Authors: Emma Browning
West or North he told me. Nevada or Montana. That’s where he knows the people who can keep us “under the radar” for a few days. Or a few weeks.
I’ve never even left North Carolina. Hell, I’ve barely left the forty-five-minute radius of my apartment. My old apartment. I’d kill to be back in that apartment now. Back to chasing an easier life, getting a job and living like a normal human being. Why did I have to get mixed up with
guy? Why did he have to take me to that cabin? Why is he so dangerously HOT?
“Watch out for that car. Jesus,” I say as he screams past another one. I’m fully on edge. “I thought we were supposed to be keeping calm and not raising any suspicion for a few days?”
“I got it,” he says.
We’ve been going ninety down this highway for about an hour towards Mt Airy. I need to go to the bathroom, am totally starving and I really just want to get out and stretch since we’ve been on the road for a while now.
“Can we stop and get something to eat? I’m about to perish over here. And I’m sure Bear wants out of that cramped back seat.”
“Definitely, baby cakes. Next exit, we’re there,” says Tyson, smiling in my direction. “How’d you sleep?”
How can he be smiling and so happy right now? He just shot and killed a man a few hours ago. Is he demented or something?
“I didn’t get any sleep, but it was nice to close my eyes for a little while and not hear bullets landing so close though.”
“I only hit my targets. No need to worry.”
“Easy for you to say. You’re not the one with bullets flying by your head,” I reply.
“Here’s the next exit,” he says whipping off the highway.
“So, where are you taking me,
?” I ask.
“Ever been to Montana,
?” he responds.
I fill him in on the tight radius I’m used to keeping and he jumps excitedly into the “beauty and the bounty” of Montana. I have no idea what “the bounty” is and I’m flooded with flashbacks of the tavern scene with Marcus yelling AHOY every chance he gets. “Sounds better than the desert,” I say.
“Montana it is,” he says. “Nevada sucks ass anyway.”
Nearly everything I own is in a backpack. I left behind all the furniture in the apartment, which were all college hand-me-downs anyway, and put the rest of my clothes in the hyper small trunk of this sports car. Luckily they didn’t get soaked by Francisco’s dishwasher flooding my shithole apartment.
“Why do you call me baby cakes anyway?” I finally inquire.
“Well, it’s because you’re not like the big cake that everybody gets a piece of. You’re the little baby cake that I keep for myself; the one that’s special. You know, like that first birthday party, there’s always a little baby cake, always reserved. Well, I guess I like to dream it’s my birthday and you’re my little baby cake.”
“That’s actually kind of cute,” I say. “But you don’t really know yet how that dream is going to end,
“Oh, I have some ideas about it,” he replies. “Here’s the store.”
When we get to a stop, I hit the store and then grab Bear for a walk. Tyson stays behind to “make some important calls”. There is a clearing behind the store and I see a path entering a dense coverage of trees. I take him there.
We walk for a few minutes and it gives me a chance to think. It’s been a crazy night and I haven’t even had a chance to collect my thoughts on what has happened. The question that comes to mind first:
should I just keep walking down this path and go wherever it takes me?
That’s a very entertaining thought at this point, but he did save me from rape and an almost certain painful death.
Do I at least owe him a chance to show me he can provide more than just his fists and guns? Will he get away from his military commitments or is he, well, is he going to be like my dad? On the road forever? Not there for his kids. I can’t have a man like that. I want to have kids. And have a dad who’s there for them. It’s just not right. I won’t let it happen.
When I get back, Tyson is still on the phone. I get Bear back into the car and walk over to where Tyson is standing. His back is to me. I hear him saying,” Yeah, we’ll be there in a few days. We’re moving fast, but will stop a few nights before we get to Big Sky… Yeah, I got the RS5. It’s totally sweet. Great for road trippin… See ya soon Cody… Love ya brother.”
He turns with a bigger than ever smile and asks me to take a deep breath. “Get some of that,” he says, “And make note of what it’s like. We’ll do that again when we get to Montana and I’ll be damned if you don’t notice the difference.”
“So, what are these grand ideas you have for me?” I inquire.
“Well, I just know that you like happy endings and that is what I intend to provide.”
“So, you mean your interpretation of the happy ending? You mean like Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Like the movie ending? Or, are you talking books with me?”
“I can do books or movies, you decide.”
“Well, that’s one thing we’ve got, but just don’t get too excited,” I say, “There aren’t too many happy endings in my life.”
“That’s all about to change, Kasey, I’ve got a good feeling about you. About us,” he responds.
“Yeah, well, I still have plenty of unanswered questions about you.”
“Get some rest now. We’ll have plenty of time to talk the next few days,” He reminds me.
Nothing fazes him. He’s so calm and confident. I’m beginning to see what Marcus said about him. He does get what he wants out of life, but it’s almost as if he is not even trying. As if things just come his way. And that smile- that gorgeous smile. Half of me wants to make him pull over and fuck me right now, but the other half is still pissed off at him for letting Cesar get to me. And for going away without notice in the first place. I remember my dad and my life without him. I can’t have that. That line’s been crossed. I won’t let it happen again.
I lay my head back into the seat and recline a little further. We drive a few more hours and the sun is finally coming up behind us. I still can’t sleep, but just lying back feels good. Soon it hits me that I don’t really have to worry about anything
and it feels good. At least for a little while. I’m on the road, will be for the next few days, and I’m away from all that happened last night. As foreign as it is for me to just pack up and leave like that, it feels oddly relieving. Like I’ve cut all ties and have a fresh new start. There’s a new future that I couldn’t see before and it’s out in front of me now. I can go anywhere… With or without Tyson.
But somehow I can’t get the thought out of my head:
Is this the beginning of my life on the road with Tyson?
It’s a nice day and the drive is a nice one through the mountains of West Virginia and into the hills of southeast Ohio. We get to Columbus and Tyson has had enough. He’s ready to stop and I definitely could use a shower, a bed and some better food. We hadn’t eaten much all day because Tyson was going ninety by all of the exits. The only thing we had were granola bars and Funyuns from the small convenience store when we stopped for gas. He tried to convince me that that’s all we needed to get through the day. Bullshit.
We pull off and head into downtown. Grab a hotel, drop off Bear and our stuff. I take a shower and it is honestly one of the best showers I have ever taken. I wash off last night’s crap and get into some comfortable jeans and a nice silky red shirt.
We walk down High St. There are plenty of bars and restaurants within view of the hotel and something big is going on at what looks like an arena on another street. We walk towards it and find there are several restaurants clustered together and mobs of people milling around, going into and out of the restaurants. Tyson grabs my hand and we walk together. It feels good. He is close, but the playfulness of him holding my hand gets me right away. I want his arm around me. We pass a Buca di Beppo and find ourselves in Gordon Biersch. We sit at the bar and are greeted pleasantly by the local barkeep. Tyson orders a “stiefel” of beer and I follow suit, not having any idea what a stiefel is.
Two boots full of beer come and we drink. His is half-drunk before I’m finished taking what I consider a gulp. We just look at each other and start laughing. I don’t know why I start laughing with him, but something is just funny about this moment. Like there is nothing else to do now but laugh.
Hell, we sure had been through a lot in the last day and this beer is really, I mean really, hitting the spot. I’m considering this, when I feel his hand on the outside and moving to the inside of my thigh. It is so unexpected, and
. I can’t help but lean towards him. I feel tingling all inside my thighs and pulsing ripples in-between. I stop laughing and look at him. He looks at me. One side of his mouth is still partly curled up, but the other has come down as if to confirm that our situation, however playful, is getting more serious. We both lean in just a little further. He looks delicious and I feel like I’ll die again looking into his eyes. My heart is pounding. I don’t think my chest can hold it much longer.
“Would you like to order some food tonight?”
What the hell is that? You have got to be kidding me.
“Yes sir, we’ve had a long day on the road and we just want to enjoy a few good drinks, put down a sandwich or two and then have a nice night on the town,” Tyson says.
The bartender winks and says, “I can help you with part of that.”
We take turns ordering sandwiches and Tyson adds, “We’ll take another pair of boots too”. Mine is still half full, but for some reason I take his order as a prompt and put down half of it in the next drink. Between the warmth of his hand and the frost of this beer, I’m really starting to feel better. But the moment is broken.
We return to conversation, have a nice dinner and walk out to the crowded plaza. This time his arm comes around my shoulders and I waste no time getting mine around his waist. We gather there is a concert at the arena because there are a lot of young girls around, some with parents, who clearly don’t want to be there, and some without. The underage crowd. We move quickly to get out of that scene and walk to the street to look for another bar. We see baseball fans also gathering and we follow some to see where they are going. When we get in view, we see a baseball stadium and a scoreboard that visibly displays a Columbus Clippers logo. Tyson says we’re doing it and I don’t object. I would probably do whatever he asks me to do at this point.
We find a patio off of the main concourse with some picnic tables. We can see the game from that view and we are close to the beer carts. Lots of people are around at other tables and some join us at our table too. We have a fun night watching the game and just chatting about this and that. I think we both realize we really don’t know very much about one another. We exchange lots of furtive glances through the night and make rounds of holding hands, touching arms, and otherwise poking and playing with each other.
And then it is time. The game is over and we are on our way back to the hotel. I’m covered all over with nervous anticipation for what might come next. I feel a light sweat build on my forehead and do my best to wipe it away so he doesn’t see. We turn the corner at High St and head back towards our hotel. The bar scene is in full effect and there are people milling on the sidewalks. As we’re talking, I accidentally bump into a kid who turns and says, “What the fuck?” He looks at Tyson next and says, “Dude, get control of your bitch.”
Tyson lets go of my hand. I unconsciously step back and feel that there is someone behind me. And on my sides. There are people all around now and they’ve taken notice that the kid is rather upset. His buddy jumps in now too and says, “Yeah man, watch where you’re going, Fuckhead.”
I see Tyson’s fists start to curl and his arms tense up. His shoulders get tight and they are practically coming through the back of his shirt right now. I would normally be scared to death and running the other direction, but I don’t feel that now. Somehow I just feel… calm.
The kid I bumped into is short. Just a little taller than me. Probably eighteen or nineteen. He is slim and wears a white tank top. His jeans hang low and are only hanging on because of the large black belt around them. A red bandana hangs from his back pocket. He’s dark-skinned. Maybe black. Or maybe some other African ancestry. He has a hardened look. Like he’s been on the street for a while.
His friend is taller and bigger, and appears no less hardened. These are not the kind of guys I want to be making friends with. He too has a red bandana hanging from his back pocket. They both are heavily tattooed and wear nose and ear rings. Kind of a cross between the Red Hot Chili Peppers and what I imagine to be street kids from New York.
“Away from the girl,” I hear Tyson say.
As the two step closer to Tyson, he suddenly attacks, and with ferocity. The short kid goes down first and Tyson is standing in front of the bigger kid calmly sizing him up. The short kid is visibly dazed and crawls back further. It is between Tyson and the big kid now.
The kid takes a swing wildly and misses. Tyson returns favor and knocks him down hard. Blood pours from the gash on his eyebrow. That’s it. Two swings, two kids down. It’s over and Tyson turns to me and motions that we need to be going. I don’t think I can get used to this motioning to leave business. This is the second time. When we turn to walk toward the hotel, the short kid is holding a gun, waving it around and laughing at Tyson.
The kid waves the gun towards the sky and back at Tyson while saying, “You better watch your fucking step, bro. You’ll be up there in a hurry.”
People scatter in all directions. I can’t move. I can’t feel my feet or my legs. I’m numb.
The big kid is up on his feet again. He says something fast in Spanish which I can’t understand and motions the short kid to back up. I look at Tyson. He is frozen too. He doesn’t speak.
And then I hear the shot.