“My name is Lorraine” I grind out.
“Lorraine. What is that triple D tattoo on your arm? Does it mean something?” She asks all innocence.
“Yeah, it stands for something. It’s kinda my life’s motto. Degenerates Deserve Death, triple D”
“Uh, what is ‘degenerates’? Is that what George was?” yeah, she’s not a retard; this girl obviously has a whip smart mind.
“Yes, that is exactly what George was and that is why he got what he deserved” my voice sounds tense. Why am I tense? I’ve been doing this for four years, I don’t get tense and I don’t feel regret – every one of those assholes that meet me, deserves what I give them. George deserved more than he got, he deserved prolonged pain more than anyone else; and I didn’t have the time to give it to him. Fuck, that must be it; my only regret is that I didn’t make him suffer more.
“I’m hungry” she says as her stomach growls loud enough for me to hear over the radio.
“Ok, I’ll stop at the next truck stop; but you’ll have to stay out of sight – you’ll draw attention if anyone sees you” I warn.
“Whatever you say, I’m just really hungry. We’d been out of food for two days, George used his pension on tequila again” she admits.
“Do you like pancakes? This place has fantastic pancakes, they put apples and cinnamon in the batter.”
“That sounds good” her tone is so nonchalant, I wonder how long she’s had that mastered. It’s a defense mechanism, never let anyone see you excited about anything, so they won’t know how to disappoint you. I remember that, it must be a universal trait in seriously fucked up kids.
“Can I have some eggs and bacon too?”
She smiles at me. I probably shouldn’t curse in front of her, most adults would say that is bad; but with what she’s been through and seen – what the fuck does cursing matter? I pull off the highway and head for Ma’s Truck Stop, I’ve known Ma for years – she’s a good one, with a good heart. She’s never asked questions, but she’s smart and I think she knows more than she lets on. I don’t worry about her though, not after I broke it up when her husband was beating the shit out of her two years ago. A quick, couple jabs; one to the nasion, one to the philtrum, and she helped me bury him out in the desert. I think that gives us an understanding. Shit, she’s never charged me a dime for anything since – its definitely a win-win!
“Stay down on the floor, don’t get up for anything till I tell you to; you break this rule and you could fuck this up for both of us” I’m hoping she understands the severity of our situation, she seems really bright; but kids are kids and they don’t listen all the time.
She crouches down and I cover her with the blanket from my back seat. I crack all the windows so she has air, it won’t get too hot for another hour. Ma always says how it isn’t “hot as hell” till about ten in the morning. I hear a muffled “I’m good, I’ll stay put” and I get out and hit the alarm.
“Well howdy stranger!” Ma clears the counter and wraps her big arms around my waist, at five foot nothing she can’t reach any higher on my six foot frame.
“Hi Ma! You got any of that special pancake batter ready?” I wink as I ask.
“For you, anything…you want the works?” she winks back at me.
“Abso-fucking-lutely, Ma. Load me up!”
I sit down at the counter and she pours me a cup of her fantastic burned, thick coffee – just the way I like it.
“You just sit right there, give me ten minutes” and she’s off to the cook shack. She never lets anyone cook my food but her. She’s got a new cook it looks like, and he is confused as hell as to why he is being shushed out to the front to cover the counter. I duck my head down to cover my smile, at least there are only a couple of long-haulers in here – I missed the breakfast rush.
“Hey, you want your eggs over-easy like usual?” Ma hollars out the service window at me.
“No. Let’s change it up today, just do ‘em scrambled”
She raises an eyebrow at me, but shrugs and heads back to the cook top. Shit, I don’t need to raise any red flags; but I need that girl to eat and there are few kids that eat over-easy eggs. Fuck it, it’ll be fine.I use my peripheral to check out my counter buddies, one looks like he’s been on the road for a week; no shower. Glad he’s all the way down at the end, but the one closer to me seems familiar. Why would I know him? Have I seen him in here before? As I’m trying to figure this out, he looks up at me and winks. Gross, he thinks I’m checking him out. Cocky fucker; I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. I haven’t been with a man since Keith, and I haven’t missed it yet. He isn’t bad though, looks like your normal Joe-blow trucker; but with a solid frame of muscle instead of a think layering of fat. I kinda like his dark hair and blue eyes, that’s a good combination on a man. Ma backs out of the swinging door with her arms loaded with plates, oh shit!
“Ma, I’m sorry; I can’t stay. Can you box it up?”
“What? You ain’t staying for a visit?” She looks hurt. I guess it has been awhile since I’ve been through here.
“ I can’t. I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to get back on the road”
“I’ll box it up right now. But I need to talk to you, move your car around back and I’ll meet you out at my smoke spot” she looks really serious, what the hell is up with her?
“Ok” and I head outside.
As I chirp off the alarm and unlock the doors, I see a head barely peeking out, “Fucking shit!”
I open the door and get in. I count to three before I speak so that I don’t start screaming at her.
“Stay down, do not get up. Isn’t that what I said to you? No, don’t get up now! It’s light out and anyone inside can see you. I’m pulling around back and you are going to get back under that fucking blanket and stay there until I tell you otherwise. If you cannot do that, I’ll drive you out to the desert and drop you off – alone, then you can figure your shit out on your own. I’m trying to help you, but I will not allow you to jeopardize my situation by being stupid. Do you understand me?” my nostrils are flaring, fuck she’s got me pissed, but I managed to keep my voice calm.
I hear a very meek “Yes, I understand” and I pull into the shade of the overhang that Ma installed so she could be a bit more comfortable when she takes a break to smoke. She’s added misters, huh, that’s new. I bet they feel good when the sun is cooking all the crazy people out here in the desert.
Ma opens the back door and I jump out of the car to meet her. She hands me the food and says “I saw what you got in your car, girl couldn’t keep her head down to save her life, huh?”
Fuck, I knew it.