Facing the Electric Snake

PlugBack in our room, Alex paged through a heavy metal magazine, Jill brushed her teeth at the sink, and Chris played with one of his electronic games. Donna sat cross-legged on her bed, once again surrounded by travel books and brochures.

The camera batteries were nearly dead. The moment had arrived for me to deal with the difference in electrical power. Embedded in the wall was an imposing three-holed receptacle, like the 220-volt monster Americans use for our clothes dryers. In England it’s used for everything. I kept thinking about a story I’d read about a man getting electrocuted on a construction site – he accidentally grabbed a live wire that fried his arms off.

I examined my converter from the mega-travel store back home. One button was labeled UK, I slid it forward. Three prongs protruded and clicked into place. My head turned toward the receptacle, which stared back like the face of a rattlesnake. I got on one knee and began moving my converter toward it. This was my bravest moment so far. A famous traveler once said that fate looks kindly upon the brave. Tonight, I hoped fate would look kindly upon me. The two devices were inches apart. The sounds of Jill’s brushing and the beeping from Chris’ game were magnified like the soundtrack of a Hitchcock movie. The prongs were only millimeters away. “Kids” I said, freezing in my position. “I love you”.

The brushing and beeping abruptly stopped. “What are you doing, Jeffery?”

I jammed the prongs into the receptacle and a little green light came on. I looked at my arm, it was still there. I stood up and four incredulous faces glared at me. “As a matter of fact,” I stated proudly, placing my hands on my hips. “I’m charging the camera batteries.”

Donna just shook her head at me. Her cheek rested on the inside of her fingertips – a sure sign that she was contemplating tomorrow’s activities. This was the perfect opportunity to make my move.

I sat down. “Planning to see more cathedrals?”

She gave me the look, then changed her expression.  “What do you want to see tomorrow, Jeffery?”

Jill and Alex perked up. “Let’s see a movie!”

“We’re in London. You can see a movie at home.”

“We should do something different.” I added.

“Beatles?” Donna was reading my mind.

“Yes!” Alex clapped. Jill nodded – toothbrush still in mouth. Chris continued staring at his screen - his headphones were barely visible under his hoodie. Alex gave him a shove. “No museums tomorrow!” Chris gave a quick thumbs up then went back to his game.

“Beatles it is.” Donna clapped her book shut.”

NEXT: Pilgrimage to Abbey Road

 

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