. His mind raced.
What can I do? Huh, buddy? You’ve seen it, you’ve seen it three times now. If you’re not careful, someone else will know you’ve seen it, and that’s…
He slowed the car and parked on the shoulder of the highway. He twisted the knob on the volume control until the radio fell silent with a plastic click, and the only sound that could be heard was the rhythm of the hazard lights.
Of course they’d take the paper away from me, but what’s wrong with that?
Miles lit a cigarette and ran his hand through his tufts of dark hair.
Because then I wouldn’t have it, that’s what’s wrong. And I should have it. Maybe I’ve been kidding myself. Maybe there is good to this. How many times have I wished I could tell the future? All I’ve got to do, buddy old pal, is find the advantages to this thing.
And abruptly, as if on cue, an idea struck Miles Del Riccio with such violent force, his facial expression convulsed into immediate surprise. He thrust the transmission into drive and whipped onto the freeway, hazard lights still aglow.
Miles arrived at his house, squealing to a stop, in less than fifteen minutes. The hazards blinked as he ran out of his car and up the walk to his house, barely glancing at the spot where he usually finds the paper. His keys jingled gingerly as he shook them out of his pocket, slipped them into the lock and threw open the door.
The paper still waited for him at the table. Miles grabbed it and rifled past the unwanted sections, throwing them aside until he found the one that said SPORTS at the top of the first page. The others fell to the floor. Miles tore corners and ripped edges of the paper as he frantically lunged further into the section.
“Where is it?” he cried in a joyous madness. His smile was reminiscent of a small child, ripping through wrappings of a Christmas present. Miles turned the last page and he erupted in happiness as he saw what he was looking for.
The top of the paper read: SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK RESULTS.
And just for safekeeping, Miles read the top corner of the paper which read, Sunday, April 14, 2011. A quick look at the calendar confirmed it was indeed the 13th. Saturday.
“Holy shit!” Miles shouted jubilantly.
Later, Miles sat glued to the television in his front room. Pizza boxes scattered across the floor next to an occasional beer can. Miles sat on the floor, propping his back against the sofa and his eyes never left the television.
He watched the races in Houston.
After each race, Miles would check the winner from the TV with the newspaper. Of course, Leisure Kite won in the first, Baby Box Top in the second, Lady of the Fox placed in the third, and his eyes twinkled as he watched Chute Boss edge out Coming Fast in the fifth.
Just as the paper had said it would.
Miles shook his head with wonder
Monday morning, Miles called into work sick. He told his boss, Willie Freeman, that he had caught a nasty flu bug, and would probably be out for the day. Willie didn’t seem to mind; Miles never called into work late or sick. Never.
Of course, Miles’ paper that morning boasted the words Tuesday, April 16, 2011 underneath the Lawles County Tribune banner. This morning, he finally accepted it probably would.
But this is going to stop one day, won’t it? This can’t go on forever, huh, buddy? So while it’s happening, you might as well take advantage of it, right? Yes, yes you should.
Miles loaded the trunk of his car with a cooler of soft drinks, filled his tank and headed South on the freeway to Houston. He had spent all of Sunday making his plans.
He would spend the day at the races.