When was the last time he was in the car? Must have been yesterday when he and his abductee cum lover (or quam captivi facti amans, if you prefer) Tally took an impulsive trip to "Bumper Ticklers," a kiosk at a dying local mall.
They bought two stickers and proudly displayed them on the Riviera's rear bumper: "You Can't Spell Abduct without D-U-C-T" (Howard's choice) and "I Buy My Sex Toys at Home Depot," selected by Tally.
(As we noted before, Howard was almost puritanical in his sexual squeamishness, so he was self-conscious about Tally's sticker, but he accepted that she possessed the aggressive, goat-like lustiness of a typical welder, and didn't try to change her. As he had learned from watching Steve Harvey in stir, every lasting relationship requires sacrifice.)
|Tally at work.|
So glassesless, he squinted his way toward Medford High, his current abductee tied up comfortably in the trunk, watching Taken 3 on an ancient portable DVD player. The two of them had been invited to talk to the students about abduction as both a danger and a career choice.
It was frustrating and dangerous to drive the ol' Riviera without his glasses, but while some people would have whined, complained, shaken their fists at Fate or the heavens, or returned home to retrieve their seeing aids, Howard accepted it as being what it was being.
So he couldn't see well. So what? Monet did quite well working with impaired vision. Accept the things you cannot change!
But wait. What if he took his windshield to an ophthalmologist and had it ground, polished and shaped to fit his optical prescription? Of course, the door windows would also need to be done, front and back, as well as the rear window, and they would have to be adjusted according to their proximity to him.
And how to adjust the opticalification of the rearview and side mirrors? These problems outpaced Howard's intellect, but luckily the Roy Orbison School of Optometry was located just outside of Medford, so with help from one of its more gifted students -- always easy targets for abduction -- he could make it happen.
Howard often enjoyed such bursts of inspiration, esp. while cruising in his Riviera or attempting to surf on one of Medford's numerous retention ponds. Just a month ago, for example, he was "that close" to securing a patent for a combination lawnmower-baby carriage, but his proposal was rejected due to the difficulty of attaching a rear bag without ruining the product's aesthetic appeal.
As fate would have it, the nearsighted abductor reached his destination without swerving to avoid a lycra-clad cyclist, then plummeting off the side of a bridge, instantly killing himself, his abductee and a recently retired garage-door repairperson fishing in a new dinghy he had stolen from one of his customers, consequently stalling rush-hour traffic for three and a half hours.
Howard popped the Riviera's trunk, gave his abductee, Matilda, a chance to freshen up, and the two of them headed for the auditorium, a cool northerly breeze caressing them, as if to say, "Good luck with your presentation!"
People from out of town might find it strange that Howard could walk freely into a high-school auditorium with its ancient, staticky P.A. system and rotten acoustics while simultaneously committing a major felony, the visible evidence of which walked proudly at his side.
But Medfordians knew Howard well enough to condone his basically harmless shenanigans. How many abductors do you know who, while negotiating with parents on the phone about the appropriate booty for getting their kid returned safely would also ask if there were any orthodontist or allergist appointments or any soccer practices or other activities he needed to take care of during the child's incarceration?
Nothing made him happier than returning an abductee -- regardless of age, gender, sex, sexual preference, race, nationality, political affiliation, religion, income level, astrological sign, weight, height, learning disability, SAT scores, physical or mental impairment, or level of education -- better than he found her/him/them.
Small wonder that parents were willing to add a generous tip to the ransom when it was time for the "drop," as it's called in TV crime dramas, with Howard's usually taking place at Waffle House's during Sunday's after-church rush.
We leave Howard and Matilda as they merge with the madding crowd of caged teens, all experiencing an upsurge of joy knowing they get at least a brief reprieve from Ol' Lady Sludgewerth's yapping about the obvious message of "goddamned To Kill a Mockingbird," as the kids called it.
In all the confusion about his glasses, has Howard forgotten his speech and his PowerPoint? And if so, what does a man like him have to say to a group of restless adolescents? And if not, why we would be asking these questions?