Monday, February 22, 2010

The Judith Blue Stories: #2. Junior

While Judith is finishes waiting on the two stragglers from the lunch shift, Junior "borrows" her car keys from her purse in the Beanery basement.  He unlocks the trunk, peers in, and then chickens out.  He closes the trunk and opens the back door on the passenger side.  There's a blanket over some suitcases on the seat behind the driver.  He quickly slips back into the Beanery and heads down the stairs hoping he beats her to it.  No one's there so he dumps her keys in her purse.  He retraces his steps and ends up on the back floor of her old Chevy sedan with the blanket pulled over his shoulder.

When Judith leaves the restaurant she doesn't say goodbye to anyone.  She lights a cigarette as she leaves the backdoor and strides across the parking lot toward her car.  She fishes around in her purse for her keys and comes up with the wad of them in her hand.  The cigarette dangles from her lips and a breeze sends a stream of smoke into her eye.  She's blinking back tears as she unlocks the driver's side door.  She flings her purse in the passenger seat, climbs behind the steering wheel and pulls the door shut.  She backs smoothly out of her parking place and edges into traffic on 7th South then turns right and then left to take the drive-through at the Capitol Credit Union to cash her check.  Then she turns right and right again to ease into the left lane of State Street where she'll  catch the one-way traffic of westbound 5th South onto the freeway heading north toward Ogden, then Logan, and who knows where from there.

She pulls into a 7 Eleven just off the freeway in South Ogden to fill her tank and get snacks.  When she comes out of the store after pre-paying her gas she sees a man sitting in her car.  She stops in her tracks and yells, "Get the fuck out of my car!" He opens the passenger door, leans out and says, "It's me, Junior."
"I don't care if it's Jesus Christ himself, I'm not taking passengers.  How did you find me?"
"I was on the floor in the back."
"Of my car?"
"Well, I'm not taking passengers.  So get out.  You can hitch a ride back to Salt Lake."
"I'm going with you."
"No you're not!"
"Yes I am!"
"You don't even know where I'm going.  Do you have any money?"
"I have my paycheck and I don't care where you're going.  I'm going with you."
"What about school?"
"I'm their star pupil, they'll let me finish my degree from anywhere so long as I publish something."
"I'm not taking you back and I'm not taking in strays."
"I'm the guy who loves you.  I don't treat you like shit.  I'm going to be famous and rich.  I'll take good care of you."
"Oh Christ!  Why are all the men who insist on being in my life such fucking babies?  You said you'd never had a job before the Beanery dishwashing job.  And in the Beanery case your sole motivation getting that job was potential pussy?  How old did you say you are?  I don't want to raise you.  I chose not to have adolescent kids."
"Wow!  Have any of the men in your past been feminists?  I don't have a great opinion of my gender either, but I'm not those guys.  Gimme a chance to prove it."
"That's what they all say in the beginning."
"No they don't."
"Open the glove box and pull out the maps, will you?"
"I have contacts in Boston."
"Do you now? What kind of contacts?  Are we just talking drugs?  What's with you and the smack?"
"Most of the time I'm bored.  Heroine lets me drift, peacefully.  I feel normal then."
"Normal, huh.  Pump $10 worth of gas and then let me know the next time you feel normal so I can dump you on the side of the road."  She takes the maps and sits in the back seat looking for an easy route east.  There isn't one.  And why is she considering taking him with her she wonders.  And what's in Boston for her?  And why not?  Her hand is massaging the tight knot of muscles between her eyebrows. She has the beginning of a headache.