Jason got into his old green van with great care, turned the key, and slowly
backed out of the driveway. He wasn’t sure it would start but after a resistive grumble and shake it fired up. It was cold, way too cold for the end of April, but he didn’t think that was his problem. Not really. Not yet. He wasn’t sure where he was going but it had to be away. He just wasn’t sure where away was.
Jason Roberts hated to leave the home and street that had been his center, his haven for the last eight years. Lord knows he couldn’t afford to go anywhere with just a few bucks in his pocket. The first stop was going to be the bank where he would withdraw every cent he could. Probably no more than eight hundred dollars but it would have to do. That meant every bill he had would bounce. There went his credit rating.
At thirty-six years old he felt eighty. The bones of his lanky six-foot frame ached but he supposed that had more to do with the beating than the cold damp weather. At least he had gotten a few good hits in before they, whoever the hell they were, for some reason just took off, as though a whistle had sounded ending their shift. The three men in business suits just suddenly stopped, straightened up, looked at each other and walked away. Jay didn’t wait to see if there was a next shift. He crawled across the cement patio and using the back porch for support was able to stand up. His only thought was to disappear. Quickly. Money first -then try to think what to do. The police? No. Please God don’t let them have gotten to his bank records.
It was close to midnight fortunately there was no line at the bank drive through. He was lucky enough to actually get nine hundred out. Now where to go? It couldn’t be near San Antonio and he wasn’t sure how far the aged dodge would go before closing down service.
Heading west toward Uvalde for no good reason he tried to make some sense of the last six hours but finally decided he needed first to get settled in for the night. But where? Somewhere he would not have to show identification, somewhere he could not be tracked. Somewhere cheap.
Not sure why, he pulled off the road after a few miles. It just seemed the right thing to do. Taking side road after side road, and no idea where he was now, he just kept traveling finally leaving the road altogether. The beast, as he fondly thought of his current mode of transportation, moved along less a beast and more a worn out nag and every bump shook every painful bone and muscle.
He found himself moving toward an outcropping of trees visible on the flat terrain. Anxious to stop and turn off his headlights, which he imagined told the world, the evil world, his location, he parked. He felt obvious running with lights but the terrain was foreign and he dared not move in the dark with out them. Darkness and silence his friend. He felt alone and alone was safe.
Nestled within the trees and hopefully undetectable he leaned his head against the steering wheel, closed his eyes and tried to think but the blanket of exhaustion was too much. At least he had the sense to know it. Crawling between the seats to the back he grabbed an old blanket, laid his head on a jacket and sank into a dreamless black void.
The next morning brought the sun and the heat. He woke to a stifling smothering heat. Opening his eyes it took a moment to figure where his was, and why everything on his body hurt. Slowly the memory of the night returned. The problem was he did not know the why of it. Alarmed he was not as invisible in daylight he forced himself up to his knees and crept to the front seat. It looked quiet out there. Gingerly stepping out van he cautiously glanced around.
Other than this out cropping of low trees he was surrounded by scrub. The dull tired paint job, once a brighter green seemed to melt into the low shadows. No sun would penetrate this cover.
Well Jay, he thought, what the hell have you gotten yourself into? After a moment there did not seem an answer. Yesterday at this time he was an ordinary guy, living simply, keeping to himself. He was polite, worked hard and poured everything he had into his little house. Spending evenings reading and watching sunsets. He nodded to neighbors but had never really met or socialized with them. After all these years he didn’t know most of their names.
It occurred to him that he had become more of a hermit than he ever intended.
Hungry and thirsty he rummaged looking for whatever bounty might be there. Did he eat all of his lunch yesterday? Finding the bag stuffed into a back corner he found a granola bar and half a bottle of water, which he disposed of quickly.
Taking stock he deduced that until he knew more of what happened he could not contact his boss to say he would not be in today. Not that there was a phone within easy access. A no show sure to be terminated regardless of a spotless attendance record. There were too many people out there who needed jobs right now. He was also pretty sure he could not go back to his house or his town.
To be continued…
Copyright Christine King
May 6, 2011