Freed from all duties for ten days, the War Department and I took off for the vineyards of Sonoma. We prefer to drive, an announcement that shocks and dismays those who aren’t true Road Warriors.

We dislike flying, preferring to ride trains when I’m not behind the wheel, but we didn’t have the time for rail travel, so after packing two cases of MREs into the back of the Expedition, along with a cooler, portable bar, more hanging clothes than we could wear, and extra hiking shoes along with three suitcases, we headed out on Saturday afternoon.

Dang that’s a long sentence.

We were almost to Wichita Falls when she realized a tube of makeup was missing.

“I don’t know where it went. I had it a second ago.”

She checked her purse, her makeup bag the size of a backpack, the floorboard, the console and the cupholders.

“I can’t find it anywhere.”

“It has to be under your seat. We’ll find it when we stop for gas.”

Restricted by her seatbelt, she wriggled around like a toddler, searching

“It’s expensive.”

I sensed a fracture to be used at a later date.

“How expensive?”

“Don’t start thinking it’s the price of some outdoor doohickey you want.”

Sighing, I glanced over.

“Maybe it’s in the map pocket on your door.”

She peered down to her right.

“Why do they call it a map pocket? Maps are almost obsolete.”

I concentrated on the highway.

“Good question. How can you lose something right there?”

“I was wondering the same thing myself.” She folded in half to look into the floorboard.

“I bet you laid on the console.”

“Maybe.”

“Just wait until we stop. We can find it then.”

“But I want to know where it went.”

“Why?”

“Because it bothers me.”

“It couldn’t have gone far. Did you look under your leg? In your seat?”

She felt around, finding nothing.

“Have you seen my phone?”

“The one that was in your hand a few minutes ago?”

“Yep. I laid it on the console.”

I sighed again. I’ve told her and everyone else I know that nothing…nothing…will stay on top of the console. If it doesn’t slide off in transit, it’ll go shooting toward the dash or floor when I stop. But no matter how I explain it, whoever is in the front seat will invariably rest their phones, Ipads, notepads, papers, hats, coffee cups or dogs on the console.

Then they fall off.

“I bet it went between the seat and console, because it was lying where it could slide off.”

“My hand won’t fit down there. They should give a person some room.”

“They don’t expect you to put anything on the console.”

Now she was doubly agitated, wanting to find both the phone and the makeup. I couldn’t help myself.

“Maybe you’re sitting on it.”

“I just checked.”

“Try behind you, where the seat and back rest come together.”

She stuck her hand back there and came up with a Cheezit, a toy, two dried almonds and a clump of lint. Most of it came from grandkids.

Wriggling around, she tried to reach between the seat and console, but with no apparent success.

I tried again.

“Why don’t you wait until we stop for gas?”

“When will that be?”

I checked the gauge.

“In about four hours.”

“What if someone calls?”

“Then you’ll know exactly where your phone is, and I’d wager it’s beside the expensive makeup.” More wriggling. “What are you looking for now?”

“My magazine I wanted to read, but I can’t concentrate. Do you need to go to the bathroom?”

“You’re not worried about me. I see through your plan. Once we stop, you can find everything you lost.”

I got the Hairy Eyeball.

“Fine.”

I pulled into the next gas station we came to and she unearthed herself from a purse, a daypack, a stack of magazines, her scarf, her blanket, a pair of shoes and a bag of travel items.

“Good lord.” I opened the back door to see under her seat. “How can you sit in the middle of all that?”

“It’s not a problem. Do you see my mascara?”

“What does it look like?”

“A gold tube.”

I held it up.

“Like this?”

She snatched it from my hand.

“Where was it?”

“Right beside your phone, on the floor between your seat and the console, because everything you put on the console will slide off to that exact spot.” I handed her more. “Here’s a contact case, two plastic spoons, a spork, two straws, a handful of napkins, and two small toys.”

“I wondered where that case went.”

“Now you know.”

We pulled back onto the highway and seven seconds later she was wriggling around again.

“Now I can’t find my sunglasses. I had them when we stopped. I didn’t get out.” She looked at the ceiling. “Guaaaa!”

I waited for about a hundred miles before I told her they were on her head. It was a little victory, I know, but it really wasn’t worth the repercussions that came later.

Reavis Z. Wortham is an award-winning outdoor writer with family ties to Lamar County. He is the author of “Hawke’s Target.”

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