Part 22 – Stranded
For the first hour after I pulled out of the station, I kept glancing over my shoulder half-expecting a squad car to pull up behind me, but when it never did, I relaxed. Still, I tensed any time I spotted one, but each time they passed me by and I let out a sigh of relief.
I drove through the night. The encounter with Jet had left my nerves frayed and though more than a little worn out, I wasn’t the least bit sleepy. About mid-afternoon was when it hit me and I found a secluded spot to rest.
I fell asleep in seconds, but my rest was far from restful. It was a fitful sleep, and more than once I woke up certain I was under attack or about to be arrested, but each time I would peer around wide eyed only to realize that I was alone.
After the fourth such occurrence, I gave up on sleeping altogether, started the engine and pulled the car back onto the road. It was very early morning and still dark, and while I was still fatigued, it didn’t hinder me.
As sun cracked over the horizon, I glanced down at the fuel gauge and clenched my teeth. The tank was getting close to empty, and I worried I wouldn’t make it all the way before running out of fuel. If I had more money, I’d stop and gas up, but that wasn’t an option. I’d just have to see how far the old gal would get me.
Soon after this realization I spotted the first road sign showing that Spiral to be a hundred miles away.
About twenty miles to go, I glanced down my breath catching in my throat. The needle had dipped below the empty mark.
“Come on baby, you can do it.” I patted the dash, willing the car onward through sheer force of will. That worked about as well as you might expect. A few minutes later the steering wheel locked up, and the engine sputtered. It took damn near all the strength I had just to turn the wheel, but I heaved and grunted forcing it to move. Though panting and dripping with sweat by the time I got to the side of the road, somehow I managed.
“Shit,” I whispered under my breath and bowed my head. “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
Tears dribbled down my cheeks, but I didn’t bother wiping them away. Instead, I climbed out of the car and cupped my hand above my eyes to block out the sunlight peering in either direction.
Well, it looked like I’d have to walk or hitchhike. Neither held much appeal, but with no damn money there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of other options. I grabbed the last few scraps of food and water out of the car and walked up to the edge of the road. Though I stood there thumb extended like a jackass for close to thirty minutes, no one stopped.
I sighed, and dropped my hand, resigning myself to walking. Periodically, I would throw my thumb out hoping that someone would have mercy on me, but no one did.
Five hours into my stroll, the first few drops of rain splattered my cheeks, and within moments it had become a deluge. I’d morphed myself another hoodie before leaving the car and I tried morphing it again to provide protection from the rain, but my trick proved useless. It would only change the appearance and texture of the fabric, but it couldn’t change its makeup. Unless it was waterproof to begin with I was shit out of luck.
Within minutes, the rainfall had drenched me, and the added weight from all the water bogged me down. I kept trudging along bound and determined to make it Spiral.
After two hours, I spotted the exit sign for Spiral and stopped staring at it with eyes wide. Supposing I found my father, what would I say? What would I do? How the hell would I even convince him I was his child?
I’d been so shortsighted and was not prepared at all. I hesitated. What if he rejected me? What would I do then? I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. Why the hell hadn’t I let Megan and her dad help me?
I licked my lips and glanced back the way I’d come. There would be no going back. There wasn’t anything for me to do except see this thing through. For good or for bad, I would find Harry Turow, and if he wanted nothing to do with me, then at least I’d know.
I pushed my doubts aside and felt a renewed sense of hope swelling in my heart. Though tired and worn, I found the energy to take off running.
I descended the offramp, making my way into town. At first the buildings were scattered and spread far apart, but before long they surrounded me, spanning out in every direction. Most places were small shops and restaurants, some were chains I recognized, others seemed to be local establishments.
Though dark out, it was still early enough that people were out and about. Though not packed, there were more than a few cars and a hand-full of pedestrians out and about. Most of them looked normal, but I spotted a woman with a furry tail that wagged behind her as she walked and a kid with something resembling bear paws for feet.
I slowed my pace, and looked around, biting my lips as my mind raced. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt down and swallowed hard as I locked gazes with a girl perhaps a few years older than myself. Even without makeup she was drop dead gorgeous easily one of the prettiest girls I’d ever seen, looking as if she could grace the cover of a magazine. I couldn’t look away, I just stood there mouth hanging open staring at her with wide eyes. She had long fire-red tresses and was wearing a black leather jacket, t-shirt and jeans. She must not have been out in the rain for long because she was only a little wet.
The girl was probably twisted, I realized. How often do you run into people that attractive alone on a dark street at random? It made it easier for me, realizing that we had something in common.
I didn’t see fear or suspicion in her eyes, but the opposite.
“Hey, you all right?” She reached out, touching my shoulder. I looked down at her hand my cheeks flushing. She pulled her hand away perhaps, sensing my discomfort, and I met her gaze.
“F-fine.” I said again glancing around the street. “My car broke down outside of town.”
“You’re sure you’re all right? You need a lift or something?” she asked throwing her thumb over her shoulder.
“I-I don’t have the address. Do you know any place where they might have access to a computer or perhaps a phone book, do you?” I shook my head.
“Only places I can think of are closed down for the night. If you need an address or something, I can look one up for you.” She reached into her pocket and produced a mobile phone.
“Uh, yeah,” I scratched the back of my neck. “I’m looking for a Harry Turow.”
She eyed me, pursed her lips, and I got the sense she wanted to say something more. She shook her head as if she’d thought better of it and turned her attention to the phone. “Not finding any Harrys.” She glanced back at me. “There’s an Elizabeth and David Turow, who live at sixteen-forty Riverside Drive.”
My heart fluttered upon hearing the news. Might they be Harry’s relatives? Turow didn’t seem to be the most common name. I pondered it over, wondering if they might be my aunt and uncle or grandparents. What if they weren’t related at all? Regardless, it was my only lead.
“Uh, I don’t suppose you know which way Riverside drive is?” I blinked glancing over my shoulder and back the opposite direction.
She nodded, slipping her phone back in her pocket pointing down the street. “Follow this street three blocks, turn right on Lyon drive and it’ll intersect Riverside after another two blocks.”
“Thank you.” I beamed grabbed her by the shoulders, pecked her on the cheek and took off running. It was only after I’d made it maybe a hundred yards, that it occurred to me I’d kissed her, or I could have asked her for a ride. I didn’t however turn back, my cheeks burned at the mere thought of facing her again. And so I ran, all my fatigue and tiredness forgotten. Hope swelling in my chest.