Serial Saturday: Road Trip, Part 11

JT sat in the passenger seat of Israel’s old Pontiac, bouncing for a long while on whipped shocks after they hit a pothole and wondering if she’d made a mistake. She leaned forward and pulled the Saint Christopher’s medal hanging from the rear view mirror toward her slightly. “Where’d you get this car?” she asked.

“Stole it, back in Wyoming,” Israel replied.

JT stared at him, and after a few moments had passed without his seeming to notice, spoke. “You know I’m a convicted felon, right? I mean, we had that conversation this morning about you leaving your Glock behind so it couldn’t be found in the car with me.”

“Uh huh,” Israel replied absently, eyes still on the road.

“So what the fuck made you think it was a good idea for me to take a seven-hour drive in a stolen car?”

“Oh, that. Don’t worry. I stole it from an old man who hadn’t driven it in a year. He won’t even notice it’s gone, and if he does everyone will just think he got confused and forgot where he parked it.”

“How do you know that?”

Israel turned and gave her that unsettling smile he had. “Lucien.”

JT rubbed her temples. “You don’t even have a driver’s license, do you?”

“Of course not,” Israel replied. “I’ve been locked up in Kaycee for five years. But that hardly matters. If we get pulled over and I need to show it, they’ll ask for registration, too, and that won’t work out so well. That’s why I drive so carefully.”

JT leaned back and let her head fall against the headrest. “Jesus Christ.” She could tell Israel to pull over, but they were two hours from home on a quiet state highway.

“Relax. I drove across what, seven or eight states without getting pulled over. Just one to go.”

JT sighed and turned to look out the window just as they went past a sign reading “Port Henry 43 Miles”. So they’d be crossing into Vermont soon, and it also appeared that Israel knew where he was going. She’d wondered, for a while, if they were just going to end up in Canada, the way Israel had been staying off the interstates. He’d talked quite a bit about his days in the North Country during the drive, when he’d roamed Vermont and the Adirondacks on the business of the society, and maybe it hadn’t all been bullshit.

“I gotta take a piss,” she said. “Find a gas station or something, and I’ll start driving.”

“Time for lunch anyway,” Israel said. “There’s a great restaurant not far from here. Or at least there was eight or ten years ago.”


They went right past several places that seemed pretty decent to JT, and Israel finally pulled up outside a place that looked like it was half falling over. Most of the paint had peeled off the weathered walls, and a blue tarp covering a patch of the roof flapped in the breeze. There was a sign, reading “Blodgett’s”, leaning tiredly over the door.

“I think they closed since you were here last,” JT said.

“Nah, it always looks like this,” Israel said, opening his door. “They even got a new tarp.” He got out and stretched, and JT opened her door. She was wearing an old work shirt. It was a little warm for the day, even unbuttoned, but it did a good job of concealing the tomahawk in her shoulder holster. She checked it, along with the knife sheathed at the small of her back behind her shirt tail, and followed Israel toward the door.

The place was open, as a little sign on the door proclaimed, and a bell over it jingled as Israel led the way in. The interior of the little restaurant was dingy, with décor that looked to date from the 70’s, but it looked reasonably clean at least. There was only one other patron in the place, and old man hunched over a plate of meatloaf and cup of coffee. He looked up and stared with frank fascination at JT and Israel as they made their way to a table. It could have been Israel’s tattoo, or her hair, but she had a feeling that the guy just wasn’t used to seeing anyone else in the dining room.

Israel chose a little table against the wall, one that would give them both a reasonable view of anyone approaching, and sat, taking off his stupid hat.

“Well, this place has hardly changed,” he said, looking around.

JT followed his gaze, taking in the scuffed floors, ancient furniture, and fading photos of generic wilderness scenes on the wall. “That so,” she said dryly, and jerked her head toward the wall behind the massive cash register near the door. “I think that calendar is from 1983.”

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Israel replied, then looked up with a smile as a tired-looking woman approached with two laminated menus. She didn’t seem fazed by the sight of Israel’s grin, which indicated a certain amount of grit in JT’s opinion.

“So what’s good here?” she asked Israel as she left.

“I believe I’m going to get the chicken-fried steak,” he replied.

JT sighed. “You’re really not in much of a hurry, are you?”

“Well, you know, they fed us well, back in Kaycee, but it got a little same-y after a few years. I admit I’ve been savoring my meals, lately.”

JT shook her head. “Fine. Order me one too, if she comes back.” She stood. “Scream if anything comes after you.”

“Will do,” Israel said, fishing the dessert menu from behind the sugar container.

The restroom was down a short flight of steps that was at the end of a hallway that ran past the quiet kitchen, a little room lit by a bare bulb with a door that was held closed by a little hook and eye latch. It wasn’t a place that invited lingering, but she stayed for a few moments after she’d washed her hands, staring at herself in the wavery mirror. Trying to see something in her own face that would explain why she’d come along on this trip, maybe. At last, she sighed and turned to discover that the restroom actually had one of those continuous loop towel things. It was like the whole damn place had been transported in from 1972. Except of course, if that had happened, it would have looked a little newer. She popped open the hook and clumped up the stairs and back down the hallway and into the dining room, then froze.

Bryce looked up from where he sat at a table perusing the menu and gave her a lazy smirk.

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on June 18, 2011.