Fiction Saturday – Chapter 24
A starlit nightfall was racing across the Mojave Desert and California was disappearing into shades of gray and neon splashes.
“Davis, wake up. I want you to take over. I’m exhausted and I think we’ll be safer with night coming on. We’ll switch again when we stop for gas.”
“You look drained. Laura, we are going to make it, right?”
“We’ll make it, Davis. Things will be fine. Once we get to the border, we’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, beautiful, carefree, Mexico.”
They were both whistling past the graveyard and they knew it.
They had changed their path south to California Route One, the coast road. Just north of Ventura, on the outskirts of LA, Laura pulled the car into a Shell station.
The orange floodlights washed over the concrete and the islands with the self-serve gas pumps. Inside the station a young man with stringy hair and acne sat behind the counter reading a motorcycle magazine.
“I’ll fill it up,” said Davis.
Laura opened her door and got out. She stretched her arms and yawned. She looked around the brightly-lit station.
“I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
She walked into the mini-mart and reemerged seconds later holding a large brass key attached to a miniature baseball bat. She disappeared into the darkness around the side of the building.
Davis used his debit card to fill the tank of his three-year-old, white, four-door Ford Taurus. He made a mental note that it was due for a scheduled maintenance checkup. He topped off the tank and put the nozzle back into the pump. It was then that he realized he was finally hungry.
He really hadn’t eaten anything since he had picked at his lunch back at the Target store in Santa Maria. Now he wished that he had, at least, eaten his churro. Laura had inhaled her food as if lunch was going out of style.
“Maybe she’s more used to this than me,” he thought to himself.
After replacing the gas cap and pocketing his receipt, Davis walked up to the cashier’s counter inside the station.
“Hey, good evening, Mister. Can I help you?” The young clerk put his magazine down on the counter.
“Hi. I need to get something to snack on.”
“We got a pretty good selection of munchies and the cold sodas and stuff are over there in the cooler. We don’t sell beer or anything hard any more.”
“Thanks. Soft drinks will do.”
Davis walked over to the rack. He studied the collection of foil and paper-wrapped sweet and salty junk foods. He picked up a small bag of chips and headed over toward the beverages.
“Hey, Mister,” the kid called out to him.
“Yes, what?” Davis turned away from his search.
“I think you got some company outside,” said the young man, his head tilted toward the door and the gas pumps beyond.