Friends: I’m on the run and you should be, too. I’m not saying that just to scare you. I’m writing this at a Texaco station where I stopped to fill up my old Civic. I’m sure you’re wondering what happened to me. We talk to one other constantly and I have the feeling I can read your thoughts. I’m going to tell you everything, even though my Mom ordered me to keep it a secret, as a matter of life or death. But I only obey her up to a point.

I can hear you laughing. No, you don’t know my real identity, but after all this time, you know how tense things are between my Mom and me. “Tequila, do this, Tequila, do that, clean up your room, do your homework.” You’d think I was 10 years old.

I’ll speed up my story, because if I spend any more time here at the bar with this weak cappuccino, Mystic will get impatient and start chewing on the already beat-up car seats. This morning, at ten, my Mom’s office gave her an urgent call. Thanksgiving weekend was over for her. Me, I was still drowsing. I heard it all while lazing in bed. Around noon, I had just gotten up with the exciting prospect of a day doing my math assignments when my Mom texted me: “I can’t go bowling with you.” It was as if I received an electric shock.

Both of us hate bowling. The only time I played, I almost ended up in the pins along with the bowling ball. Everyone made fun of me and I hate looking like an idiot. So, whenever my mother mentions bowling, it makes me jump. The absurd idea is a code we agreed on. A signal. A cry of alarm.

I forgot to explain that my mother works for a government agency. I’ve never told you that before. If one day she invites me to go bowling, it means something catastrophic is about to happen and I should take shelter as quickly as possible, which is what I’m doing right now. So, you’ve been warned. I’m resuming my route, heading for a cabin hidden in the woods where I’ll find enough rice and pasta to hold out a few days away from the civilized world. One small problem: an SUV is following me.