Story: Directions to America

By: Michael C. Keith

directions

They’ve all come to look for America.
–– Paul Simon

After considering how to get me across town to where I was to meet up with a colleague, the hotel doorman decided it was easier just to use prominent city landmarks along the way instead of street names. I was determined to walk rather than take a taxi. I needed the exercise, I explained, having spent two days on a plane from New Zealand.

“Your call, buddy” he shrugged “So better write this down, okay?”

I removed a notebook and pen from my coat and signaled that I was ready. He lifted his gloved hand and pointed.

“You head down this street to the Taco Bell and take a left two blocks until you reach the McDonalds. Take a right when you get there and go four blocks to the Wendy’s. You’re going to take another right for a block and turn left at the Duncan Donuts. You might want to grab a hot one because you’ll be shivering your timbers by then in this freaking cold. Got it so far?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“After DDs, go about three, maybe four, blocks up 8th Street to the Pizza Hut. You’ll be about halfway to your friend’s by then.

A sudden icy gust pushed both of us against the revolving door that led into the Hilton’s lobby.

“Sure you don’t want a cab? It’s kind of a bitch out here.”

I declined his offer again, and he gave me a skeptical look before continuing with his instructions.

“Okay then, so now you’re going to hoof it left two blocks to the Subway and hang a right for another three blocks when you get to the Arby’s. From there, just go straight until you reach the Burger King. Take your right there, and you’ll see the United Nations building. You got that? Read it back to me.”

“Sure, so I go down to Taco Bell. Left two blocks to McDonalds. Right four blocks to Wendy’s. Right again to Duncan Donuts. Turn left three or four blocks to the Pizza Hut. Take another left two blocks to the Subway and turn right three blocks to the Arby’s. Go straight from there to the Burger King. Take a right and I’ll be able to see the U.N. Sound right?”

“Yeah, I guess you got it all. Hey, it’ll only take you 10 minutes by cab and you won’t freeze your buns off. What do you say, pal? Don’t want you to get frost bite on your visit to our country.”

“No thanks,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to miss seeing first-hand some of America’s most iconic landmarks.”

#

Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction. http://www.michaelckeith.com

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