Posts Tagged car

Excerpt 145


Danno drove slowly, letting other cars pass them on both sides of the road.  Ala held tightly to his arm, slightly squeezing it every time she thought about bringing up the wallet.

“I feel better,” she said.

“So do I.  You look better,” he said, gently rubbing her knuckles with his thumb, sending shivers down her spine.  “We should buy some boots at the airport.  For hiking.”

“Do they sell them there?” She asked.

“I’m sure.  They have everything else you could need. You’ll also have to teach me about all of the poisonous plants and trees to avoid.”

Ala tried to recall the books she had read about Burma.  When she first became infatuated with the idea of a visit, she had chosen the books on a romantic whim, rather than practical preparation. Sitting in a dust ridden hidden corner or the library, she had paged through each volume, running her fingers over the pictures printed on the old paper, smiling.  The more severe the argument with Jase was, the more seriously she studied the text.

She learned about arrow poisons and gloriosa root. She had chosen a wardrobe from a catalogue fit for hiking through the jungle toward the love temple.  It was important to wear sturdy soled shoes, but not anything that could be destructive to the land.  All of the clothes she had with her now were frilly and pretty, meant for a summer filled with parties and boat rides.  She would have to wear layers until they could find proper gear.

“We still haven’t eaten.  Is the club okay?”

“Fine,” Ala said. Danno cared a lot more about the kind of food he ate than she did.  Her parents had always ordered out when they were home.  Neither could use a microwave properly.  Prime rib was a favorite, along with buttered noodles for Ala.  It was the only dish she wanted to eat because meat and onions terrified her.  Her parents never pushed her to try anything else.

Danno reached into his suit pocket and pulled out an envelope.

“This was in the mailbox,” he said, handing it to her.

She felt the grain of the thick ecru paper that she remembered to be Emmanuel’s stationary.  It matched the envelope from the letter he had given her which proposed the summer housesitting job. She put it inside of her purse.  It was important to relax before the flight.  If she were to have another outburst, Danno would not let her anywhere near the plane.

He pulled over on the shoulder before the airport entrance.  A car pulled up and dropped off a man with shiny shoes and teeth.  He approached the driver’s side.

“Hello.”

Danno stepped out and opened the trunk.  The man stepped aside and twitched slightly.  His head moved back and forth rhythm Ala only noticed because she was staring. She let herself out of the car and hurried over and he placed all of their luggage on the curb.

“What is going on?” She asked.

“Give me a minute,” Danno said in a voice that wanted to yell at her, but held back.  He closed the trunk and tossed the keys to the man. Then, he opened the door to the other car and gestured for her to climb inside.

Rainbow was behind the wheel and nodded in the rearview mirror.  Danno climbed in and tapped Rainbow on the shoulder.  He started driving and turned on the radio.

“I sold the car,” Danno said.

“What?  Why?”

“Airfare,” he said.

She had forgotten to take money into account.  It was the reason she hadn’t gone to the temple sooner.  Now she believed she hadn’t gone so that she could meet him.  Still though, she knew he had a lot more money than what the car cost.  The sinfully beautiful car that he could have had many of for all she knew.  She didn’t know if the car meant anything to him, but it meant a lot to her.

He smiled and looked out the window.  He was happy about the transaction.  She nestled into the nook of his arm and took a deep breath.  He wasn’t attached to things like she was.  He was used to moving on.

Rainbow pulled into the drop off lane at departures.

“Bye,” she said.  He nodded.  Danno got out without saying anything. An attendant came over with a rolling cart and loaded their bags onto the deck.  The wheels squeaked and made her very nervous, like everyone was going to notice them and know they were trying to get out of the country.

The airport was very crowded for it not being a holiday weekend.  The line for security was wrapped around three cues.  There were suitcases stacked on trunks and strollers used for random bags and children clung to their parents legs.

“You don’t look so good,” Danno said, his face nearly losing color.  “Go sit down. I’ll get our tickets.”

Ala pulled out her compact mirror.  Her face was deep red, almost resembling a rash.  Her feet barely moved forward.  She had to find a way to calm down. This trip was what she had wanted.  This was the reason she took the job. She made her way over to a scratched plastic chair and sunk into it.  She watched families and business men pass by, nearly colliding into each other from opposite directions.  No one seemed to look where they were going.  Her hands shook as she reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope.

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Excerpt 143


After Danno wrote the license plate number on a slip of paper, he folded it into her hand and opened the car door for her. Being hot in the patrol car agitated Ala.  The windows in the back were broken and unable to roll down.  She, however, didn’t feel comfortable sitting in the front seat with Cliff. She watched through the back window as Danno retrieved the folder from the car and locked it.

On the grove, there was a wedding party mingling while a photographer set up to take photographs. The bride was swathed in white chiffon with a floral headpiece.  A plucky woman, most likely her mother, hurried and held a drumstick in front of the bride’s mouth, on which the bride nibbled carefully. The mother then blotted her lips with a napkin. A bridesmaid followed closely behind the bride, fluffing her gown. There was a trainer hooking up horse to a carriage that the groom was already sitting in the back of, smoking a cigar.

Ala pressed her head into the back seat and closed her eyes. She was nauseous from the excitement during the short day so far.  There was the plane she would have to board, filled with stale air, which would also make her queasy.  The car stopped.

“Well, here we are,” Cliff said, opening her door.

“Is this report even going to do any good?” Ala said.

“If the woman comes back here it will.”

The building smelled like heated tar and the hallways needed to be cleaned. Overhead lights buzzed and several flies floated along, seeming to bounce off the walls with no way out.  A woman sat behind a counter, writing out a list and blowing her frizzed blonde curls away from her eyes. There were curly cues of smoke climbing up from a cigarette in ashtray on her desk. 
Since she was the only person that seemed to be around Ala decided to approach.

“I’m here to file a report,” she said.

The woman kept writing for an extra second, hoping Ala would see that she was busy and not disturb her. She turned her head slowly, revealing a scar underneath her eye.

“Oh yeah, Cliff called over.  I’m Arlene.”

“Wow.  Hi, I’ve been meaning to call you and thank you for finding my wallet,” Ala said.

Arlene’s eyes widened as she pushed the notepad aside.

“So, you got your wallet back?”

“Yes. It was dropped off.” She remembered the pang in her stomach she felt when she saw Danno step out of the car for the first time.

Arlene nodded rapidly, picking up her cigarette and inhaling a little too long.

“Sure.  Yeah, of course.  Sometimes people around here will just go ahead and return lost items, if there’s identification.  Just to make it easier.” The last sentence sounded as if Arlene was trying to make herself believe it.

The tiny white hairs, Ala imagined to be on the back of her neck, sprung up.  Her wallet was stolen from this office. Arlene had forgotten, or hoped Ala had picked it up when she was off duty.  Either way, Arlene wasn’t sure the wallet was ever returned, which meant that Danno had taken it without permission.

“I think I left something in the car,” she said, backing away from the desk.

“Oh, let me call Cliff,” Arlene said, picking up the receiver.

Ala turned and left the office, and struggled for air down the hallway.  She saw a restroom and threw her weight against the door.  She turned on a creaking faucet, and made sure the water was cold, before splashing her face.

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Excerpt 142


She dragged her suitcase, which inched on explosion from the last pair of shoes she had wedged in, to the car and Danno lifted it into the truck.  She then walked back through the house, making sure windows were shut and that the back door was locked.  She threw away any foods with debatable freshness and made sure there weren’t any dishes in the sink.

This was all she had to do. This was enough. A note left to Emmanuel could incriminate her; at the very least he could bring it to her parents.  And she couldn’t handle any disruption in her plans to leave.  She arranged her hair the best she could, using a bobby pin to smooth away the cowlick that seemed to spring forth with the hacking off of her hair.  Her mind wandered into a trance as she wondered whether or not the man who cut her hair had had a family.

“Are we leaving?” Danno called through the screen door.

“Yes,” she said, doing one last scan to make sure she wasn’t leaving anything behind.

She turned the dial in the car quickly, trying to find jazz music on the radio in order to take her mind off Danno driving to the racetrack, which was the last place she wanted to be.  They hadn’t discussed going, but she recognized the route and knew it was better not to dispute the visit.  He had to go, and that was final.

Her parent’s house looked dark, even with the sun shining across the roof and front lawn.  She didn’t see cars in the driveway, but this didn’t mean they weren’t home. Her stomach constricted as they cruised past and she tried to take deep breaths and not think about how there was a good chance that she would never see them again. And there was a possibility that they wouldn’t care if they were out of her life.

She rubbed the back of Danno’s neck as he turned into the parking lot.  He pulled into a spot and left the engine running as he reached for a file in the backseat. A large woman with greasy long hair rushed two small children into a car across the lane.  One of them, a small boy, was crying and she grabbed his arm while stuffing a French fry into his mouth. The child coughed, gritty white potato pieces flying from his mouth, and the woman slapped his face. Ala’s cheeks grew hot as they did whenever she watched someone innocent endure violence on television. She reached over with a shaky hand and opened the car door. Climbing out, she screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Let him go!” She surprised herself by the volume her voice reached.

The boy looked at her with pink eyes as the woman cocked her head to the side.

“What did you say?”

“Let him go you awful cow.”  Danno was now out the car and rushing around to Ala’s side.

The woman grimaced and twisted the boy’s arm, making him scream in pain.  Ala ran over and grabbed the woman’s damp hair.  She twisted and pulled as hard as she could.  The woman let go of the child and elbowed Ala in the ribs. Immune to the pain, Ala stomped down on the woman’s foot as hard as she could. She had never laid a hand on anyone before being taken away and held against her will. It felt really good and terrified her.  She didn’t want to stop.  She wanted to kill this terrible woman.

Danno was now trying to break the women up as a security car that always circled the lot was now headed toward the scene.  The little boy climbed into the car next to the other child and slammed the door shut.

Ala blocked out the obscenities the stringy woman screamed at her and watched the spit fly from her crusty lips. She smiled.

“You’re an animal,” Ala said.

“It’s none of your damn business,” the woman said, scratching at her scalp.  The patrol guard stepped out of the car calmly and addressed Danno with a head nod.

“Is there a problem?” He said, pushing his sunglasses to the top of his head.

“Well…” Danno started.

“Yes, there is.  That woman was abusing that boy. I saw her nearly rip his arm off.”

“That’s not what I was doing,” the woman said. “She yanked my hair out.  I wanna press charges.”

“I can contact the police if you’d like,” the guard said, “You’ll both have to give statements.”

Ala looked at the small boy, who somehow seemed to be drifting off to sleep amid the chaos.  This was not the first time his mother had touched him, and she knew it wouldn’t be the last if she didn’t do something.

“Call the police,” she said.

“Ala,” Danno whispered, “What for?”

“That boy isn’t safe.”

“We’re supposed to be getting out of here,” he said, with his hand on her chin.  The patrol guard walked back to his car to get his phone.  Ala looked into Danno’s pleading eyes.  He did not want to even be going to Burma, but he was for her.  She could tell her was afraid, even though he wouldn’t admit it.

“Hello Arlene, it’s Cliff. Yeah, I’m going to need to contact the authorities,” he said into his radio. The woman leapt into her car and started the engine.

“She’s leaving! Stop!” Ala yelled as the woman sped away, leaving a cloud of dust. Coughing, Ala ran after the car, but had to stop to avoid oncoming traffic.  Danno had followed her and now took her hands.

“I got her plate number,” he said.  Ala began to cry, knowing that the boy would probably be given a severe punishment because of her.

“We can file a report in the office,” the patrol guard said.

“I’ve got a few things to take care of,” Danno said, relieved the woman was gone.

“I’ll go,” Ala said, climbing into the patrol guard’s car.

 

 

 

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Excerpt 134


When Ala’s eyes opened again she could not see her hand in front of her face. Sweating from the warmth around her, she knew she was in in a different place than where she had fallen asleep.  What made her doubtful for a sliver of a second was that she had woken up in so many places recently, that she could barely remember how it felt to wake up at home. The first alarming discovery was that she was lying horizontally and on something very soft. She had not had a healthy night’s sleep in awhile, so lying in a comfortable position, with proper support, felt very unnatural. She ran her hand over her chest and felt a plush cover wrapped tightly around her body.

She wanted to believe she was only dreaming that she was sleeping in a wonderfully comfortable, warm bed because she had been so sleep deprived. Unfortunately, her ear was throbbing, most likely from infection, indicating that she was awake and was getting sick from being run down. And also, that she was no longer in Bruce’s car.  She sat up in bed and flailed her hands around in the pitch black, trying to find a way to turn on the light.  She flipped a switch and saw that she was in a modest bedroom with wood paneling on the walls, a small wooden desk with a matching chair, and a nightstand with a glass of water. Aside from the cover, she was wearing a clean, white long sleeved cotton nightgown.

She climbed out of bed and went to the door, which was locked.  Her throat tightened and she pounded with her fist until a tall round lady with gray hair revealed herself on the other side. She looked Ala up and down and smiled warmly, wiping her greasy hands on her floral patterned apron.

“I hope you slept well. I watched you for the first few hours, and then I had to get baking,” she said in a tinny voice.

Even with the residue from recent events fogging her thoughts, Ala was puzzled.  She had been carried from the car to this room, exposed, dressed and tucked into bed to be watched while she slept. She had been taken somewhere against her will, again. Though there didn’t appear to be any immediate danger, Bruce still had not done what he said he would do. She was almost too tired to ask any questions.

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Excerpt 133


Bruce was right, but Ala felt herself growing angry with him, mainly because he was the only person around to be angry with. She had looked forward to boarding the bus, finding a window seat to curl up in, and calling Danno.  Thinking about his voice made her fingers shake, and she knew calling him in front of anyone would make her self conscious, preventing her accurately telling him how much she needed him. Bruce must have sensed her shift in mood, because he leaned over and handed her a sugar cookie.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “We aren’t far now. She tried looking ahead and still could not recognize any of the signs for any restaurants or stores.  It would’ve helped to know where Bruno’s team had taken her.  It wouldn’t matter now though because she had slept much of the time that Bruce was driving. “How old are you?” He asked.

“Twenty-four,” she said, and then was sorry she had.  He nodded and turned on the radio.

They listened to Blue Grass music as she broke off pieces of the gritty cookie and shoved them into her mouth.  She scrolled through her missed calls to see f anyone other than Danno had tried to reach her.  There was a call from Gene. Her parents had not tried to contact her.

Her parents would not be hurt when she would run off with Jase and this was a relief. She had always felt pressure to try to keep them involved in her life and to make sure they weren’t lonely.  She had thought that moving back from Boston would alleviate some of the tension that must have built between her father and mother, having only one another to deal with in the house everyday. She hadn’t any idea that they were happy she was an only child. That once she was out of the way, they could have their lives back.

Bruce stopped at a filling station. When he went into the convenience store to pay for the gas, Ala gathered up the food and straw wrappers that littered the carpet on the floor of the car.  She picked up the receipt from the drive through.  There was the chicken and two ice waters listed, but no mention of the cookie.  She tossed everything into the bag and tied the handles closed. Bruce came back with coffee.

“You don’t smoke, do you?”

“No, I never have,” she said, “Why?”

“You smell like smoke.  Less now, but when you were first in the car, a lot.”

She decided not to mention the fire.  Hopefully she could get home without relaying the whole incident to him.

“How long do you think it will take to get back?”

“A few more hours.”

“Do you mind if I sleep?” She asked.

“No, of course not. Should I turn down the radio?”

“No, thanks.” She leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes.  She did not feel tired, but did not want to keep having to answer questions. There was the option of getting out of the car, but she did not want to walk around in a blanket and this was the only free ride she had.

She heard his fingers drumming on the steering wheel. They weren’t miming the beat of the music and it sounded strange, as is he was trying to keep her awake.  She closed her eyes tighter and thought of bringing Danno to the part of the ocean that she swam in shortly before they met.

She heard the horse hooves hitting the soft ground as they drank vodka with ginger ale in the bar. The drumming stopped as she watched herself jump into the pool the night she let Danno take her to dinner.  She could taste the steak they ate before Rainbow showed up. She became tired scanning her mind for nice memories that had been covered up by recent events. She would sleep for ten minutes she told herself. And when she woke up, she would get out of the car, no matter where they were, to call Danno.

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Excerpt 130


There was shouting in the man’s language that sounded closer as Ala scooted along the wall.  She knew that the other man had come in, but was unsure if he was alone, and did not want to move quickly and draw attention to herself.  She skimmed the floor with her eyes until she spotted her phone.  It was the only possession, besides her frayed underwear, that had not burned in the fire.  She crawled toward it slowly as the man stood at the edge of the fire.

“Drei! Drei!” He yelled, which Ala assumed was the man’s name who was burning alive.  She wondered why the man didn’t run out and get water or something to try to swat the fire out with.  Her joints froze up and nausea seized her as she thought about having to move without making a sound with the state her body was in.

Slowly, she shimmied to the phone under the cloud of smoke and picked it up.  She had never been so happy to be able to hold something that belonged to her in her hands.  She had taken everything and every person in her life for granted.  And she could be killed in this room without ever showing her appreciation and without anyone knowing what had happened to her.

She shook her head, trying to focus and snaked her way past the fire and to the large heavy door the man had left open. The light outside of the door made her dizzy. She pushed herself onto her feet and slammed the door shut. It clicked and she imagined the man banging from the inside but could not hear anything through the metal.

There were pendant lamps lining the long hallway and she noticed, as she took her first step, that the floor was heated.  She turned left and stepped lightly, terrified that Bruno would be waiting for her.  It was amazing that there was no fire alarm or smoke detector going off, that a room existed where terrible things could be done and no one had to find out about them.

She grabbed for the wall and leaned against it, craving water, forcing herself to stay upright.  She had to find the door. At the end of the hallway was a steep staircase with a door at the top.  She clutched the railing and raised herself up. After three steps, she got down on her knees and crawled instead. The air began to smell sweeter as she reached the top.

The door was unlocked and as her shaking hand turned the knob, she braced herself for an attack. But no one was there. She was in a living room. There were sofas and books and a fireplace.  There was art on the walls and area rugs. It was a beautiful house without any distinguishable décor to indicate that criminals lived in it.  No one seemed to be home.  She crept through, wanting desperately to look for photographs, but knowing that she had little time to successfully escape.

After wrapping herself in a blanket she pulled from the back of the couch, she wandered until finding the foyer and looked on the side table for keys in case the bronze plated front door was locked.  There weren’t any to be found, so she took a deep breath and pulled the door open.  The outside air hit her face and she cried, feeling free.  A high-pitched tone rang through her ears.  She had tripped an alarm.

She ran outside and stubbed her toe on a large garden stone.  She got back up and continued down a steep hill where at the bottom, she could see a small road.  The moon and the grass and the hum of the bugs forced there presence into her awareness, making her tired. She forced herself to look ahead and not to turn back to the house.  If someone were chasing her, knowing would only slow her down.

Something sharp plunged into her foot and she cried out before covering her mouth with her hands.  Her own sound frightened her.  She located the thorn in the bottom of her foot and yanked in out.  With her calculations, she should have been captured by now.  She turned around and faced the house. It looked the same as the houses she had seen through the window on the other side of the mountain.  She became angry, wondering if she had imagined the entire episode.

A car’s headlights filled up the road and she dashed down, waving her arms in the air and screaming for help.  The car stopped and without hesitation, she opened the passenger door and let herself in.

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Excerpt 107


he stalled by the window, waiting for Bruno to drive away and rubbed her arms to get rid of the goose bumps that had developed during their conversation.  She walked into the kitchen to look for the pouch. Where had he been in the house and why? Danno came into her view.

She pulled an open bottle of wine from the cabinet and poured some into a juice glass. He came up behind her and gripped her shoulders, easing them back into his hands and rolling them forward.  He put his mouth to her ear and she could feel the moisture in his breath.

“What are you doing?”

“Drinking wine.”

“You didn’t take a pill?”

“None of your business.”

He spread his hand across her throat and stroked it.

“It will all be back, I promise. It will never happen again.”

“I’m aware of that,” she said, turning away from him.  “I can never trust you again. I should never have trusted you in the first place.  I don’t even know you.”  She turned and went into the living room, finishing the wine in one gulp and feeling the burn trail down her throat while lowering herself into an armchair.

“Do you think that matters?” He said, squinting at her. “Do you think what we have goes away just because we don’t know each other on a surface level?”

She didn’t want to look at him.  She didn’t find his face to be attractive, but it interested her.  She was drawn to whatever he gave off and she knew he could tell.

“Maybe not, but trust means something.”

He knelt in front on her, forcing his chest between her legs and stretching the dress across her knees.

“You’ve already trusted me in the most important way. Don’t dumb all of this down.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

“Don’t lie to me about how you feel. You know how I make you feel.” He brought her trembling hand to his mouth and kissed it.  She leaned back against the chair as his hands worked her.  She saw herself far away, slipping into another dimension that holds versions of people after they change.  Gene was right.  Anyone who heard about this would agree with Gene.  And it just didn’t matter. She leaned in to catch his kiss Soon after, he stood and she and allowed him to carry her into the other room.

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