Jimmy Biffman's life has just cratered. His wife dumps him for Dr. Dwayne the periodontist, he's downsized out of a job, and he's living in a trailer in his best friend Erica's backyard. So, when Erica hatches a wild scheme to recapture Jimmy's lost youth, he's powerless to resist. RUNAWAYS is the journey of two 40-somethings looking for a life they're convinced has passed them by. With a na?ve belief in what's possible--and a foolish misunderstanding of the risks--they end up completely out of their element and in way over their heads. The unsavory predators who suck them into their world know exactly what they're doing--unlike Erica and Jimmy, who, like two giddy high-schoolers cutting class, have no idea what they're in for. Their new lives won't turn out remotely as they've planned...
I’m sitting in Eric and Erica’s cluttered living room. Toys litter the threadbare carpet, scattered randomly like those pictures you see after the tornado pulver-izes the trailer park in Alabama. Battered Barbies, disemboweled G.I. Joes that look like they stepped on landmines, electronic game guts—all the detritus of seven home-schooled, rowdy kids. Eric and Erica started breeding early and often, and by the time Erica hit thirty-two she was the proud mother of six towheaded demons from hell. She stopped for a few years, and then little Eli came along as an exclamation point. The oldest girl, Elizabeth, helps Erica out with the feeding and educating, but she’s planning to head off to some bible college next year. Poor Erica. She’ll be stuck with the rest of them for years to come. So many rugrats. Don’t get me wrong, they’re cute kids and all, but seven of anything is too much. Especially if you have to feed them.
“Doctor Dwayne?!” Erica says, her mouth spitting Doctor Dwayne’s name out like it’s a turd-filled bonbon. Ezekial, her six-and-a-half-year-old, runs shrieking into the living room chased by Boomer, their Corgi. Boomer likes to herd the little kids. He nips at Eli’s diaper and pulls it down half-mast. “Just a second,” Erica sighs, exasperation and exhaustion flopping over her face like a limp dishrag. Poor Erica. My all-time best buddy, the woman I should’ve mar-ried, reduced to breeding, home-schooling, and chasing Corgis and towheaded kids whose names all start with “E”. She follows them out into the kitchen, and I hear her scolding Ezekial for not keeping on eye on Eli, and then she yells at Elishaba and Elizabeth to get busy studying the bible passages they’re supposed to memorize.
Erica and I were band **** in high school. She played the tuba, I pounded spastically on the bass drum. We wore the geeky uniforms and marched in sad little formations during football game halftimes, either ignored or insulted by the fans. Eric was the QB, the ultimate stud, and when Erica caught his eye—because for a band *** she was awfully cute, even in her ridiculously towering feather-topped hat and pearl white tuba—he pursued her relentlessly. Any thought I might have had at having Erica for myself—which never occurred to me until Eric went after her—disappeared with Eric’s broken field scrambling pursuit. He had quick feet, and he bagged her in no time. He would’ve been a great linebacker.
They got married the day after high school graduation, and then the babies started arriving with biennial regularity. For some reason she’d always get pregnant in the summer, and invariably deliver in late February; I told her she should name her kids permutations of George.
Eric went to work in his family’s beer distributorship right out of high school. He’d wanted to play college ball, but his dad, the ultimate hard-ass “I didn’t need no college and neither do you” kind of guy made him work. Proba-bly just as well; with all the babies, Eric would’ve had a hard time memorizing X’s and O’s.