Monday, August 7, 2017



                                                    The Confidence of Strangers


She couldn’t get the answers she wanted, so she fled, left her baby with her husband while trying not to think ill of herself.   She drove all night.  It felt good to be alone for once, no squawking infant, no berating husband calling her names like filthy and whale and beluga whale.

She had breakfast at a diner that smelled of bacon grease, toast and ammonia.  It looked like something out of the fifties, the waitress with her red and white gingham checked dress. 

A man at another booth kept staring at her.  It felt odd and unsettling but also refreshing.  It’d been a long time since anyone had seemed to notice her.

After a while, he came over and slid across the slick plastic seat on the opposite side.  He did this without asking permission, which was something her husband would have done, though now she welcomed the confidence of this stranger.

“You aren’t from around here, are you?”

She nodded.  It had been over a day since she’d uttered a single sound and still she didn’t feel like speaking, not yet.

“You the mysterious type?”

She nodded no again.

“Shy then, I see.”

She was shy when she was a young girl, easily trampled and fooled.  She went mute for two whole years and her mother made her pay for her silence each of those days.  Her mother’s favorite weapons were hat pins and a man’s long, leather belt.

The stranger watched her eat, staring as if she was performing a magic trick or something even more provocative such as masturbating for his pleasure.

When he started to introduce himself, she held up her hand like a stop sign.  No names.

After the waitress brought her check, the stranger withdrew his wallet and paid.  It was clear he wanted something in return and she wasn’t sure if she would oblige him.  Going out the diner, he took her hand in his.  Holding hands.  It made her feel girlish and wanted.

“You smell good.  Like flowers.”

She knew she didn’t, that he was making it up, but she didn’t care.

She walked with him through the parking lot toward the rear where they came to a large semi.

“This is mine.  I call her Pearl.”

The vehicle’s exterior was surprisingly clean given the winter slush on the roads.

“Wanna hop in?”

When he opened the door, she grabbed a handle and pulled herself up and the stranger got in on the other side and they both closed their doors.

“I like your sense of adventure.”

She wasn’t sure how this would play out, nor did she allow her mind to process any of the potential consequences. 

“Well, what’ll we do now?” he said, grinning, eager.

Behind the seats was a small area she guessed he used for sleeping on long drives.  He pulled the curtain aside and motioned and she went there with him.

He was gentle yet frantic, his mouth and fingers everywhere all at once.  He kept saying, “God but you’re a stunner.”

She climaxed without making a sound.  Silence was the only real weapon she possessed. 

He took out his wallet and handed her fifty dollars.  She must have looked surprised because he pulled out two fives.

“I run through here every second Tuesday,” he said.  “I hope to see you again.”

She left the truck without fanfare and walked to her car not feeling anything, or feeling dull and dead again.  The pleasure she’d felt now seemed like a trick, so fleeting.

She got out and paced back and forth in front of the diner.  It didn’t take more than thirty minutes before a stranger came out and said, “You looking for a date?”

When she nodded, he took her hand.

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