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Yes, inhale deeply my friends.
That aroma you smell is a satisfying mix of fried chicken, onions, bean soup and meat loaf with a side of mildewed mop. It is the most notable feature of the Road Masters truck stop in Kingdom City. Drivers with flannel shirts and camouflaged ball caps sit at the food counter with their kits waiting for the next available shower, while vacationers arrayed at scattered tables assure their kids, yes they can have one more piece of cornbread from the buffet.
Brooke McHenry walked into the cafe and right past the ‘Wait to be Seated’ sign. She stood in the middle of the dining area, dropped her backpack to the floor and took a deep breath before announcing loudly, “Anyone headed west? I’m looking for a ride.”
For a moment, all sound in the Road Masters cafe stopped. Brooke looked around to catch the stares from the diners. One by one they turned away, some with a brief scowl or a whisper to their neighbors; but one gangling trucker raised his hand like in school and said, “Ah am. You can ride wit me.” He looked too eager. His close-set eyes perused Brooke’s form, from her well-worn Chucks, across firm thighs and shapely hips- and they froze at her tank top stretched over fine, remarkable breasts. The man’s lower lip hung open, exposing tobacco stained teeth and the sheen of perpetual drool.
‘No fucking way,’ thought Brooke. She turned, scanned the room and caught the eye of an older man sitting at a table alone with a cup of coffee and an empty food plate. He looked… less offensive, so she raised her eyebrows expectantly to transmit her unspoken message. ‘Please help me out here.’
On cue, the man said. “I’m heading west.”
Two minutes later, the man paid his bill at the front kiosk and turned around to offer Brooke his hand. “I’m Ray Bollard,” he said. “I’m heading west from here, but eventually northwest. Also, I’m driving a car, not a rig. Is that OK with you?”
Brooke read him as a regular guy with a strong grip as she shook his hand. She gave him just the briefest of smiles and replied, “Yeah, that’s good.”
Ray held the door for her as they headed outside. With the pack on her shoulder she brushed past him into the parking lot.
Ray’s car was parked at the far side of the lot and glinted in the bright sun. Brooke put on dark framed sun glasses as they approached and reached out to touch its emerald green, metal flake paint. Ray suddenly and grabbed her wrist. “Please don’t do that,” he said. He let go of her hand, and apologized. “I’m sorry. A lot of effort in that paint job, and fingers cause small scratches,” he said sheepishly.
“What kind of car is this?” asked Brooke as she circled the vehicle admiring the fit and finish.
“Before your time, I guess,” said Ray, “It’s a Duster, made in 1972.”
“Is it like a Chevy?” asked Brooke.
Ray laughed, “No, it’s like a Plymouth.”
“A what?” asked Brooke
Ray shook his head and said, “They don’t make them any more.” He opened the passenger door and gestured at the back seat for her to store her pack. Brooke stowed her gear, settled into the passenger seat and pulled the door shut. Ray walked around the car, opened the drivers side and sat behind the wheel. He inserted the key in the steering column, jiggled the shifter and started the engine. The Duster rumbled to life.
Ray leaned forward and looked up at the sky. He looked over at Brooke and said, “Listen, I’m not busting my ass on this trip, so I plan to drive till I’m hungry again and then stopping for the night. You can hop out then, if you like, and find another ride.”
“Can’t we drive at night?” asked Brooke.
“Can you drive a stick?” asked Ray in response.
Brooke shook her head, and squeezed her hands between her legs. “Thanks, for coming to my rescue in there,” She said halfheartedly smiling as stared at the faux wood and plastic dash. Then she looked over at Ray and said, “I just needed to get gone, you know?”
Ray nodded, eyeing the pretty girl. Straight, strawberry blond hair, parted at the middle, and casually dressed to blend-in, rather than stand-out. Yes, she was running, but from what?
“Understood,” Ray said. He engaged the clutch, pushed the shift lever to one, and the Duster rolled out of the parking lot onto the service road headed for the entrance ramp to the Interstate.
Brooke rolled up a hoodie for a pillow, wedged herself against the passenger door and fell asleep shortly after leaving Kingdom city. Ray watched the road and glanced at his passenger from time to time. He amused himself imagining her back story, if she had one. She was young, maybe 25. Old enough to get into trouble but not hardened like many women he’d known. Should he be concerned?
The car shuddered when Ray downshifted as he came up behind an eighteen wheeler running too slow in the fast lane. He flashed his lights, the trucker moved right and Ray passed him cleanly. He looked over at Brooke and sighed.
Maybe she was just a mixed up kid looking for a new life.
A canlı bahis new life. The words darkened his mood. He thought about the last time he had seen his wife. They had had a love affair that lasted twenty years. He could still feel her body last time they fucked, her kiss as they parted in the morning, the police knocking at his door…
“This car got satellite radio?” said Brooke, suddenly awake and breaking Ray’s reverie.
“Um, it’s got a radio,” answered Ray flatly.
Brooke took that as an invitation to turn it on, and fiddle with the knobs. She soon found that all of the channels in this area were either country music or religious.
Ray looked up through the windshield and grimaced. The sky had clouded up and darkened; and was a storm moving in from the west. With no hills or trees to block the view, he could see the rain was still a long way off. He pressed his foot down a little on the pedal to get a few more miles down the road while the pavement was dry.
Brooke found a station playing a song with a male vocalist that sounded exactly like every country song Ray had ever heard. Evidently bored, she turned it down to background level and sat back in the seat to watch miles of nothing fly by.
“Not your thing?” Ray asked.
“No,” said Brooke, as she picked at a nail.
The car’s tires broadcast the pock-pock-pock of highway expansion joints that synchronized with the country music on the radio. Hay fields and corn rows blurred by in a stream of yellow and tan.
Brooke rolled her head and watched Ray drive. He was an active driver. She watched his muscled forearm reach for the white ball and shift decisively, while expertly operating the clutch and gas pedals. He was one with the machine, and driven with purpose.
“Ray, do you mind if I ask where you are headed?” asked Brooke.
Ray glanced at Brooke and said, “I’m headed to Wyoming for some business. I know a guy there, and I own him something.” Ray showed no emotion as he concentrated on the driving, but there was intensity in his voice, a harshness that belied the innocence of his answer.
Brooke paused a second and asked, “What business are you in, Ray?”
“My business.” Ray replied flatly.
Brooke rolled her eyes and asked, “Do you have a phone?”
Ray looked over at her and said, “Yes. You don’t?”
“No,” she replied, “Can I use yours?”
“No,” he said.
The first drops of rain splattered on the windshield and Ray noticed the cars coming in the opposite direction had their wipers on. Ray turned on his headlights and wipers. Brooke put her hand on the passenger window absently tracing the rivulets as the rain increased.
“Ray, have you ever been out of the country?” Brooke asked absently.
“Yes, Germany, Kuwait and Iraq,” responded Ray.
Brooke nodded as if another piece to the puzzle had been confirmed. She continued,”Did it affect your relationships when you returned?”
Ray looked over at Brooke, realizing he might have just learned what the girl was running from. He replied, “No, Brooke. Not like it does for some.”
The windshield wipers were not keeping up as the rain pounded the Duster’s windshield. They were near Salina, so Ray decided to pull the car off the road. There was a small cluster of buildings grouped around two gas stations on the right. Lightening flashed as bright as day as they pulled into the Busby’s family restaurant parking lot.
“Listen, Ray,” said Brooke. “I really don’t have any money.”
They were sitting across from each other in a booth with cracked red vinyl seats. Ray gave Brooke a hard look over the laminated menu card. The rain still beat a tattoo on the roof that echoed around in the nearly empty restaurant, and he paused a bit before responding.
“OK, Brooke. I’ll buy you dinner.” he said, and looked down at his menu.
When their meal was delivered, Ray watched Brooke tuck in her food like a starving refugee. Ray said, “Brooke, I am heading north tomorrow, so this is the place where you can find a new ride west if you want.
Brooke paused with her burger in two hands, and a smear of ketchup on her cheek and looked at Ray with her mouth full. A brief look of doubt and helplessness crossed her face. Blue light filled the restaurant for a moment, followed by a crack of thunder a few seconds later.
“Awe, crap,” said Ray glancing at the rain streaked windows. “There is a motel across the street, and I’m going to get a room there. You are welcome to share the room for tonight. You can figure out what you want to do, in the morning.”
The two ate in silence as the remaining diners filed out. He couldn’t be responsible for her any longer. He needed to get rid of her soon, because where he was going- she just couldn’t be there.
Ray had pulled up in front of Room 11 at the the Wayward Motel. It was an L-shaped, single story structure with twenty-four units. There were only two other cars parked near the building. Brooke guessed one belonged to the night clerk. She watched bahis siteleri Ray jog through the rain to the bright neon ‘Vacancy’ sign to check in.
While she was waiting for Ray to return with the key, she nosed around in the interior. The car didn’t have many places to stash stuff, but it DID have a glove compartment in the dash which she was surprised to find unlocked. When the door flopped down, there was no interior light, but she could see the butt end of a handgun with a checkered stock in the dimly lit space.
Brooke glanced over and saw Ray jogging back from the office. Oh shit! She slammed the glove compartment closed. Ray veered to the back of the car and popped the trunk. He retrieved a bag and walked to the motel room door with the key in hand. He stopped at the half open door, looked back at Brooke, and waved at her to join him.
Brooke looked at the glove compartment for a few seconds, then opened the car’s door, grabbed her pack and dashed to the open room 11.
Ray had stripped off his shirt and was turned with his back to the girl when she entered the room. He had a zippered case in his hand, and an old fashioned gym bag with ‘Wilson’ on the side that sat open on the first bed.
Brooke set her pack on the second bed and watched Ray brush his teeth at the sink outside of the bathroom. His back was uniformly tan, mostly hairless and surprisingly well muscled for a man of his age. He reminded her of her dad, except for a few scars evident on his shoulders and lower back. Something churned in her gut and a little shot of adrenaline coursed through her.
“I’ll be just a few minutes,” said Ray as he grabbed a towel from the chrome rack by the sink and closed the bathroom door behind him. A minute later, Brooke could hear the shower running.
She sat down on the corner of the bed. She had no place to go and no money to get there if she did. She was trapped in this shitty motel room in the middle of nowhere. ‘He wants to fuck me,’ she thought. ‘He EXPECTS to fuck me.’
The shower stopped and a few minutes later, Ray stepped out with tousled hair and the bath towel wrapped around his waist. “Your turn,” he said casually with a half smile.
Brooke jumped from the bed, dashed into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. She glanced down, flipped the door lock and shook the handle to make sure it was solid- then stepped back and removed her clothes.
Lukewarm water ran down Brooke’s body and raised goosebumps everywhere it touched. She hung her head under the shower head and watched runnels trickle down her chest and launch off her nipples like downspouts on a rainy day. It took a while to lather up with that tiny bar of soap, but it eventually made it between her legs. Brooke quivered as she touched her clit. She could sense her core temperature rising and spreading warmth all over her body.
As she toweled off, Brooke thought about Ray. Her original assessment hadn’t changed much. He was just a decent looking, older guy with some issues. Maybe a little risky, but nothing she couldn’t handle. But, he was still just a guy with a dick and would probably do anything for a little pussy. ‘Yeah,” Brooke thought, ‘He can have me tonight and then I’ll own him.’
Brooke wrapped herself up in the thin motel towel, unlocked the door and stepped out of the bathroom.
Ray was gone.
A wave of dread gripped her. Did he just dump her in the middle of nowhere? One of the beds was messed up but his bag was gone. Holy shit! She rushed to the window and spread open the blinds with one hand as she struggled to keep the towel around her with the other hand.
The green Duster was still parked out in front of the room. Brooke immediately felt the pressure in her head release. She squinted through the grubby window and the steady rain; and dropped the towel so she could use both hands to hold the blinds open. Then she started laughing.
Ray was sleeping in the back seat of the car with a pillow and blanket borrowed from the motel room.
Brooke stood in the living room watching a cable news channel. The talking head was imploring everyone to get away as fast as they can because ‘big trouble’ was coming. She couldn’t figure out exactly what ‘big trouble’ meant. Was it war or famine or disease? Her father called out from the lazy-boy in the corner, “There is a storm moving in from the west.” Suddenly, there was a knock at the front door. Can’t let him in, because big trouble is coming. Then she heard a key inserted in the lock and the knob turned…
Brooke woke with a start. Ray flicked the window blinds wide open and bright sunshine streamed into the room. “Morning, sunshine,” he said. The girl covered her eyes and groaned, oblivious to the fact that she was buck naked and the bed covers had fallen away exposing her to anyone who might walk by.
Ray was sitting on the other bed and wisps of steam rose from his paper coffee cup. He sipped calmly as he watched Brooke struggle to wake up. The beauty of her smooth skin and toned legs was bahis şirketleri not lost on him.
Suddenly, Brooke leapt from the bed and grabbed sheets to cover herself. “You Perv!” she shouted, suddenly offended by his presence.
“I brought you coffee and a pastry,” said Ray as he nodded over to the night stand between the beds. His face wore a bemused expression, and he politely averted his eyes.
Brooke was befuddled. Her objection was melting away and now she was feeling indignant for another reason. Ray had the opportunity to take ever bit of her last night, but he didn’t. Now he was plying her with coffee, doughnuts and civility? Fuck that noise!
She dropped the sheets entirely and spread her arms wide. The low sun streaming in through the blinds make horizontal stripes of bright light across her skin. She resolved to let him see everything he missed last night.
Assured she had captured his eyes, Brooke sauntered slowly past Ray to the bathroom. Ray drank her in from head to toe.
She closed the door behind her, and a few seconds later, a tinkling noise came from within.
“Oh, God no!” Ray said emphatically.
“Seriously, yeah,” said Brooke. “At first I was a little insulted that you ignored me, but then I thought- ‘He must be gay!'”
Ray laughed. “No, I can assure you. I like girls -er- women… oh Hell, you know what I mean.”
Brooke giggled and then asked more seriously, “So what’s up with you, Ray?”
Ray struggled a little and then said, “I’ve had a lot on my mind recently.” He paused a few seconds and then added, “Besides, it wouldn’t be right, I think. I’m old enough to be your father. I mean, I AM flattered that a girl like you would want to be with me, but, but… “
“Would you be worried about a WOMAN like me wanting to be with a BOY like you?” asked Brooke, grinning.
Ray smiled back at Brooke and said, “Well, I guess we’re all just 25 in our own minds.”
“You listen up, mister!” Brooke said pointing a crooked finger mischievously at Ray’s nose. “When you see me naked again, I would appreciate you being appreciative!”
With a sparkle in his eye, Ray said, “I will look forward to the opportunity.”
A red light popped up on Ray’s dash and he glanced at the supplemental gauges bolted on below. The big 340 was running hot. The Duster’s engine was original equipment and it burned a little oil.
He looked over at Brooke and said, “It’s time for a pit stop. We’re way past Grand Island and too far from Broken Bow to wait, so look for a place to pull over.”
Brooke caught sight of a roadhouse with a gravel parking lot up ahead, so Ray slowed down and rolled onto the far edge of the lot. He killed the engine and looked over at the sign that said “Ruby’s” spelled out in red neon. There were a dozen vehicles parked in front, mainly pickups. Ray shook his head and said, “Man, I can’t imagine where they get the business out here.”
Brooke popped out on the passenger’s side and called over the roof to Ray, “Hey Ray, can I borrow a twenty? I’d like to get a drink.”
Still feeling a little guilty about being called out earlier, he said, “Sure, sure. Knock yourself out.” He tossed a twenty dollar bill over the roof of the car. Brooke, squealed, grabbed the money and skipped up to Ruby’s. Ray opened his trunk, pulled out a box of tools and started work on his car.
Ray slammed the hood closed on the Duster, picked up the empty oil quarts and placed them in his box. He carried it all back to the trunk and wiped his hands off before closing the lid. (He figured they’d be good for another few hundred miles.)
He looked over at Ruby’s. It was almost dark now and there were even more cars now. The music was louder, but all he could hear was thumping bass. Well, it was time to retrieve Brooke and get back on the road, so he crunched over the gravel to the front door of the roadhouse.
There was a smaller sign next to the door that read, ‘Please be Gentlemanly.’ Ray thought that seemed like an odd thing to ask for at a road house. He pushed open the smoked glass door and ran almost directly into a pleasantly fat woman with bright red hair. Her name tag said ‘Ruby.’ She was sitting on a bar stool in front of a matte black curtain. She looked at Ray and said mechanically, “That will be ten dollars, please.”
“Huh, what for?” asked Ray.
“That’s the cover charge,” said Ruby with a quick, disingenuous smile.
Ray grumbled but paid anyway because he knew Brooke was in there. He handled the bill to Ruby and brushed past her and through the curtains.
The room was much larger than he was expecting and he was hit in the face with the smell of Patchouli and spilled beer. “You Shook Me All Night Long” was playing too loudly on the their music system, and most of the crowd was clustered up around a stage of sorts at the back wall.
As it dawned on him this was a strip club, a naked woman walked by on her hands with tits pointed at the floor, who managed to grunt out “Welcome to Ruby’s!” As he stumbled through the darkened sitting area looking for an unclaimed table, another girl, topless but with a skirt, came by with a tray to take his drink order. He had a very expensive beer in his hand before he sat down.
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