One for the Road
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One For the Road
Jamie was dismayed to see the sudden change in the beguiling woman’s features. She became hard-faced and only too wary of him and cast but a moment’s disinterested look his way.
She was sitting alone, her leather jacket slung over the back of the chair next to her and he had soon taken in her denim blouse that hung loose over a normal, soft cream T-shirt that shaped her fulsome figure only too well. He reckoned plenty of guys would come on to her if they got the slightest encouragement.
She’d been alone at her table for some time. He’d taken that in almost from the off, the moment he had entered the roadside diner and he had looked about the echoing seated dining area, faded posters of local scenes spaced out along the walls.
The place was emptying fast; cat calls and laughter echoing in the vast, gaudily decorated space. The drivers, those that remained, were making it obvious that they would soon be heading out to their rigs in the parking lot and, on a few cheery farewells, would head off once more along their chosen routes.
‘Now’s as good a time as any,’ he said quietly, mustering the courage to go and talk to her.
The omens did not look promising, given her scowl at him for paying her overt attention, and for longer than now seemed wise; but he was intent on asking her if she would agree to him being taken on to the next big town. His earlier ride, to get here, had plans that did not fit in with his own; so, he had been dropped off before the truck pulled away on a deep roar of its diesel, and he had been left in the parking lot and with his options fading fast.
He had to prevail on someone else to help him get back on his way.
She flicked away at the tumble of curly, auburn red hair; its curls seeming to take on a life of their own as she did that. A thin pony tail hung to one side of her face, matched by unruly strands on the other.
‘Don’t even ask, mister. The answer’s no…’ she told him, on raising a hand to silence him, and in an uncompromising, brittle voice. ‘I have a long night ahead of me and a drive back to the depot through tomorrow…after drop offs along the way. I don’t need any complications…get me?’
‘Sure, but I haven’t spoken a word…’
‘You didn’t have to, mister…’
‘And here I was thinking you Yanks were so polite and the listening sort…if only for a while.’ Jamie hitched up his small, but bulging, haversack onto his shoulder once more. He had let one strap slide down his arm as he neared the woman’s table.
He saw her wipe at her lips with a napkin; to look down and see the rouge smeared upon it; he took in the neat, square cut of her white varnished fingernails; the flick at her hair once more, that revealed jangly earrings. She finally looked back at him.
‘Where are you headed, or doesn’t it matter so much? Everything’s going just fine just as long as you’re rollin’…on the move…one highway much the same as any another. Have I got that right?’
Jamie now smiled at her, saw the woman take a closer interest in him, which was a start. He pointed at the chair facing her. ‘May I sit down for a moment, please?’
‘Polite, aren’t you?’ she offered, smirking a smile at him. ‘I’m listening…’
‘My name’s James Appleton…’
‘And you’re sure, as heck, not from these parts with that accent of yours…’
‘How clever of you to notice. I’m from Oxford way…in the ukay.’
‘Even I’ve heard of it, you know?’
She had tilted her head in enquiry and met his look upon her. This Jamie fella wouldn’t see so much of her to wind his clock, she supposed, and he was way too young to go getting her interest up in him, sharp as he was with his lean face and the short cut on that head of sandy brown hair he’d been blessed with. She’d gone so far as to take in what he wore; a black denims combo along with a sky-blue V-neck T, the usual gear, with boots of some kind, so he was clearly intent on taking to the roads and chancing it. That was not something that she would recommend on strangers, and lone ones at that.
‘I’ve had my eyes opened about your country, er…’
She sighed, felt her earlier resolve slipping away on account of his easy ways and looks on her, It sure as hell had been a while since anyone had reallydone that. ‘Lucy…Lucille Andersen. It will soon be my rig out there on the lot all on its own.
It’s time I went…got rollin’…James…or is it Jamie?’
He saw her glance at a large watch on her strong wrists. It vied with leather wrist bands, some beaded; items that she wore on each arm.
‘You’d have some company, Lucy…if I was to ride along with you.’
‘Who says I need that, Jamie?’
‘Just a thought,’ he shrugged. ‘I’ll let you into a secret…’
‘Don’t, I’m not into that way of it anymore…’ she said glaring at him in warning, as she had done before.
‘I wish you didn’t look at me like that…it takes what you have away.’
‘Don’t go getting fresh, mister Jamie…’
Hee yalova escort had seen Lucy suppress a smile. He now watched as she cast all the rubbish of her meal onto the tray and made to stand up.
‘My girlfriend, and two others who I travelled out with for a two-month tour…they split from me…did that a while back now, so I pushed on alone.’
‘Too bad, but why are you telling me all of this?’
‘I wasn’t going to let a shake-out, in that part of my life, wreck what I wanted to see of your country…risky as it is. So, I reckoned, if I get to ride a few wagons and move from town to town…state to state, I’ll be safer and achieve my aim at the same time…’
Jamie sat back and waited on her to react.
He sipped at a bottle of water, was soon seen to screw the cap back on, way too tight. He saw Lucy look away. He had seen the set of her mouth as she seemed to be thinking over what he had revealed to her of his situation. He couldn’t miss how her breasts pushed out the front of her T, their heavy rounded firmness and the hint of a nipple stretching the fabric.
Lucy was a big woman, but she carried no fat, or excess weight on her, Back home they’d call her buxom, and she would bring to a man more than his hands could hold.
‘We’ll see how this goes. Follow me out to my rig while you tell me what your plans are…okay?’
‘Yes, thank you.’
Jamie hesitated for only a moment. He would have to go with it, but it would sure be of some help to know where she was going to be driving him and her gleaming rig, a long trailer with the driver’s cab, and rest box behind it, on a multi wheeled chassis. The exhaust stacks were polished to an unreal brightness, the whole rig spotlessly clean. Lucy sure took pride in it, he took to thinking.
The woman before him, who was almost as tall as him at just under six foot, studied her rig with a practised eye. She turned quickly and met his appraising stare upon her.
‘Are you through doin’ that, Jamie…givin’ me the eye? You’ll get me thinkin’ this isn’t such a good idea after all…’
‘Sorry,’ he sighed. ‘I just picked you out in the eaterie back there because I reckoned underneath the defensive look a kinder heart was beating…
She slapped at his arm. ‘Don’t bullshit me…Anglo!’ Lucy realised that the way that Jamie looked back at her that he’d gone and spoken out the truth of it. ‘Jeez, you sure make it difficult for me…’
‘And you’re in control. If I step out of line, Lucy…you just stop and tell me to sling my hook…’
‘Is that another one of your Anglo sayings?’
‘I could have said it another ways,’ he grinned.
‘Come on. We’re headed to the fresh vegetable states and picking up, delivering…and picking up some more before I head back to my depot…’
‘So, it’s Iowa and Nebraska…maybe South Dakota?’
‘Yes, clever you…’
‘Well, this way I’ll see something of the country.’
‘Count on it, Anglo man…but it may not all be with me driving you. Got that straight, Jamie?’
‘I sure have…Lucy.’
Right then, Jamie didn’t care as long as he kept on going. He had secured a ride, and the woman looked good enough for him not to reject the offer, of her help, out of hand. He had been alone too long to have that bother him now.
He liked what was to be seen of her, along with Lucy’s sparky nature.
As some would have it, you don’t go looking at the mantle-piece when you’re poking the fire.
After her initial reservations about him, and what she had been persuaded to do, Jamie discovered that Lucy liked to talk, so he gave her space to do that. He listened attentively to her as, from time to time, he followed their progress on the sat nav console set to one side of the steering wheel and above the clutter of dials on the dash, having to peer round, and breathe in her scent, as he did so. Or he would check his iPhone and the scrolling map displayed on that irreplaceable piece of kit.
He guarded it as if his life depended on it, which it might.
‘I began as a driver in a team and the risks that brought me…not knowing who I’d be with and where they came from…if they were psychos. But I stuck to it through the early days, then months of my marriage. My husband was doing the same, but we never could afford to buy our own rig or start a business….as times went by.’ Her voice trailed away, and Lucy gave a phlegmatic shrug of the shoulders when she caught him look her way under the lights of vehicles they met. ‘There were spells in between when we rarely saw each other, and it all fell apart a couple of years back…we split up…I got my small place from my mother when she passed on. Now here I am, driving the highways at all hours of the day and night…eating in diners…and with no quality time, as folks would say it.’
‘Meeting and greeting people you’ll never see again…or hitchhikers from a place far away…like I am.’
Lucy turned down the radio on a half turn of the dial. ‘I broke a golden yalova escort bayan rule of mine in doing that…Anglo.’
He took to her nick name for him, there and then. ‘Thank you…although, when I s aw that look you gave me when I came over to your table, I wasn’t so sure I’d persuade you…’
‘It’s gone okay so far, Jamie…’ He again met her smile in the blinding light of vehicles coming towards them. Lucy shielded her eyes. ‘That arsehole has them all burning!’ she yelled out as if forgetting that he was there beside her.
‘Jeez!’ Jamie exclaimed. She had pulled the cord to activate the full force of the air horns fixed on the cab roof above his head. She wanted to let rip as the trucks passed each other on the highway. ‘Warn me before you do that again!’
They laughed together and glanced each other’s way as they did that. Jamie thought that they were getting along just fine, now. He even dared to think they were bonding and that her loneliness, and his need for a ride, would bring them closer, maybe even get to sharing the heat the longer they were together.
‘I’m glad you agreed to let me come along for a spell,’ he told her and on taking out a small camera.
‘Hey, now what are you doin’?’ she cried out, in a voice that he was learning held a command or reproof. ‘Na…na…no pictures of me driving this rig…you got that?’
‘Just a few of the inside then, Lucy…the lights on the dash and the colours of the walls and floor…okay? They are something else to my ways of seeing them. You’ve decorated your rig just fine…it’s a reminder.’
‘Go on, then’ she sighed almost theatrically.
They were settled into the cruise and the road’s surface could just be felt through the tractor-unit’s suspension, the throaty roar of the large power unit, she managed so adeptly, heard only too clearly. He had seen the tall, polished stacks gleam in the late afternoon sunshine as they walked to the rig and after she had agreed on him travelling along with her.
She was feeling uncommonly happy, for a change, with a man, even if he was way too young to go thinking of him in any other way than uncomplicated company. But he sure did look at her and what she’d bring to his touch if she ever thought to go nearly so far with a complete stranger and let him in. She’d never played it fast and loose.
‘Are we getting close to a pull in?’ His bladder was achingly full, and he’d kept from asking it for the last hour, such was his engagement with her, the truck’s behaviour and the trailer behind, but also in the passing, darkening scenery. He was struck by the remoteness of it and the road stretching out into the distance, like a white ribbon pulled taut, before they came to a slow bend.
‘You need a pee?’ she said without the slightest hesitation. ‘I drive trucks…so nothing so basic fazes me.’
‘You guessed it, yes I do,’ he answered on a disbelieving laugh, as he met her look his way for only an instant.
‘Why do you think I’m hauling so much space along with me?’ Lucy wondered how he could not have just got up and taken a piss. She pointed behind her. ‘Go into the sleeper cab area, but just hold onto the grab handles in case something comes at us…’
Jamie swivelled in his seat, after releasing the lock lever. ‘Trucks with sleeper cabs…my curiosity is about to be satisfied. I’ve read up on them and seen the pictures.
Now I’m in one for real…’
‘For as far as we go,’ she reminded him.
‘Yes…don’t you go letting me forget that for a moment, will you?’
‘Have to, mister. I’m not driving a tour bus…and it took me quite a while, and my marriage, to succeed in this.’
‘Quite so and I’m sorry…but I never asked that you drove just to please me but to help me out, which you have.’ Jamie took his iPhone with him but shrugged off his windcheater. ‘Want me to bring you anything?’
‘Sure, thanks…water out of the fridge. There are bottles in there, so take what you want while you’re there.’
‘Okay, thank you…’ he told her with studied politeness.
‘You’re welcome,’ she said on an answering laugh. Lucy flicked a switch on the dash so that soft red night-vision lighting came on in the quarters behind the driver’s cab.
‘That may help you…’
‘I’ve taken a leak before…in the dark.’
‘Get away!’ she cried out, laughing. What did the guy have to hide in those black jeans of his, she couldn’t help but wonder as Jamie brushed past her.
A look in the mirror soon told her that he had closed the door on the small shower room with its toilet. The guy’s really not fazed by the way I am, she thought, and he’s easy company. The decision to ask him to get out before the first cargo drop-off point would be hard to make, let alone to tell him of it.
Jamie was making his way back to the cab when he heard Lucy’s curses turn the air blue.
‘We’ve got a coolant problem, that’s what’s up, mister! We’re a long escort yalova way from any help.’
Jamie sensed them come to a halt rather quickly and grabbed hold of anything to keep his footing. ‘Just as well you’ve got space to pull off the highway…’
‘You got that right…mister.’ Lucy flicked a switch to bring on the hazard warning lights. ‘I’ll go check it out…it’s a bind but it could’ve been worse. This is not a cab-over-truck rig, or we’d be hanging here for quite a while.’
‘I’m just about with you on that,’ Jamie said, meeting her irritated look his way. ‘You’ve got me with you a while longer…call it company out in the middle of nowhere.’
‘You’re right there, but did I say anything on it?’ she retorted, waspishly, in answer to that. Lucy jerked open her door. ‘I was told this could just happen…’
Jamie soon saw her open a cabinet under the trailer and pull out a short step ladder.
‘Let me help with the heavy lifting…or hold a torch.’ He had seen her plug a long wire flex cable into a power socket. ‘Better still hold your light, while you investigate…we work as a team.’
‘I guess we could,’ she answered in her slow drawl that he was getting used to hearing.
Lucy couldn’t make out if he was teasing her. She suppressed a smile on hearing him say it, though. Whatever she said, however she behaved, she failed to knock the young guy back. Driving out here, alone, was one thing; having a failure and being on your own was something else entirely.
‘Yeah, okay…here,’ she said curtly and handing the light to him. ‘Just help me to see what I have to deal with…’
‘You get to face all kinds of challenges in your line of work, don’t you?’
‘Tell me about it,’ she muttered as the steps were taken and the engine hood’s fastenings jerked loose and freed; before the hinged side was lifted up. Jamie helped her without receiving any words of thanks.
Lucy stood awkwardly on the steps, and he put out a hand to steady it, moved the light’s beam as she directed. He saw really, for the first time, Lucy’s capable ways of dealing with a situation that had been sprung on her.
‘Don’t, you’ll get muck on your face and in your hair,’ he cautioned, moving to stand by her as she stepped off the ladder and made to brush away at her hair. It had fallen across her high cheeked, somewhat gaunt, face. He held out a tub of wipes for Lucy to clean off her hands. ‘Do you know what we face?’
‘Yes, ‘we’,’ he told her. ‘I’m in this with you, like it or not, remember?’
She walked away without a word being said in reply, but he saw Lucy glance at him through the gloom before turning to look for what was needed to affect a repair.
He knew that she would have to be bought round to liking him; that under that bluff exterior and her har ways of talking, sometimes, a softer woman’s heart was beating.
Jamie was unsure of what would follow these shared moments with her.
Lucy’s mood had been foul, but his offers of help had made the repair work go a whole lot quicker. A ruptured coolant hose had been fixed, with his help, and that she had found a replacement for in the equipment compartment, along with a large plastic coolant water container. Lucy’s foul-mouthed curses, hard to hear on her lips, had moderated as she took in the help that he had been to her. He just hoped that she would relent and not leave him stranded in a new town late into the night, or early in the morning.
She came into the cabin and slumped down, wearily, on the narrow bench seat that faced his. It was a time for her to really take notice of him, even to bask in the attention that Jamie paid to her and that she might get to believe in.
But practicalities were on her mind just now.
Lucy looked away for a moment, a soft sigh escaping over her lips. It was a little crazy to feel the way she did and so soon. The young guy was only too easy on the eye and he did not have the bluster of so many she met when out on the road, along with the impersonal ways in which so many folks dealt with each other.
‘It’s a real bind, screwed up my schedule totally, but the first call in people have been told…the coolant’s got to work all the way through the system once more and the system pressure boosted to where it needs to be. I’ll need to check on things again in a while.’
‘I’ll still be here…’
Lucy pushed back her hair and met his appraising look on her as he said it. ‘Yeah…you’ll still be here.’
The guy knew what to say to her. What was left unsaid he sure did let her know of; what was going through his mind and that she scarcely believed possible. He seemed to like what she was wearing and that flattered her figure and that her remote ways of it, at the beginning, were being worn away. On a really hot day, or in the warmer states she’d be in a V-neck T-shirt, and he’d have seen her cleavage; the swell of her boobies and all.
‘Your girl must be crazy to let you go…’
‘It happens…’ he retorted.
Jamie looked her way, ran his fingers quickly thorough his spikey, closely cropped sandy-blonde hair; shifted on the seat he had taken opposite her. He met a more considerate answering look that Lucy now cast his way.
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