She dipped into the bathroom of a truck stop to clean-up and do damage control. Eileen lifted her fingers to her busted lip and hissed at the pain. It was still swollen. Her eye looked worse. She wore a pair of cheap, black sunglasses and carried an overstuffed purse. Her heels were dusty from walking. She straightened out her bag and put a t-shirt on over last night’s club wear. Her tiny skirt continued to ride up. Her blonde hair had a knot in the back. Last night’s make-up blackened her under-eyes. She was a mess.
Bill saw the young woman enter and exit the building as he sat eating his lunch. He saw her walking as he drove by, on his way in. Bill figured she was a lot lizard or a hitcher. He took a long slurp from his orange soda and straightened his belt.
“Ma’am?” Bill waved politely.
His tall, lanky frame made him seem awkward and innocent. He kept his hair short and neatly brushed. He wore khakis, a polo and a big, lop-sided grin to lock it in. Bill was a little goofy. He was in his 40’s. His pants were a little high. He thought it a shame her having to walk like that.
Eileen was finishing off a much needed spliff before beginning her walk. That’s when she noticed Bill. She was not in the mood to be bothered. She waved him off. The traffic was picking up and the sounds of the cars were drowning him out.
“Ma’am! I’ve seen you walking. Do you need a ride?” he called out.
Eileen perked up. She got up slowly and walked towards Bill.
“I need to get to Phoenix,” she sighed.
“Well, I can take you as far as La Paz. How’s that?” he asked.
Eileen nodded slowly. Her shoulders relaxed. Finally, some good luck. She hoped for a nap, too. Unfortunately, Bill wanted someone to entertain him. They were barely settled in good before Bill started with his questions.
“So why are you leaving town?” Bill asked, excited to start up a conversation.
“Because my boyfriend..ah, ex-boyfriend, Hank, hit me in the face, again,” Eileen was matter-of-fact.
“Besides, I just want to go home. Start over. I hate this shit,” she hugged her overstuffed bag closer. It was all she had in the world.
It looked like Bill was really gearing up for some unwanted advice when the sirens caught both of them off-guard.
“Oh! Oh, I wasn’t paying attention! I believe I was going too fast!” Bills voice almost cracked.
Eileen groaned, “Shit, just be cool.”
The two officers approached Bill’s car, one on either side. Eileen was shocked at how Bill’s anxiety skyrocketed. One of the officers smelled marijuana in the car. Eileen knew when they searched her purse they’d find about an ounce and papers. She owned up to it. They searched, detained her, and stuck her in the back of a squad car. Bill was probably shitting his pants right now.
Three other squad cars and an unmarked rolled up. The cops pulled Bill out of the car and questioned him. She watched as Bill was frisked and cuffed. The police were searching his car. She felt like shit. It wasn’t Bill’s pot.
Finally, an officer finally came over to the door.
“So, tell me how you fit into all this,” he said.
“The pot’s mine. I smoked right before I got into this guy’s car. I’m know I smell like it. I’m trying to get to Phoenix. This guy was nice enough to give me a ride to La Paz. He didn’t know about the weed. It’s not his fault.” Eileen tried to sum up the situation and take blame.
“Not his fault, eh? How long have the two of you been riding?” he asked.
“About twenty – thirty minutes… something like that.” Eileen shrugged, guessing.
“He do that?” motioning with the tip of his pen towards her face.
“Huh?…Oh, no…” Eileen forgot what she looked like.
“You’re a lucky girl. Sit tight. Someone will be with you soon.”
“Lucky. O.k. Thanks…”
The officer walked away. Eileen’s view was partially blocked by a County Coroner’s van parked beside Bill’s car. His trunk was popped. They were removing a body.