Al pulled ahead to the spot Jonesy had pointed at, and eased the ambulance into place. Then he leaned across the passenger seat, and adjusted the outside mirror so he could watch Jonesy talk to the valet.
He wondered if it would be all right to turn the radio back on.
Jonesy was through with the valet. He walked toward the house and talked to a woman who stood just outside the front door.
It was way past lunch time. Al was curious whether Jonesy realized that the burgers and fries had fallen off the hood when they pulled out to chase that bus. He couldn't be sure.
Jonesy was not always so good at noticing things.
He decided he could turn the radio on, if he kept it real low. He turned the knob slowly until it clicked. Then he looked in the mirror, and turned it off again.
Jonesy ran toward the ambulance.
"Al!" he shouted, "call for backup! We're going in!"
That was okay with Al.
Maybe they'd get some food.
* * * * *
"But if Charlie had understood," I told Julie, "If Charlie had known what a mistake it was for me to follow his dream, he wouldn't have wanted me to, because all the time I was trying to live his dream, my own dream was locked up inside of me, suffocating, until I was willing to do anything to make it real. Anything.
"My dream, finally, was to be free of Charlie's dream—to go home. The more I pushed it down, the stronger it got, until it couldn't stay down anymore."
I noticed Ann. She watched Julie closely, with a strange look on her face.
I kept on.
"And the pressure just kept building, Julie. It got so I felt if I couldn't break free—if I couldn't go back—then someone had to. I decided that someone was you.
Julie's eyes were clear, but her lower lip trembled a little.
"If I couldn't escape Charlie's plans for me, I'd break you free of your mother's plans for you. If I couldn't go home, go back to being a… then maybe you could…"
I sensed something moving behind me. I turned a little, and caught a glimpse of Jonesy and Al, reflected in the windows of the house. They were closing in on me.
But that didn't matter any more. All that mattered was Julie. I had so little time to undo all the damage I had done.
"…maybe you could go home for me," I said.
"But I was wrong, Julie. I was just as wrong as Charlie had been about me. You'd have ended up like I did, missing out on your own life, and then forcing it on someone else…"
Al and Jonesy were sneaking up behind me, working their way through the crowd. There wasn't any time left.
"I can't tell you what to do now, Julie. I wouldn't dare. I just came to tell you that I'm not living Charlie's dream anymore. I'm going to live my own, or try to, anyway."
I turned my attention to the catatonic guests.
"That's all I came to say." I told them, "You've been very patient, and I want to thank you for that."
Did you ever see a bunch of fish lined up, staring out through the glass wall of an aquarium ?