The 94 runs in a straight fucking line all the way across North Dakota. And I mean a straight fucking line. Don’t even need to look down at the map, just keep driving.
We stop every few hours. Everybody gets out of the van and it’s the same, every fucking time. Drink some coffee, take a piss. Stretch, get back in the van. Start out again. The road gets counted off in towns we pass, not miles.
There’s no horses here, nothing to look at. Unless you like miles and miles of nothing. For a while the kid looks out the window but what the fuck is there to look at? The kid’s bored outta his mind and I don’t blame him.
At the next place we stopped I made Rita help me put the seat down in the back. I kept her wrists strapped but left the kid’s off. Every place we stop she’s still looking around to see what her best chances are for making a break for it but there’s nowhere to fucking go anyway. Been a half hour since we even seen another car and that was a salt truck. No snow yet but it’s fucking cold.
The kid was out the minute he laid down. Better to sleep.
She’s fighting it but falls asleep anyway. No fucking way she can be comfortable back there. Know what that’s like. She don’t want to be comfortable. Fighting it the whole way, her head against the window so she can feel every bump. Wakes up and looks for the kid first and then she’s looking out the window, trying to figure out where she is. How far we got to go and what the odds are for getting loose.
Not much chance there. Nothing but fucking gas stations anyway. Gas stations and open road, that’s it. But she’s always looking, don’t give up, just not fighting for the moment.
All this quiet and I’m back to thinking again and don’t even try to fight it this time. Shutting out’s what’s got me into this fucking mess. Shutting out all the shit I should’a been paying attention to all these years. I know that now. Probably always knew it but what the fuck was I gonna do about it? When Matty was still around I wanted to change it, for a while anyway. Once he was gone I went right back to not fucking thinking. Shut off and do the fucking job.
So I’m thinking.
Teddy’s gonna fuck me when we get to Wibaux. Don’t gotta be too smart to figure that out but I got one thing going for me. Teddy don’t think I’m that smart. Known me since I was a kid and I always did what I was told whether it was carting shit off a truck or beating some guy to death.
Other than that one time when I took a bullet for Matty, I always did it and didn’t think too much about it, so Teddy don’t think nothing’s gonna change this time around. That’s my edge in this fucking mess, that he thinks I’m too stupid to do anything different.
So I gotta do shit differently this time and I got nothing but time to think about it. The broad knows something’s up. She keeps looking at me hard, like if she looks hard enough she can figure it out. Don’t ask but she’s watching and at every stop we make I can see her sharpen up. Nobody’s saying nothing and we always take it back a notch when we stop. For the kid.
All fucking day we drive like that, saying maybe a dozen words to each other, if that. It gets dark and that’s easier. The kid’s been fed and Rita finally falls asleep for real this time. A couple a hours from the Montana border we stop again for the last time in North Dakota.
Leaving the kid sleeping on the seat, I pulled Rita outside. She didn’t like it, shooting scared looks between me and the van like she isn’t sure I won’t just leave her on the side of the fucking road and drive off with her kid.
Before she can get a word out I cut the strap on her wrists, keeping a hold of her the whole fucking time. It’s dark, even if there was anyone out here, there’s nobody to see it anyway. It doesn’t make her feel any safer. She still has no fucking idea what’s going on, just that it can’t be any good.
“Quiet,” I get out before she can say anything.
One quick look at the van and she closes her mouth again, looking scared. Shaking and getting ready to fight except she’s too fucking cold. Keeps looking at the van and won’t let me pull her away. If we was inside, she’d be fighting to get out. ‘Course, then she knew where the kid was and knew he’d be going with her if she ran.
When I got out of the van I swear I knew what the fuck I was gonna say to her but the longer I stand out in the fucking cold, the less sure I am. She was anybody else and I just cut her ties she’d be struggling to get loose, to run. But I got the one thing that’ll keep her here in the van and she’s all ripped up. Scared to stay and even more scared to leave.
For a second it pisses me off ‘cus this should be easier. If she was guy it’d be easier. Just like that I’m back to being around six years old when I got lost in the store. My mother was pissed when she saw me sitting on the bench at the front of the store but she was afraid too. And now I’m seeing that in Rita, that same fucking fear, not for herself but for her kid. For Matty.
I was gonna get out of the van, out of earshot of her kid, and tell her the way it was. What we was facing, just lay it out. That’s harder now cus I keep looking into my mother’s face and it’s clouding shit. I never wanted to hurt my mother, to disappoint her, and while she was alive I kept as much of it from her as I could.
“I’ll keep this strap off from here on in but I don’t need shit from you, lady.”
I know I should be telling her why but fuck me, I can’t look in that face and dump this shit on her. Like I couldn’t say it to my own mother. But I need her to go along so I’m not wondering what the fuck she’s gonna do.
She don’t quite believe me, looking for angles. Standing completely still and not pulling away.
“What’s going on?”
She’s not stupid. Probably never been stupid, but the shit going down just sharpens her and I gotta juggle what the fuck I say to her. I pull her around until her back is against the van. Get in close. Anybody else and that’d scare the fuck out of them and they’d go quiet, listening to everything I say. Do everything I say.
“Are they going to hurt my son?”
Her voice is rising and she struggles with me, grabbing my shirt. What, like she’s gonna throw me around? No fucking way, but I go anyway.
“There’s gonna be trouble. If I gotta worry about what the fuck you’re gonna do, I can’t watch out for you both.”
She looks confused like she’s not quite sure what I just said. Drops her hands offa my shirt and turns to walk away but I got my arm up, stopping her.
“When it happens-”
“When. It. Happens,” I’m fucking repeating it slow and I hate that I sound like Teddy doing it but she gotta fucking get it. “You stay with Matty and stay near the van no matter what else is going on.”
She’s still fucking scared, even more so cus she don’t know what’s going on but she don’t let on. Chin up, hands in fists, defiant. “Fine.”
She pushes past my arm, turns her back on me and walks back to the van, getting in quietly so she don’t wake the kid. Fine. Second fucking time I’ve got that and it don’t make me feel any easier the second time around. She’s not going to listen. She’s going to see what happens when it happens and she’ll act then. The only things she’s gonna think of is her and the kid and nothing else. I’m nodding even as she closes the door cus I know all about that, about deciding shit when the moment comes.
I’m standing out in the road freezing my fucking ass off and I’m thinking I never should a cut her ties. That I should a kept her strapped in the back of the van but if it all goes sideways I’m gonna need her help. Or at least need her hands free to get the kid out if it comes down to that.
For the kid. I barely know this fucking kid and I’m thinking about stopping whatever’s gonna happen to him. Like Matty, taking that fucking bullet for him and I gotta wonder how far I’d go to save the kid.
The sky’s clear. Full of stars. I pick out a few and know I’m getting the names wrong but it’s close enough. Everybody’s quiet when I get back in the van. In a couple a hours I’ll be back in fucking Wibaux.
Copyright © March 2009 xxxevilgrinxxx