Chapter Eight

"So…we leave Hillbilly Hell behind for a bit and go on to Greenfield," Lori said to him after they left the store and headed out of Shirley.

"Break it down now!"

The Doctor frowned and looked behind his shoulder when he heard Mandy say that. She was murmuring "Boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom-break it down now!" over and over while looking at a picture book. The Doctor looked at Lori and she giggled.

"She does that sometimes. I don't know where she heard it but apparently she likes singing that. It gets annoying sometimes but eventually she stops.

"Break it down now! Boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom-break it down now!" she said while she turned a page in her book.

The Doctor giggled when Lori shot him a glance and rolled her eyes.

"She's bored now," Lori said, hooking her thumb back at her daughter while she continued to sing the phrase over and over and look at her book. "Okay…distracting you from that…" she said as she neared the ramp that led down to I-70. This big restaurant and truck stop used to be a very good restaurant called the Safari Inn, now it's just the usual greasy spoon trucker hangout and over here," she said, pointing to a paved road in a field that went nowhere. "This was supposed to be a hotel but they got as far as the road and just stopped and it's been like that for about ten years now. The road to nowhere which sums up this area," she said while the Doctor giggled.

He giggled harder when Mandy said, "Break it down now!"and continued her song. The Doctor and Lori cracked up at that while she turned onto the ramp and headed down to the interstate. She kept on going while Lori drove towards Greenfield. Suddenly, the Doctor jerked his head around.

"What do you want to break down?" he said to Mandy.

Lori glanced in the rearview mirror and giggled when Mandy stopped short and stared at him in confusion.

"Huh?" she said.

"You keep saying break it down now, what do you want to break down?" the Doctor said.

The two of them stared at each other for a moment before Mandy said, "Break it down now!" and went back to examining her picture book and singing. Lori laughed when the Doctor looked at her and shrugged helplessly.


"Aha!" Lori said as she took the exit ramp for Greenfield. "Something that will make her be quiet!"

"What?" the Doctor said while Mandy continued to sing to herself.

"WHITE CASTLES!" Lori yelled.

The Doctor looked over his shoulder and saw Mandy jerk her head up and stop singing.

"Chicken rings, Mommy!" she said, slapping the back of Lori's seat.

"See, told ya it'd get her off her song," Lori said to the Doctor as she slowed to a stop at the top of the ramp.

She turned left and the Doctor saw a small city up ahead. But directly by the ramp was a WhiteCastle restaurant. The building was white and shaped like a castle and he could see three cars going through the drive thru on the side.

"Chicken rings, Mommy!" Mandy said insistently.

"Alright, hon, I heard ya," Lori said as she slowed down and turned into the parking lot. "God strike me dead if I don't get her chicken rings. Did you want something?" she said to the Doctor, stopping momentarily before getting in the drive thru."

"What do they have? Besides chicken rings, I mean," the Doctor said.

"Cheeeeeseburgers," Mandy said.

"Yes, they have cheeeeeseburgers," Lori said with wide eyes while Mandy giggled. "Hamburgers, chicken rings, fries, onion rings and cheese sticks and soda."

"Burger sounds good," the Doctor said.

"Any fries or anything like that?"

"Fries is fine," the Doctor said.

"Okay. I'll get some for lunch at home. What about River?"

"Um…" the Doctor said, trying to think what she'd like, "I suppose burgers for her as well and fries."

"Okay," Lori said, heading into the drive thru.


After getting the food, Lori kept the sacks beside her while she gave her daughter two of her chicken rings and a small cup of Coke. She and the Doctor sipped their Cokes while she drove across the street into a strip mall. She parked near a Payless Shoe shop and turned off the car. She looked back at her daughter who was munching contentedly on a chicken ring. Mandy noticed her mother looking at her and stopped chewing her food.

"Hi," Lori said while the Doctor turned his head to look at Mandy.

"Hi, Mommy," Mandy said. "More chicken rings?"

"When you get home. But for the moment, we gonna get you…SHOES!"

The Doctor frowned when Mandy recoiled as if she'd been bitten by a snake and said, "No!"

"This is like pulling teeth for her," Mandy said to the Doctor, gesturing to the shoe store. "That's why I got the food so I could bribe her to do it. But she needs new shoes desperately. She hates taking off her shoes and putting different ones on. If she had her way, she'd go barefoot 24/7."

"Hey! I like shoes!" the Doctor said to Mandy.

Mandy looked at him.

"You do?" she said.

"I love shoes. New shoes make me happy."

"You get new shoes then," Mandy said.

"How about if I help you find pretty shoes for your pretty feet?" the Doctor said.

Mandy thought for a moment.

"You go with me?" she said.

"I go with you and help you find pretty new shoes that you can skip in."

"Okay," Mandy said.

Lori blinked in surprise.

"Thanks," she said to the Doctor.

"Nah, no worries. Just trying to help you have a simpler day," the Doctor said with a shrug.

Lori beamed as she unbuckled her seatbelt and grabbed her pocketbook. Most of the time she had to drag her daughter into the shoe store but she looked back and noticed her daughter was unbuckling herself and putting her cup beside her booster seat. She was amazed at how much change had come to her family since the Doctor came into her life. Not only were the holidays more pleasant but Michelle was coming out of her shell more and more and now Mandy wasn't making a fuss about shoes. She didn't know if her friend had ever been a father but he was a natural when it came to speaking to children. She guessed it was because in many ways, he was a childlike figure himself. He was very tolerant and patient around them and the children adored him. They couldn't wait to call him each week and we're happy whenever he came to see them. She thanked God every day that the Doctor came into their lives as she opened her door and prepare to go with them into the shoe store.

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