2 West (Part I)

Phone call. Departure less than two hours. Weekend road trip. Spontaneity. Jealous friends and family. Lucky! Overnight bag packed. Jeans. T-shirt. Socks. Panties. Make-up. Toothbrush. Nightie. Excitement. Anticipation.

She wears white leather sandals, a peach ribbed knit tank top, and a flirty mint green mini-skirt. Less sticky than wearing shorts on such a long drive. He arrives early. He always arrives early or right on time, never late. She often forgets to bring things in the race of leaving preparation. She always runs to the car as soon as he honks, not wanting to keep him waiting, not wanting to disappoint. He declines all invitations to enter the house for drinks and socialising.

Enroute to Montreal. CBC Radio because it’s the only station that will come in, he says. She shrugs and looks out the window, prefers CBC over the usual country tunes. She kicks off her sandals, folds her legs to sit on her bare feet, turns in the seat, back to the window and faces him. He tells stories, remembering other road trips, other girls, his ex-wife. She nods, smiles, giggles when expected, lowers her eyes and ignores the ache in her chest every time he says his wife’s name.

Picked up a girl at a truck stop in New Jersey and took her to Halifax. Hooker. Gonna be a dancer. Tried to fuck me every inch of the way. Thought I was gonna have to put her out of the cab—You didn’t fuck her?—Nah—C’mon! You fucked her, didn’t you?—No, really I didn’t—You can tell me, I won’t tell nobody—What? You think every man takes every piece of tail offered to him?—Well, don’t they?—Hell no!—Seriously, you’re telling me you drove from New Jersey to Halifax with a girl who tried to fuck you all the way and nothing happened?—That’s what I’m telling you—Ok . . . So now tell me the truth————Yeah, I fucked her

He reaches behind his seat and pulls out a six-pack of beer. For her. For the long drive. She smiles, thanks him and opens one, feeling obligated though not wanting. Service stations and rest areas hours apart. She can drink four beer before having to pee.

One time I lived on the streets in Chicago—You’re shitting me!—No really, I didn’t have no work and didn’t know nobody—How’d you live? How’d you eat?—I squatted in slum houses on skid row and people give me things sometimes. I wasn’t there long—That’s pretty crazy—Yeah . . . one time I robbed a guy—No way! You’re lying now—Yeah, I seen this guy in the alley and it was late and nobody was around and I didn’t have nothing—Really? Are you being serious now? What happened?—I come at him from behind, surprised him. Drug him to the ground and give him a good punch in the head. He was just a little guy—Oh my god, that’s nuts! He could’ve had a gun or a knife or knew karate or something—Yeah but he didn’t. He give up his money real easy, was more afraid of me than I was him—Like a god damned spider or something—Wha? Yeah, maybe something like that. There was a minute there when I had my hands around his throat that I knew I could kill him right there, right then, crush his windpipe with my bare hands—Jesus!—I could feel this power in my hands and I knew I could get away with it. And I felt tempted, you know? It was tempting just to see what it felt like—What did you do?—I give him another good punch, took the money and run—Well that’s what you’d say no matter what you did—You’re right there

They stop on the edge of a small town at a Chinese restaurant frequented by truck drivers. He always stops here. He nods to waitresses and says hello to patrons he knows. She suggests they order a variety of dishes and share. He tells her to get whatever she wants, he’s paying, and he’ll get what he already knows is good. He orders a combination plate with sweet ‘n sour chicken balls and honey garlic ribs. He has timed everything so they will arrive at his usual haunts during meal hours. She craves something new, pizza or burgers, anything to make this trip hers.

I don’t blame her for leaving—No?—She never forgive me—For what?—For that girl—The hooker from New Jersey?—No! The one from home—Who? When? What did you do?—Just a girl. About 10 years ago. She teased me, wouldn’t leave me alone and I gave in, lasted three months—YOU cheated on your wife?!—Hey, you’re no saint to talk—I know. I just thought you were different is all—Yeah well, it was the sorriest thing I ever done, ruined us, she never forgive me—But that was ages ago and she only left last year, and you know she wasn’t no saint either, everybody knew it—I never had no proof of any of those things—Oh c’mon! You found her at his house for christsake! What exactly do you think she was doing there?—They could’ve just been friends like she said—Like we’ve been friends maybe—I never saw anything—You were blind—Well maybe I still am, but all I know is that I done her wrong and she never forgive me

Ahead of schedule. He calculates mileage in his head and determines they will arrive at least an hour too soon. He stops at a tourist attraction, a hiking trail through the woods beside a brook, a waterfall at the end. He shoots off ahead in a determined stride and doesn’t look back. Her sandals slip on moss covered rocks. Her skirt billows around her waist showing pink bikini panties to anyone looking. She struggles through the path trying to keep her balance and smooth her skirt down at the same time. Stopping to hold her skirt in place and let other hikers pass her on the trail. They meet on his return from the falls. He says it’s not much to see, the walk has taken longer than he anticipated and they’ll have to hurry to make up time. He takes her hand and leads her back to the car.

Live in concert! One night only—Where did you tell everyone you were going?—Said you were whisking me away to Montreal for a romantic weekend—It’s hardly a weekend, just overnight, be home again tomorrow night—Oh—Actually not going to Montreal either—Oh—Yeah, it’s more like Cornwall—But that’s Ontario—Uh huh—We’re going to spend the whole time driving—Pretty much—I see. Well at least we can have a nice supper someplace, gotta eat after all—Yep. They do a really nice pork chop at the truck stop we’re meeting the guy at

Mood: creative/drowsy
Drinking: Water/nothing
Listening To: Are You Beautiful? — Chris Pierce/Sunday Bloody Sunday — U2
Hair: mussed from fingers raking scalp/hairsprayed to my scalp

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