Snakes and Pills

197 - reverie

The cashier behind the counter handed Marvin Miller his change with a smile. He smiled back. Marvin was naturally friendly, but he also felt like he knew this woman. His family ate breakfast at this restaurant every Sunday after church. He dealt with the same cashier each time. He assumed that she remembered them, but his family was so nondescript and unextraordinary that, even after several years, they blended into the crowd in the cashier's mind.

Marvin's smile grew larger as he turned around. He saw his wife, Maggie, with their two children, Tyler and Cathy. They were putting on their coats near the door. Maggie was the perfect wife to Marvin, she always made sure things were just as they should be.

"Ready to go?" Marvin asked as he slid on his hat. The question was unnecessary, but Maggie nodded her head in the affirmative, as she did every week. Tyler, ever the budding gentleman, held the door open for his family as they exited the restaurant.

The Millers piled into the family station wagon and strapped their seat belts into place. Marvin turned the engine on and let it warm up for a moment. During that time, he posed the question to his family that he always did after Sunday's breakfast: "So, what do we want to do today?"

After church and breakfast, Sunday was reserved as the family outing day. Knowing this, the family members would usually try and save up ideas for this moment. Tyler was the first to offer his suggestion. "Could we go for a walk on the pier and maybe do some fishing?" he asked.

Marvin and Maggie nodded, considering their son's idea. The children usually had first dibs on suggesting ideas for the weekly outing, but the parents always had the final say. "We could, but it might be a little chilly today," Marvin replied.

Cathy, sensing her opportunity, chimed in with her own idea: "I want to go to the centipede farm!"

When each sibling had differing ideas, the potential existed for conflict and disappointment. Fortunately on this particular Sunday, Tyler's eyes lit up upon hearing his little sister's idea. "Ooh! I want to go to the centipede farm, too!" he said with excitement.

"Can we go Dad, please?" Cathy begged from the backseat, knowing now her case was much stronger with a consensus.

"Well, I don't know," Marvin began, throwing Maggie a knowing wink. "What do you think, dear?"

"The children have been awfully good," Maggie answered. Cathy and Tyler were nearly bursting with anticipation, but they kept quiet, not wanting to do anything that might jeopardize their chances at this crucial moment.

"Hmm, well, all right," Marvin said in faux deliberation. "I suppose."

Both children burst out in cheers of excitement as their father began to back the car out of the restaurant parking lot, their destination now set. When they settled down, Marvin reminded them that there were no guarantees they that they would get to take anything home unless they behaved themselves.

Cathy and Tyler knew that he was serious, but they had no intentions of misbehaving. Every prior visit to the centipede farm had ended with each of them getting to pick their own centipede to bring home. They expected today to be no different.

Marvin pulled his car off the road under the sign with the big cartoon centipede and Mr. Zamperelli, the centipede farmer that owned the place. The dirt driveway to the entrance was a short one, but to the kids it felt like forever.

Both children had spent the ride over daydreaming about their future centipede, and as they bolted from the car, they knew it was time to make their dreams a reality.

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