The last time I travelled on this road, I was hitching. I was wearing a twirly blue dress that hung around me and I felt like I thought I would feel if I was wearing silk. I’ve never worn silk before, and the dress was synthetic, but it was shiny and fell in folds and looked like the sky sometimes when it’s getting dark. So I was pretty pleased with that. But hitching in stilettos is no joke, even ones that went so nice with my dress. Every step I took my heels jabbed into the dirt and flung up dust behind me. And some of the scrubby little bushes caught on my dress. I was carrying a big leather bag, too, and I still remember what was in it: fifty dollars, two tubes of lipstick, a spare set of stockings, a cat collar, two aspirin, some tissues, a broken wristwatch and a napkin with a love-note on it.
This time, I’m on the road in style. Not too lavish; I don’t think a twelve dollar bus ticket compares to what I would imagine a limousine is like. But still, it’s not hitching in a fake silk dress and spiky shoes through the desert with the darkness coming on.
Not many people stopped, not on that road, even though I looked pretty nice. Lots nicer than the hitchhikers I see now, with their dirty thumbs stuck in the air and their dusty clothes and their windblown hair. The bus doesn’t have to feel under obligation to stop though, not like the cars do. It’s not like you can’t see the hitchers, there’s nothing much else around to look at while your driving ’cept the dirt and the scrub and the sky. Sometimes there’s a building, but not enough to break up the monotony. There was one car that stopped for me though. A white Cadillac. I didn’t recognise the car, so I thought it would be okay. The car sort of swung in front of me, half off the road, like the driver was too important to pull in properly and let the other traffic go past. So the other cars were swerving around the tail of the Cadillac. Some of them were beeping their horns and losing a little traction on the road in the swerve. I teetered up to the passenger door on my big spiky heels. I saw the driver through the dark window reach across the passenger seat and tug on the the door handle to open it up for me.
He had a smooth voice and brylcreemed hair, and he said “Hi there miss, where’re you goin’ tonight?” his eyes were close-set buttons on an over-stuffed pillow and he hissed his “s”es around a lonely front tooth.
“Just a bit further down the way” I said. I didn’t think I wanted to ride with him. “I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
His voice fell low. “You look a little young to be out on your own like that.”
“I’m twenty four.” The lie came easy.
“And I’m a cop”. He smoothed his voice down and hair out at the same time. “Let’s see some identification, or you’ll be coming with me”.
And then I got scared, cos I knew that if he hadn’t recognised me yet then he would soon, and I wondered if Billy was safe, so I said “I seem to have left it at home by mistake. I shalln’t trouble you longer, but if you want to drive me back the other way about a hundred miles, that’s where my id is.” My rationale was that if I was too much trouble, the smooth policeman would just leave, and I could try and get to Billy and make sure we were both alright and together.
“Now now.” He said. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I just wanna help. That’s what policemen do you know. There there. You look like you need some help.” He sounded like a bridesmaid placating a nervous and cold-footed bride. And, while my toes were getting cold and I was damn nervous, I sure wasn’t about to get married, specially not with him there.
“Oh, I’m sure I’m fine.” Another lie.
“Then where are you going, little lady?” He inquired. “There sure ain’t much on this road, and the end is a ways away.”
I didn’t know what to do. I was trying to get to Billy but I couldn’t tell him that. I looked around for some way out. Coming up towards us was a big blue Ford pickup, the inside light on. Inside, I could see shapes pulling at the wheel. The truck was getting closer, and swerving all over the road. I saw a shape that wasn’t driving pull back an arm and land one hell of a punch on the other shape’s jaw. The wheel flew out of the driving shape’s hands, the truck all lit up on the inside. The truck plowed toward the back of smooth cop’s caddy. The two shapes morphed into people as the truck got closer; the one that was punched and slumped over the steering wheel had hair and ears and a nose just like Billy. But his eyes were closed and his cheek was bleeding so maybe it wasn’t him.
The truck hit the back of the caddy—a white whale getting beached by a tidal wave. There was the sound of crunching metal and smashing glass. The caddy was shunted into the ditch on the side of the road. It landed nose first and was flipped over by the truck as it mounted the caddy’s rear. The people from the truck—shapes again now—had gone through the windshield and landed in the scrub on the other side of the ditch.
I backed away into the dark, away from the wrecks, and headed to the opposite side of the road and back the way I came. At least one of us could be saved.
Now I’m on the road again, travelling smooth in the bus, sleeping my way through the desert if I want. It all looks pretty familiar, but then the whole desert looks pretty familiar. Except the bit that’s coming up. We’re about to go past old Desmond’s Place.
This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. The only constrictions were the time limit and five randomly selected words from the dictionary. Today the words were: identification, punch, bridesmaid, rationale, and tooth.
Image courtesy of Reznicek111.