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An Excerpt from Running Through The Hills:
The sound of the rhythmic, “Crunch . . . Crunch . . . Crunch . . . Crunch”, of my thick, springy, rubber-cleat-soled boots, stepping on the loose gravel along side of the road in near-perfect time to Lisa’s was growing annoying as hell to me. We had lapsed into silence as we walked along in the darkness of night. The silence of close friends is not as difficult as silence between the unfamiliar. But, silence between close friends in a ‘tiff’ is a bit tense and rife with angst. We hadn’t seen a car since the motor of the Acura ceased to turn. And, as we had run out of gas and, we were now stranded in the middle of BF Egypt, with no where to run to, we were stuck with dealing with each other, no matter how we felt. “ . . . nowhere to run to, baby, . . . nowhere to hide . . .” Martha and the Vandellas. Now that song was installed in my brain, and running on a continuous loop.
Overhead, the sky was strewn with stars like diamonds on a Prussian blue velvet quilt, scattered as carelessly as a hand casting forth seeds for the birds to peck. Texas skies over hundreds of miles of highways and country roads cutting through the middle of no where. There was no moon for added light, and there was a chill in the air that clashed with the heat still rising off of the dark, oily pavement, that made the road. Hours of scorching heat absorbed from the intense, blazing Texas sun still escaped in its lazy rise from the miles of dark asphalt. Were it daytime, it would be visible as the heat caused a wavy visual distortion in its rise. But, we walked through pitch, blue-black darkness. It was difficult to see anything at all. Under different circumstances, it could have been very romantic. But we were unfortunately a little tense.
We had enjoyed our visit with my father. His ranch was very relaxing and there was plenty to do there. Swimming, horses, dirt bikes, hunting, trap, fishing, billiards, and tennis- not to mention the great poker games and dominoes that broke out with the various visitors that happened by. Dad had made his ranch a wonderful place to be. I loved treating my friends to a visit, and he loved having us. It got pretty rowdy out there, at times. Like, when my nephew brought out his uzi, or we decided to do something particularly creative. The time we built a kite that was eight feet across and ten feet long, and decided to launch it from the back of a rapidly moving pick up truck, and let one of my little nephews run behind and hold the tail. Who knew he wouldn’t let go?
Lisa and I had partied all night, and slept most of the day for the last few days. In fact, twelve hours before we were still tangled together in the huge feather bed in my father’s guest room, kissing and whispering, and wishing we could get back home, so that we could have un-stifled, hot sex without my dad hearing us. We burned for each other. Going as far as two can go without going all of the way. But, we managed to control ourselves, and spent the evening of the last day of our visit with my dad having dinner and watching his favorite television shows until it was time for him to go to bed. Then we departed for home, excited to get there and to finally satisfy the heat that had been building between us. I didn’t want to bring it up again. Truly. I hesitated. But- I still don’t know why the hell we, or, at least some of “we,” thought it was a great idea to take a highway out through the middle of an unpopulated area.
My father’s ranch was pretty darned secluded. Secluded enough for me, anyway. The nearest neighbor was two miles away, and it was a thirty minute drive to the nearest grocery store. But, yes! There IS a Wal-Mart. In some areas of Texas, you can still accidentally wander off, never to be found again. And, the road that we turned off of must have been on the way to one of those places. We had been walking for almost two hours. There were no farm houses or barns. Just barbed wire fences and the occasional stray cow. I had not even noticed a driveway. Just a long, country road, winding through the rolling hills, apparently on the way to NO WHERE.
There aren’t many good reasons, I argued, (back when Lisa and I were still speaking), to BE on a country road in the middle of the night, other than departing from visiting someone, or running from the law. No view. No fishing. No restaurants or bars.
I had hoped for the first hour that we walked along that someone would drive up at any moment. I was starting to give up on that fantasy.
“You, know, Lis?” I looked over at her, with a sigh. “This ain’t looking good.” I squinted in the darkness. “I think we should pray.” And, with a scoff, and a cough, we did. And then, as if we weren’t already scared enough- an angel appeared to us. A silvery, whispy, angel that mixed with the energy that rose from the broiling roadbed. Our angel said, “Do not be afraid! My name is Eva*. I have some chiva. Worry not, as ye shall suffer no harm.” We were still stranded, yes. But- now we had some weed. It made our situation a lot more tolerable. I looked down with mild alarm at the big, fat, joint that supernaturally appeared in my hand.
*’Eva’ is short for ‘Evangeline’. Evangeline is an angel from Louisiana. She blew in to Texas with the hurricane Katrina evacuees. She is the angel with the wonderful singing voice, and she was heading to Austin to enjoy some great Texas music. And, you know that this part was total bullshit, I hope. But, what the hell- it’s MY story.
“Lis. I don’t think we were praying for the same thing.” I passed her the joint, with a snorting laugh. But I can’t say I wasn’t guilty.
Lisa looked blue and black and gray in the starlight. Her eyes still managed to twinkle, even though she was pissed off at me. Lisa cleared her throat. “I know what you’re THINKING, damn it, Blue,” she snapped at me in the darkness. I felt guilty. I WAS just thinking it was her fault we were out here. We had not seen a sign of civilization since we turned off of the main highway, onto a farm-to-market road, AND THEN, decided to take a county road that cut through an even less populous area. Not even a barn. I did not know WHY she did that. I shook my head “no.” Lisa growled. “Look, Blue, I told you a thousand times in the last two hours: WE HAD PLENTY OF GAS WHEN WE LEFT YOUR DAD’S. There is something WRONG, here. You’re just STUCK on the part where you don’t know WHY we’re out here!”
We walked shoulder to shoulder along the shoulder of the smooth black-topped road. Had we stuck to our normal route, we would have been home by now. In bed, probably. And I longed to be with my Lisa. I hated being upset. We were irritable. I certainly was. But irritability did not stop me from enjoying the memory of our bodies together, and did not stop me from wanting to be home making love to Lisa. My stifled desires from days of unexpressed emotions, and feelings had me on the verge of hyperventilating. I caught a glance of her beautiful profile with her short, coarse, dark hair spiking in sharp shards in the black of night.
I finally decided it was time to stop blaming, and just deal with the situation. I didn’t want my friend to feel bad, and I didn’t feel like spending time being angry. It wasn’t THAT bad. Either someone would come along in a car, or we would find a house, or we would get close enough to a transmitter for our cell phones to start working. Probably the worst thing that would happen would be that we would have to walk for 20 miles. I thought I could handle that. And, although I could think of things I would rather be doing - I wasn’t missing anything. Except really great sex. I was pretty sure I would get over it.
I stepped in front of Lisa, and grabbed her by her shoulders. “Aw, Lisa, don’t be mad at me. I love you. Let’s just get on about our business, and the sooner all of this will be a memory.” I held out my hand, offering a truce.
Lisa looked at me sternly, and crossed her arms in front of herself, in a huff. “Why won’t you listen to me, Blue?” Lisa waited for an answer. She wheeled around on her heels, and groaned in exasperation, when I didn’t respond fast enough for her. “I’m TELLING you, ASSHOLE . . .”
“HEY! No name calling . . . “
“OK. I’m telling you, BLUE,” same thing, she muttered under her breath, mouthing the words clearly, so that I could easily read her lips. Even in the darkness. I rolled my eyes.
”SOMEONE either siphoned our gas, or cut a line, or we suddenly sprung one HECK of a leak in my fuel pump. And, I mean, it would have to be such a bad leak that we managed to lose about twelve gallons of fuel, in less than fifteen miles. I think we would have NOTICED something, or caught on FIRE if it were a mechanical malfunction involving that much fuel leakage. I was very accurate in estimating, and I was CERTAIN we could make it to the next gas station in Flatonia, if we cut through on my little detour. I had planned it out very carefully. If you MUST know, I had planned to get you out here, and SEDUCE you. But, you can FORGET it, now.” Lisa looked at me like she was seeing something of extreme foulness. Like a rediscovered tomato in a plastic bag, previously forgotten for three months in the vegetable keeper. It was so great when you got it- and, now - just LOOK. All nasty and rotten.
Man, I didn’t want this to be true . But I was coming to a realization that was long overdue. My personal denial, and anal retention, was about to get me in BIG trouble. I finally bit the bullet and accepted reality.
“You think it’s Ricki. All the way out here.” My hand on my hip, I leaned forward accusingly, shaking my long, blonde hair back over my shoulder. Lisa seemed to feel a little foolish for being so paranoid, now that she heard her thoughts reflected back to her. She shrugged her shoulders, and looked down at the ground.
“Well. That woman is insane. She has been a horrible pain in the ass.” Lisa slapped her forehead, still looking down. She tried to isolate a good rock to kick along as we walked down the highway. It was too dark to see very well.
“Have you REALLY thought about what you are fearing? Because, if that woman went through the trouble to siphon our gas, or otherwise make us run out of fuel, then that means she has probably planned to be waiting at the end of the line when we ran out. There are only a few places where we could be. She IS a cop, you know.
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