A woman and child are closer to trouble than they realize. Inspired by a contest prompt.
|}The Tire Change. A short tale.
Driving route 77, for over a hundred miles, Danielle was finally getting away. She had custody now. Ellie, small, young, lie peaceful, sleeping, curled in a plush warm blanket next to her. And like her daughter, arriving at her sister's home in Corpus Christi, would also afford her a chance, to rest and catch her breath.
As the day drew long, she began the somber re-consideration of her wisdom to have started, so late in the day, as the already dim twilight was shortened further by the encroaching darkness of a storm she could see rising just ahead. With over a hundred miles to go the rain began to wet the dark pavement.
Then, as she rounded a curve the sudden bang and shudder of the car, jolted her attention to the controlling of the vehicle. Ellie, dazed, shaken and rubbing her eyes awoke, sitting up, as Danielle managed to stop the car on the shoulder.
"Its OK baby, Mommy thinks she has a flat."
It was pouring now and the last light of day coming over the mountains was fading. She calls her sister first, then the car service, a number she gets from her.
They say it be a couple of hours.
Danielle and Ellie began settling in for the long wait, when there was a hard knock at her window making them both jump. She couldn't see out well. So after cracking the window she yelled out,
A heavy voice answered back. "We see you got a blowout back here, Ma'am. If you got a spare, me and my boy here will change it for ya and git you on your way."
She welcomed the words, but what she saw through the crack concerned her.
Her daddy was a gun enthusiast and guns were around her, most of her life, so she recognized the Browning bolt action rifle the boy was carrying, and its being held in a ready position, finger covering the trigger. Then in her side mirror as the man went to the trunk, she noticed he had only a tank-top undershirt on under an open heavy raincoat.
She popped the trunk hood.
As she waited, It occurred to her that on this stretch of road she hadn't seen any indications of a home anywhere in the last half hour. Her concerns grew to anxiety. Who were these guys she wondered, and where had they come from? And why were they out here?
"Mommy!", Ellie said.
"I'm scared, what are they doing?"
Danielle feeling the same, but saying to her, "They are helping us baby,--its OK, try to go back to sleep."
She eased her own mind choosing to believe, they were probably just camping and took a relieving deep breath. Twenty minutes passed and finished with the tire, the man, after closing the trunk, comes to the window.
"Your good now Ma'am. You git home safe now, ya hear".
Relieved, she thanks the man offering him money of which he doesn't take.
As the car drove away and the rain fell, the man and the boy stared at it for a few more moments, then continue to cross the road. The boy trudging through some water at the shoulders edge, asked the man.
"Pa, why didn't we take her?"
"Why?", "We decent folk boy. You saw her... she had a child with her. But, Don't you worry none, they'll be another. There's always another. But, be of good cheer. You did good boy! Your shot was true."
And the two disappeared into the black of night... to wait, for another.
Dayna Ferguson 4-6-/17