Jessie Dawson gripped the steering wheel, twisting her hands in opposite directions as she watched the headlights splash down the road before her. Her foot pressed down even more firmly on the gas pedal and she grimaced, remembering Dominick’s last words to her.
“Don’t worry about it, babe.”
Garbage words from a garbage person. Gibberish dripping from a mouth full of lies in the moonlight. Her ring finger found a loose thread on the steering wheel cover, and she shifted her hands enough to pick at it with her forefinger.
Lights shone bright in the distance, and she released the accelerator to coast into the convenience store’s parking lot. Safe between the lines, she turned the ignition off and rested her head on her hands on the steering wheel. Her heart felt like the Mongols had used it for target practice.
Dominick. Just his name sent a chill down her spine. She thought he was a dream come true, the perfect man, the one. A small chuff of laughter slipped from between her lips as she thought about the day they met in a shoe store downtown, the shoe store where she worked.
She was bringing a hand towel out front to clean up some syrupy mess one of the million and a half kids that ran around the store had made, and without paying attention to where she was going, she ran straight into Dominick. They both nearly fell down, but he caught himself, and then he caught her. She looked into his eyes and that was it right there. He was a necromancer casting a love spell on her.
She sprang away from him, an unspoken apology resting on her tongue, and her manager came around the corner.
“Jessie! You’re supposed to be cleaning up that mess by the front counter! I’m so sorry sir, what can I help you with?”
Jessie turned to Dominick helplessly, and she relaxed when she laid eyes on him again. He took charge immediately.
“I don’t believe you can help me with a thing, ma’am. Jessie has everything under control.” He raised an eyebrow at the manager, who turned without another word, and then wondered for the rest of the day why exactly had she done that.
“I’m Dominick. It’s nice to meet you.” His smile lit up the world. Jessie couldn’t help but smile back. She took a giddy step backward, and kicked a pair of cypress clogs beneath the towering shelves. Dominick reached out and took her hand, and she dropped the towel.
The two of them left the store, Jessie dropping her apron in the doorway on her way out.
She thought they were going to live happily ever after, but ever after only lasted seven months. Seven months of happiness, and now this. Jessie lifted her head from the steering wheel and looked around the parking lot. Two other cars, but no one in either.
She got out and went into the store and spent twenty minutes perusing the overpriced chips and beef jerky before selecting a single bottle of water and a pack of spearmint gum. Jessie took them back to her car, where she sat until the sun came up, reminiscing about the good old days with Dominick.
Alicia’s face flushed red as she realized that she left her wallet in her car when her purse fell over at the last red light. “Can you hold it for me just a minute while I run to my car?” she begged.
“Sorry, ma’am, we can’t hold anything. Too many people never come back for their holds and we can’t afford to lose the sale if someone with money comes in.” The clerk stood impassive, arms crossed across her dingy once-black smock.
Alicia rolled her eyes and spun around to head for the door. I’ll just get back as quick as I can, she thought to herself as she beat herself up for leaving her wallet. Somebody probably already broke into my car and stole it. That’s just my luck.
The latter thought was correct. When Alicia arrived at the side of her car, the jagged shards of glass were tinkling softly down from her door frame. She was so angry and disappointed in herself that she threw her bag through the broken window and nearly took out the opposite window with it.
“Fucking figures,” she muttered, pulling her phone from her pocket to call the police before she interfered with the crime scene any further.
Karen squeaked as her iPod slipped from her hands and fell into the black hole somewhere between the passenger seat and the door of their convertible. She fumbled with the aux cord a moment longer before tucking it under her leg while she fished beside the seat.
Timothy opened his mouth to ask what on earth she was doing, but the question went completely out of his head when the right rear tire popped with a loud bang. The wheel jerked in his hands, and he cringed as he saw Karen’s head strike the door out of the corner of his eye. He quickly regained control of the car and slowed to a stop on the shoulder.
She came up wincing and checked for blood with the palm of her hand before lightly probing her tender scalp with her fingertips.
“Are you okay?” asked Timothy, concern evident in his tone.
“I’m alright,” Karen answered, with one more quick check of her fingertips to make sure they were free of blood. “What happened?”
Timothy shook his head. “Blowout,” he answered. “I guess I must have run something over, but I didn’t see anything.” He shrugged. “I’m glad you’re okay, though.”
Karen opened her door just a hair and leaned over to pick up her iPod from the floor next to the seat. “At least you can have music while you change it,” she offered Timothy. She plugged it in and hit shuffle.
Timothy made a resigned grumble in the back of his mouth and got out to assess the damage. Nothing was bent or broken, and he whistled along to David Guetta as he uneventfully changed the tire. In next to no time at all, he was back behind the wheel, and they were on the road again, driving through the desert on their way to adventure.
When the sheriff passed by the spot a few minutes later, the only thing to mark their stop was a few footprints on the dust just off the shoulder.
They rode in silence, the only sound the steady hum of the tires on pavement, punctuated regularly by the seams in the road. Minutes ticked by without the headlights of another car growing in the windshield.
Eventually, she had enough. “Steve, where are we going? I’m hungry.” She turned toward him, a pleading look on her face.
“It’s a surprise, Sue. You’ll see when we get there.” He kept his eyes on the road, dismissing her complaint without even addressing it.
She threw herself back in the seat, crossing her arms and drawing a foot up. Dinner should have been hours ago.
“I don’t even like surprises,” she grumbled.
Steve rolled his eyes. As he’d predicted, she was snoring in less than fifteen minutes. She didn’t move a muscle when he slowed the car and pulled into a driveway.
The house loomed blackly above him as he got out, carefully closing the door so as not to wake his passenger. One last glance to make sure that she was still snoozing, and he trotted around the side of the house and hopped in his buddy’s truck, leaving poor Sue to wake hours later, cold and alone in the echoing dawn.
Carrie’s car backfired, and she jumped, letting go of the clutch and causing it to stall out. She rubbed the tense muscles in the back of her neck and took a deep breath. Some life lessons are easier to learn than others, I guess, she thought.
“Yoo hoo!” Someone called from the garage door. “Anybody home?” It was Carrie’s main accomplice, Sky. Their annual Labor Day Weekend bash was the stuff of legend. Mostly because of that one year when the twins had one too many raspberry mojitos and tried to go home with each other’s boyfriend.
Carrie gratefully exited her vehicle, dropping the keys in the seat behind her. She welcomed Sky’s arrival because it meant tapas were near. “Just let me grab my shoes,” she called.
Sky nodded and bounced back to her own properly maintained car to wait. Carrie was horrible about being ready on time. Today Sky ran ten minutes late on purpose just to see if Carrie would notice. Her bet was on not.
Today, it only took Carrie eight minutes to find the most disgusting pair of sandals she owned. At least, that was Sky’s assumption. They might once have been Birkenstocks, but time and abuse and disfigurement caused them to look like some alien creature had attached itself to Carrie’s flesh. And the color was just gross.
Sky shrugged, and put the car in reverse. Tapas Thursday was a tradition that wasn’t worth losing over a pair of godawful ugly sandals. Besides, Carrie’s existing fashion sense wasn’t ever anything to write home about.
On the way to the restaurant, they passed the train station, which was decorated in a giant banner welcoming some gymnast to the local competition. Sky pointed a finger at it, and Carrie scoffed.
“I haven’t been interested in gymnastics since my mother stopped forcing me to go,” she said. “Not that I was interested before then, either.”
Sky laughed. “I know, silly. Just like me and piano lessons.”
They pulled up to the fine dining establishment where all the Thursday staff knew their names. Sky parked the car, and the pair walked up to the door. A moth flew down from the awning, flapping in Sky’s face, and she flailed her arms wildly at it, panicking.
“It’s just a bug, girl, you look like you’re directing a ship into port,” said Carrie.
Sky’s face was red, and she briefly tried to defend her actions, but quickly gave up and shrugged. “I know, I just don’t like them.”
They went to their usual table in the corner by the kitchen, not normally a popular table, but they liked it because the chance of the waiter dropping their tapas down someone’s back was pretty much nonexistent.
Natalio was their waiter tonight, and he was their definitive favorite. Even before they figured out the near-the-kitchen trick, he’d never dropped a single item from their order.
Sky picked up a dot of sauce with her finger and licked it off before continuing the conversation that had flagged due to their mutual admiration of Natalio.
“So, you don’t think that I’m being stupid about Fletcher, huh?”
Carrie quickly shook her head. “Of course not! He was absolutely faithless assuming that you were going to dump him for losing his job. He’s the one being stupid. I mean, a preemptive breakup over local employment? I know it sucks, but he’s being a jerk.”
“I know, but still…it just breaks my heart. I thought we were so good together. I didn’t know about the big streak of crazy he had until it was too late. But I guess it isn’t too late, since we’re broken up.” Sky shrugged. “What about you? How does your blood work look?”
“Oh, it’s fine, lately. My serum levels are down, which is good. Hopefully it’s just a waiting game now.”
Today I generated a list of twenty random words from this site. I wrote half at work this morning and finished the rest tonight. If you pay attention, you can tell where I started to struggle with the last few words!
Today Ian fixed the brakes!