I woke up a little before 7AM. The clock said Wednesday just like I thought it would. Sam was still asleep and I was hoping it wasn't still Tuesday in Sammy-land. He really worried me yesterday; aside from all the weird time loop stuff, I couldn't get out of him if in all his Tuesdays Sam had eaten or slept or even taken a shower.
So I moved around quiet, getting dressed, getting packed up. Sammy could wake up with the alarm. Just let him wake up in Wednesday.
I was brushing my teeth when the alarm went off and Sammy shot up off his pillows.
"You gonna sleep all day?" I asked him. I didn't want him to know that I was worried. It didn't surprise me when the first thing he did was look at the clock.
"It's Wednesday." He said it like he couldn't believe it.
"Yeah, it comes after Tuesday. Turn that thing off." Thank God thank God thank God – Sam was in Wednesday too. I expected him to be relieved, even more relieved than I was, but I wasn't expecting him to jump out of bed and grab me in a bone crushing hug. He was shaking. Poor kid must've gone through hell.
"Dude, how many Tuesdays did you go through?" I asked him.
I started wondering when he was going to let go. I guess he earned it though. And I am an awesome brother, who wouldn't want to hug me? Finally though he let go. But it was just to ask me a question.
"Wait - what do you remember?"
"I remember you were pretty whacked out of it yesterday." That's gotta win points for understatement of the year. "Then I remember running into the Trickster. Other than that - no, nothing."
"C'mon, we have to get out of here."
"OK." I guess he earned that too. "I'll go pack up the car."
"It's just down in the parking lot." He was running out of 'earned it' points.
So I waited while Sammy got dressed and ready and packed up. Even then he watched out the window until what's his name from the diner walked through the parking lot and was out of sight before he'd let me farther than arm's length away from him.
"I can go now?"
But he had a funny look on his face.
"You don't look so good. Something else happen?"
"I just had a really weird dream."
"Clowns or midgets?"
That didn't get as much of a smile out of Sammy as I wanted. He seriously looked unhappy. He'd technically spent three months here; I couldn't remember the last place I'd spent three weeks in. I had to get him away from this town.
I went down to the car and Sam followed. A little too close and spending more time looking all around us than looking where he was going.
"Where to?" I asked
"As far away from this place as possible."
So he really meant no breakfast. Okay.
We got in the car and started driving and I thought Sam was gonna put his fingers through the upholstery he was hanging on so tight he was so tense. Once we passed the town limit sign though he relaxed all in one breath and put his head back against the seat. All he needed to do was close his eyes and both of us would feel better.
Instead of falling asleep though, his head popped up off the back of the seat like it had off his pillows the past two mornings. Then he started talking.
"Hey - remember that beagle that followed us around those two weeks we were in - where were we? Steamburg Springs? Onoville? What was his name?"
Given the fact that that was eighteen or nineteen years ago, I couldn't remember the beagle's name. Given the fact that Sam didn't give me a chance to answer, it didn't matter.
"Albert wasn't it? Who names their beagle Albert? Then what happened? Is that where the muffler fell off? And we found those stones that looked like arrowheads? I remember that bridge we had to drive over and I was sure it was going to collapse underneath us..."
From there for the next hour and a half Sam talked non-stop about everything and anything that popped into his head. It was like he'd spent those one hundred days or even longer just storing up things to talk about. He let me get an answer in every once in awhile but other than that, I let him talk. He had those one hundred days of stress and worry and aggravation to wear off and talking was better than a lot of alternatives.
"- smelled like Dad's aftershave and it was like I was twelve years old again and -."
"Are you hungry? We're coming up to some restaurants."
"Hungry? Uh - yeah. Yeah, sure. Hey - you remember that restaurant we stopped at back when - how old were you? - that girl you were trying to make time with had that little sister who - what - couldn't have been more than ten and she got so mad that her sister was getting all your attention so she pulled the fire alarm and -."
I chose a little more upscale eatery than Sammy'd been subjected to recently. He kept talking, with a break now and then when the hostess seated us and the waitress took our order. He ordered a big breakfast and took a long time eating it because - did I mention? - he didn't stop talking.
Finally, thanks to our walk down memory lane, I remembered something.
"I think somebody needs a nap."
Score one for me, I managed to make him speechless.
"When you were a kid, this is how you'd be when you were exhausted. Dad'd tell you to take a nap and you'd insist you weren't tired, but the minute your head hit the pillow - zzzzzzzz."
Normally I think I would've gotten a glare from Sam. Instead, I got a new train of thought.
"Remember all the times we'd fall asleep in the back of the car and wake up with Dad's coat over us - ?"
Aaaaand - I was back to listening.
Listening though I wondered if there was more going on. Sure, Sammy used to get motor-mouth when he was tired, but he got it too when Dad and I would get back from any hunt that he hadn't been part of. Those couple years I was old enough to go and Sam wasn't yet, we'd get back from a hunt and pick up Sam from Bobby's or Pastor Jim's and find a motel and Sam would be glued to my side, talking, asking questions, sometimes talking about the most ridiculous or impossible things, like someone had slipped him some kind of drug that put him on over drive.
When I'd go to bed, it'd be Dad's turn and I'd fall asleep listening to Dad listening to Sam, answering his questions when he could get a word in, making appropriate encouraging sounds of interest when he couldn't. I'd wake up to find Sam sprawled out asleep in his clothes like he'd fallen asleep talking. I'd even find him sometimes asleep in bed next to Dad like he'd needed Dad close by to even be asleep.
When I asked Sam, he said he didn't think he was acting any way out of the ordinary. When I asked Dad, he said Sam spent his time away from us afraid we wouldn't come back and talking and sticking close was his way relieving all that stress and fear.
So if Sam was talking this much now, he had to have had a mountain of stress and fear to deal with from those one hundred days. I decided he could talk for the next hundred days if it helped him.
Fortunately for my ears, we were less than five miles away from the restaurant when the food and exhaustion caught up with Sam and he fell asleep in the passenger seat. He fell asleep practically in mid-sentence, turned toward me on the seat. He looked so relaxed and so - quiet. That was something I could definitely deal with the next couple hundred miles.
The road we were on was winding, and one kinda sharp turn had Sammy sliding over until his head was resting against my shoulder. He was so dead asleep, he didn't even notice. Yeah I could've woke him up. I could've slid him back over against the door where he usually slept.
But I kept driving and let him stay where he was. Talking was over, for now anyway. Sticking close didn't need being awake.
A half hour or forty five minutes later, Sam started to wake up. He took a deep breath, lifted his head and looked around. He looked at me, took a long blink, then poked me with his index finger. Apparently I passed some test because he took another deep breath and sank against me again with his head on my shoulder.
And I kept driving.