There was a big part of me that refused to stare defeat in the face. Maybe I got that trait from my father. He was never a quitter. If something didn’t work right, he’d spend hours, days, weeks, or even months until it functioned. He would obsess about it, spending long late nights in his home office staring at the computer, begging for the answer to magically appear.
And now I found myself doing just the same—again.
Rory and I weren’t normally pests, but when I needed another cable to interface the new core with my computer, I set about bugging Grandpa to take us into town so I could buy one. There was a miniscule electronics store in Broken Bow, hardly enough to even whet my insatiable appetite for technology. But I remembered seeing a cable that looked like the right kind. We just needed to get there.
Rain poured down making it entirely unsuitable to ride our bikes. It had been raining since the day after Grandpa and Rory planted the corn. I could tell Grandpa was worried. The last several years he’d been worried about drought, now he worried about floods and all the seeds washing away. Farming was such a fickle profession. Those who work the land must be exquisite gamblers; for the weather in one fell swoop can destroy everything so toiled for. I’d never be a farmer.
With a day and a half of badgering, Grandpa finally relented. He took us to the store after school. Suz grumbled a little until I reminded her that the clothes store was two doors down and she could see if any new fashions had arrived. She poo-pooed and fake grumbled, and then with a toss of her hair, strode down the sidewalk with an air of superiority about her. I knew she would never change.
On the other hand, I charged through the door of the shop with Rory right behind. I knew exactly where to look. The shopkeeper barely had time to greet us as we thundered by heading to the back. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Grandpa conversing with the man; their words, inaudible, the expressions on their faces skeptical. They didn’t matter to me.
Reaching the back of the store, I began to rifle through rows of clear plastic blister-carded cables that hung on wire racks. Rory stood silently next to me. The sound of rickety-clack, rickety-clack carried through the establishment as I flipped through packages.
My heart began to sink. I was positive that only two weeks ago I’d seen the very cable I needed. Now where was it? More searching yielded nothing. Even Rory dug in and went over the ones I’d already checked just in case in my haste, I’d missed it.
“What are you gonna do, Jonah?” Rory asked as he finished the last row.
“Need some help, son?” the shopkeeper said as he approached.
“Yes, Sir. I’m looking for a fifteen-pin to three-slot interface cable. I thought I saw one here a little while ago.”
“Yes, I did have one. Some fella passing through bought it.”
“Oh.” The length of my sorrowful face must have garnered some pity on his part.
“You know, I might have one in the back you can borrow.”
“You won’t be needing it forever, will you?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
He turned and headed to the stockroom. “A school project?”
“Uh, a project at home.”
“Right.” He disappeared into the back and we heard rummaging noises.
I regarded Rory, he was standing tensely, his fingers coming together at the tips and pressing repeatedly in anticipation. It was something our father did when he was worked up about something. We were truly apples from his tree.
Several minutes later, the storekeeper appeared with a thin black cable in hand. “Fifteen-pin to three-slot interface, right?”
“Here ya go, son.” He handed me the precious cable.
Grandpa and Rory laughed. The shopkeeper smiled. “Must be a good project. You seem mighty excited.”
“Been working on it for a long time; hope I can finish now.”
He nodded. “Good luck. Just please bring that back when you’re done with it.”
“Yes, Sir, I definitely will. And I’m sure Grandpa won’t let me forget.”
“No, I won’t,” Grandpa added. “Come on, boys, let’s get your sister and head home.”
I thanked the kind man one more time before leaving the store. Carefully, I tucked the cable into the pocket of my light jacket. The weather was warming; just not fast enough for me.
We went down the street and into the clothes shop. Suz was meandering through seemingly endless racks of clothes. She didn’t seem particularly interested in what was hanging in front of her.
“Find anything?” I asked.
“No, just the same old stuff.” She sighed loudly. “I wonder what fashions are hot in the Inner States this year?”
“Dunno. Why should it matter?”
“Because we’re from the Inner States; that’s who we are.”
“But we aren’t there anymore.”
She plucked a shirt from a rack and held it up for inspection. “So drab and formless…Just like the people here.”
I looked over my shoulder to find Grandpa conveniently out of ear-shot. He probably wouldn’t take kindly to that insult.
“They can’t be all bad.”
I folded my arms. “What about Otto?”
“He’s different, he shouldn’t be here.”
“Oh? Really? He was born here, and he’s not even remotely a GEE. How can you bear to be around him?” I spread the sarcasm on thick.
“Like I said, he’s different.”
“Is he? Or do you just wanna believe that because you think he’s cute?”
“Shut up, Jonah!”
I’d hit a sore spot. Now Suz was in full retaliation mode. How ugly was she going to get?
“Hey, I was just pointing out that when we first got there, you wanted nothing to do with anyone in the Outer States.”
“For the most part, I still don’t.”
“Ah, yes, now that sounds like my sister.” For some reason I felt the need to taunt her. “The sour-puss, unsmiling, sharp-tongued, vain creature that you are.”
A moment later I found myself looking up at Suz from the cold hardness of the floor. My chest ached. Grandpa must have seen the altercation and decided to step in before it got out of hand.
“Children!” he barked in a short tone. I could tell he was angry but trying not to raise his voice and make a scene. “Enough!”
I scrambled to my feet and moved away from Suz.
“Apologize to your sister.” There was no mistaking the tone of Grandpa’s voice. He meant business.
“Sorry,” I said in a less than genuine nature.
“No he’s not,” Suz snapped.
Grandpa got us both by the arm and led us outside.
“I wasn’t done shopping yet,” she protested.
“You are now.” With firmness in his grasp, he walked us to the truck. “In.”
We climbed in without uttering a peep. The shopping excursion was curtailed. I was overjoyed that I got the cable to continue my efforts.