O beautiful for drone-filled skies

“The Federal Aviation Administration has been flooded with applications from police departments, universities, private corporations and even the celebrity gossip site TMZ, all seeking to use drones that range from devices the size of a hummingbird to full-size aircraft.” — SFGate

hi, i’m sally paradise, and i’ll be your narrator

I first met Dina not long after my boyfriend and I split up. I’ve been living in New York, sad and restless and working on a young-adult novel about a vampire apocalypse, but now a new life beckons.

Why not leverage the coincidence of our names? Meet the new Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty! We’ll head west like Kerouac’s characters, all young and American and free, and I’ll ditch Twilight’s Last Gleaming and write On the Road, Once More, With Feeling. (Working title.)

Heigh ho! The Sally Paradise and Dina Morgenstern show hits the road!

next stop chicago

To bee or not to bee?
There’s a strange buzzing noise in the overhead luggage rack. Dina thinks it’s a bee-hive and has spent 10 minutes doing Eddie Izzard’s I’m covered with bees! sketch. But she lacks Eddie’s flair, not to mention his cute accent, so I’m checking the rack.

Okay. It’s a hummingbird-sized drone, sent from Finger Lakes Community College to remind Dina that her student loan payment is due. “Wow, I never thought they’d think to look for me on a Greyhound bus,” says Dina.

hitch-hiking in iowa

We’ve been picked up by a garrulous truck driver, a real character who would make great copy for my book if he spoke English instead of Urdu. At least Dina thinks it’s Urdu. She took an Intro to Asian Languages course at Finger Lakes, but it seems she cut most of her classes.

“To take drugs and have sex?” I asked hopefully.

“No, to watch daytime TV.”

Dina is supposed to be my book’s trickster-hero-saint figure, a holy fool like Dean Moriarty. So far, only the word “fool” seems apt.

on the lam in nebraska

Or maybe Kansas. Whatever’s due west of Iowa.

We’re hiding from another drone, a bigger one, about the size of a paperback. This one was dispatched from the police force in Canandaigua, New York. Apparently Dina was taking drugs, and also selling a few.

This will make an exciting chapter for my book if we ever get out of this corn patch.

colorado rocky mountain hideout

We made it to Colorado and have been offered shelter by an Iraq War veteran named Major Roland. If you’ve read On the Road, you’ll spot this as another amazing coincidence, which tells me I’m on the right track with this venture, despite some serious setbacks.

The major’s redoubt is up in the Rockies, which should foil the SUV-sized drone from GMOMyGosh, Inc. It seems Dina stole trade secrets while she was working there as a gene splicer, but then she didn’t know what to do with them so she put them down her garbage disposal. “No harm, no foul,” says Dina. That’s how she talks. What am I supposed to do for dialogue?

I suggested that she and the major have a lot of steamy sex that I could describe in my novel, but they’d both rather watch daytime TV.

still high in the rockies

Dina's totally drunk the juice
So now I know how the drones keep finding us. Dina did not, as promised, leave her iPhone behind in New York. She says she gets antsy if she can’t play Angry Birds at least once a day. Well, tough blue-tits, because I’ve just dropped the phone down Major Roland’s cesspit.

We’re using assumed names now. Dina’s calling herself Lady Beyoncé Adele Rihanna Swift. I need to save my creative powers for the novel, so I’m going by Jane Doe.

where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars

At last, we’re approaching San Francisco, tailed by a drone the size of an airplane. It’s from TMZ. I’ve told the taxi driver to head for Marina Green. The drone should be able to land there, and then we can start our interviews.

Dina’s applying fresh mascara and I’ve changed into a dress. This is so cool. We’re famous! We’re going to be on TV! We might even get our own reality show! And I don’t even have to write a book!

Which is just as well, because finding freedom on the road in America these days? Good luck with that.

“The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great that I thought I was in a dream.” — Jack Kerouac

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