Posts Tagged car
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.