The story so far:
But then, in a matter of trilliseconds, I envisioned a myriad of ominous scenes. A knife scene which seemed to go on forever, followed by a horendous rape scene, and finally the drowning scene. I could see the bubbles from the air of my final breaths floating slowly to the surface where I could barely make out a figure of the animal that had one large hand and a bony knee pushing me towards my doom. And I just knew he was laughing.
I fumbled frantically for a way to turn the cellular phone off. The tones of the buttons, as I pushed each one, seemed to create one of those background TV tunes you always hear when the monster is just about to catch up with the beautiful, blonde virgin.
My hands were trembling now. They seemed to fight every command I gave them. I dropped the damned thing on the seat and just stared at it. It reminded me of that one time when I had sneaked into my parents room and took my mothers favorite perfume. My father had given it to her for Christmas and she was so happy. I had never seen her so happy. She even put on her favorite outfit. The deep blue, knee-high dress with very thin straps, the white belt and the white pumps. She really loved those pumps. I remember her telling me that they made her feel pretty because when she was wearing them it seemed like her big feet were smaller. She didn't like her feet. After I took the perfume I hid it in my room, in the pocket of my little kangaroo that always sat on my bed. Every night, for a week, I took it out of the pocket . I wanted to be as happy as my mother was that day. I stared into my closet at the pink jumpsuit my father had given me the year before he left. But I did not know that then. It was my favorite outfit. Every time I would start to open the perfume I would see the disappointed faces of my parents staring back. So I never did get to be as happy as she was on that Christmas day, but I was proud of how I had handled it. She never knew it had been missing.
I realized that I had been sitting in my Honda for at least 10 minutes, half of it spent staring at that cellular phone. The screen wasn't lit anymore. Did that mean it was turned off? I hoped so.
I also came to the understanding that whoever had put that damn thing in my car had to have been watching me the whole time. And boy what a spectacle. I had surely given him a good laugh. And I couldn't sit here forever. If I go back into my apartment he'll know he has changed my plan. That would give him control. No. I need to think, but where.
My car keys were not in the ignition. I fumbled around in my fanny pack and finally found them on the floor of the drivers side. My little key fob that proclaimed my astrological sign was sticking out from under the seat. Cancer. A gift from my step-father. He really did turn out to be a good guy, no matter how I felt about him at first.
Okay, time to go. I'll just drive. That was my original plan, wasn't it? I'll check out my new neighborhood, find out where all the restaurants are, where the nearest park is so I can go read or just watch the little kids play. It is going to be a beautiful day. This time of year, autumn, is always nice here Texas.
I passed a little, corner store called The Post, the windows were still streaked with the dried remnants of the last storm which must have been at least 4 months ago. Don't they realize how first impressions work? Next to The Post is a laundromat then a vacuum repair joint. The sign in the window stated "We'll make your vacuum suck, or your money back!" At least the windows were clean.
The windows of my Honda were down and the sights and sounds of this new city, my new city, were wonderful. All the people bustling around, doing thier thing. I could feel the excitement rising in me. My new life had begun and I just knew everything was going to be great.
I needed to call Gene and tell him where I was so he didn't worry about me. He would always worry and was pretty adament about me not leaving when I told him my plan, but he knew I had already made the decision. After a long bear hug and about the sorriest smile I have ever seen he waved goodbye from the porch of the little stuccoed house I had always called home. I needed to give him my new address. He would want to send birthday cards and Christmas cards though I'm sure I'll still go see him for Christmas.
I remembered the cellular phone. Should I use it. Having a cellular phone right now would sure be convenient. And it wouldn't cost me a thing. It isn't my cellular phone. I don't have to pay the bill and normally a long distance call would run me at least 6 bucks. That's how much it cost when I went on that school trip to Austin, in 7th grade.
I recall that trip with mixed feelings because although we all had such a good time and although it was when I had my first kiss, it is also when I found out that my mother had been killed in an accident at the motel where she had worked part-time, mornings for years. A guest, who had been driving all night, had stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake and plowed right through the front door of the motel where my mother was working. The counter might have protected her but she had been standing by the window. I always try to picture her last moments. I imagine her last thoughts being of a beautiful, bright sunrise. Only the kind of sunrise you can get on the open plains of Merkle, Texas.
Yeah, why not use the damn thing? I'm a big girl. I'll use it this once then I'll go to the mall as soon as I can and get my own cellular phone.
I started back home. I'd payed very close attention to the street names as I drove. The apartment complex was on Windsor Street, then left to Yale Avenue, then down a few blocks was The Post. I backtracked to my apartment then decided I wanted a Coke. I'll go the truckstop, verify my schedule and get a fountain Coke. Turns out everything I need is within just a few minutes of my new place. I hadn't found the park yet but I would.
As I pulled into the truck stop I noticed that same black pickup that had been there yesterday. I bet it's what his names. I couldn't remember my bosses name. This would be embarrassing. I'll just smile and ask him for my schedule, get my drink and leave. When I got inside the only person I saw was this young kid, about my age I guessed. "Hi. I'm Paula. I'm supposed to start working here tomorrow but I don't know my schedule. Can you help me?"
He was very surprised. I suppose I was pretty blunt. I didn't even ask him his name. His name tag said Paul. Funny. Paula and Paul. Whatever. I only wanted my schedule so I could go home and call Gene. So while Paul went into the back to look for my schedule I got my Coke from the machine. I grabbed a straw from the dispenser, ripped the paper off and plunged it into the opening on top of the lid. I had been looking forward to this. Nothing better in my opinion.
Paul returned after a few minutes, handed me a paper with a few scribbles on it and said that the boss wasn't in yet but he had found this on his desk in the back.
"Great! Thanks," and I bolted out of there. I didn't realize until I got home that I hadn't paid for my Coke. It was only 2 o'clock. I actually couldn't call Gene until after 5 when he got home from his run. I never did understand why they called it that. You drive from one place to another and call it a run. Weird. Anyway, I think I'll go in and take a nap. It sure has been a crazy day.
"Where is that phone?" I said it out loud. As if I was talking to the phone itself. There it is on the seat under my schedule. "Ah, there you are." I had done it again. Talking to an inamimate object. The only "thing" I had ever talked to was my kangaroo and you couldn't really call him a thing because he was my friend, Loo. I had all my stuff now and headed up the stairs to my new place. It was on the second level of this joint. There were about 50 apartments and I was looking forward to meeting my neighbors. But not now. I'm going to finish my Coke and take a nap then call Gene. That's the plan.
And I did just that. As I dozed off my only thoughts were of my future. When I woke up it was past 7 o'clock. The diminishing sunlight still shone through the glass of the only window I had. It was right above the old couch they had so generoulsy furnished. Oh, well. It is only temporary. Now, I'll call Gene and give him all the exciting news. But I really don't know my address. There must be something here in the room with the address on it. After a few minutes I found an old phone book in the space under the sink. It was next to a yellowing garbage pail. "I'll have to replace that."
When I found the address it was already underlined. Someone had done the same thing as I am doing now. Someone else who had started thier new life right here. This thought brought a smile to my face and I was happy. "Guess what, mom? I am happy today." More talking out loud. I've only been gone from home for a day and I'm talking to myself and I'm also talking to "things". Whatever. Where is that phone. Gonna get this call over with so I can get ready for tomorrow. The schedule says I should be there from 1 to 9. That's great. I'll be able to do a little shopping in the morning. Some food, a new wastebasket, some decent toilet paper and bath soap. They don't really expect me to use that stuff in the bathroom, do they?
I had left the phone on the dresser next to the lamp. It had a really faded lamp shade, probably white when it was new. I grabbed the phone, found the power button, bracing myself for whatever it might do. This damn thing. Why had I been so scared anyway? And it was a nice red sweater. My favorite. I would tell Gene what had happened. He would know what to do. I now pictured Gene, racing up here in his Mack truck, all decked out in his overalls, beating a man over and over and over until the man screamed that he gave up. Suddenly, the damn thing rang. Full of courage now. Knowing my fears, though not unfounded, were superficial. Gene wouldn't let anything happen to me. I pressed the talk button. "Hello?"