Wednesday, June 13, 2012

'Big Empty' (3)

Hour passes. More splattered bugs. More heat. More miles.

“So, like, are you really in a band?”

“No. Burned down a church and now I’m on the run.”

“Me too. On the run, I mean. Some perverts at my school, teachers, got a bit too friendly and a bit too…Catholic I guess? My name’s not J. It’s Rhonda. For serious this time. But I’ll totally keep quiet about the fire. Hey, what’s with the blood on your car?”

Don’t say a word, continue to drive. She shares her stolen junk food and lets every word she thinks flow through her mouth, mostly complaining about her dog-bite and assholes she’s dated.  Become an object to bounce thoughts off of. After a while her voice melts away. Hear ocean waves crashing, popcorn crackling, Stevie’s ‘hello’ bark. Eventually she runs out of things to say so asks me questions. Don’t answer. To my pleasure, this leaves us in silence.

Keep moving, somewhere in Saskatchewan. The road is dark again as the sun dissolves into the ground. Rhonda asks to stop so she can piss. Make her hold it a couple minutes for entertainment, then can’t stand her squealing any longer so pull over. She stays planted on the seat.

“This sounds dumb but I, like, hate the dark. Stupid, right? I can’t help it, okay? Animals and psychos and stuff. Scary. Come with?”

“Fuckin’ kidding me?”

“Please? I’ll be super quick. Please.”

Get out of the car, walk around to the passenger side, watch as she disappears into some random bushes. Smack myself across the face to shock some life back into me. Lean back on the door, realize that I haven’t slept in two nights. Consider asking her if she knows how to drive. Rub my eyes, yawn, barely startled to see her standing in front of me with a knife. I’m moderately concerned.

“You sure about this?”

“Better believe it. Throw me the keys or I’ll leave you dead on the side of the road. For serious, I’ll cut you bad. The keys and your car, now!” 

Her yell is about as loud as my normal speaking voice. Quite confident that if she comes within reaching distance of me, twist her dog-bitten arm around her back, put her head through the window. This image makes me smile.

“Ever stabbed someone before, Rhonda?”

“My name’s not Rhonda, loser. It’s Isabelle. Izzy, actually. And I haven’t but I totally will. I swear to God I will! Keys, now!”

Slide my hand across the scars on my stomach, dangle the keys with my other hand, smile wider.

“You know the sound skin makes when a blade pierces it? I do, from both ends of the fucking weapon. You don’t scare me you fucked up little girl. I hate your lips, but I guess you have hot legs so here’s the deal. Turn around. Toss the knife as far in the other direction as you can. I never burned down a church, you fool. I’m on my way to my aunt’s house in Ontario. I can tell her you’re my girlfriend and you’ll have food and a bed instead of a shitty car and a jail sentence. Do it.”

Before I can wipe the sweat from my brow, the knife is gone, she’s back in my passenger seat.  Continue on, sense she’s embarrassed. Eventually all I can hear is the howl of a hungry stomach so pull into the next gas station. Buy a microwave-able burger, eat it cold. Buy her a warm iced tea, share my burger only so she’ll stop talking for a few minutes. Steal sips when it suits me. The blood on the shirt around her arm reminds me of Mom flipping out every laundry day, asking who I killed that month. Look at the scars on my right hand, scabs on my left, recall every punch I’ve ever thrown. Feel the thundercloud grow bigger. After food’s gone we keep going. Eyelids fall heavy, can’t stop yawning, but her damn voice startles me awake. 

“It isn’t Izzy. It’s Annabelle. No, Anne.”

“I’m bored of the lying thing.  It’s not cute.  I don’t care what your name is.”

“You lie too, I'm not stupid. You think I am but I'm not dumb at all. Liar, liar.”

“I’ve never been stabbed. I had surgery when I was a baby and the scars never faded. Idiot.”

“Oh.  Well I wasn’t really going to hurt you, anyways. I’m not a schoolgirl. I’m nineteen, stupid. I strip for strangers because daddy never loved me. Bullshit, right? Some drunken dickheads thought it’d be funnier to beat me up and dump me on the road than to play with me. Jerk-offs.”

“Just a fuckin’ rag doll of the world, you are.”

“Think they’ll amputate my arm?” 

She holds her arm up and wiggles her fingers, giggling but stopping with an “Ow!”

“As long as I get my shirt back, I’m okay with it. I guess we can find a doctor in the morning. Sleep now. I need some peace.”

Moments later she’s out, facing the other way, snoring softly. Her shirt’s open slightly. Glance over to see a tattoo of a bulldog above her breast. Wonder if it’s real. The tattoo and the breast. Pass a hitchhiker, some road-kill. Spend the next hour formulating a plan. Ditch her in the morning, head to Ontario in silence, wait for everything to change for the better. The sound of snoring and the dry cough of the engine makes my head spin a little. Before I know it, sleep has come. But I haven’t stopped.

(End of Part 3)

Note: I'm pretty well versed in copyright laws, so I'd appreciate it if nobody tried to steal this story. I have definitive proof that I wrote it. If you share or re-post it, please give credit to Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

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