It was the hottest summer on record. It may have been the hottest summer ever. The sidewalk was melting. The roads were sticky. Even the devout were wearing bikinis, and you don’t want to know what the sinners were wearing. Fry an egg? You could cook a roast on the hood of the car.
And our air conditioner was on the fritz. We had six so-called adults, two cats, three rats (the domestic sort), and one small child in a four-bedroom house, we had eaten all the popsicles, and our air conditioner was spitting out lukewarm air.
So Jordan and I went on a quest.
We went to Wal-mart: sold out. K-Mart: sold out. Target? Mobbed AND sold out. Ames, the corner store, the grocery store, the overpriced appliance store behind the carpet place. We drove around the city in shrinking concentric circles (at least the AC in my old Ford still worked), stopping at every place that might, possibly, in some universe, sell us an AC unit. I cried at the Rent-a-Center guy (he was unimpressed). Jordan threatened the pawn shop guy (likewise unimpressed); we offered to buy one off an old lady with three sticking out of her windows (in our defense, she was at least holding a garage sale).
And then, as we were heading home in defeat, wondering how we were going to tell the roomies (never mind the toddler, the cats, and the rats) that we had failed – Failed! on our epic quest! – Jordan slammed on the brakes.
There, right there in the heart of the third-worst neighborhood in town, in a place I swear was a braid joint just yesterday, was a small store with a smaller sign: “Mr. Ting knows what you need.”
“Well,” Jordan shrugged, “at this point, anything is worth a shot, right?”
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