[This story is about family, doing the right thing and the sometimes unexpected results of attempting to do the right thing. Sex between a man and a woman, between a man and another woman and sex between the three of them is a part of this chapter. All the sex happens between Roanoke, Virginia and Wyoming. There will be at least five chapters]
There are things I’ll do for family that I’d turn down as a job. Number one, family members don’t pay as well as my regular jobs and number two, they’re almost never ready when they’re supposed to be ready.
The latest is a case in point. My sister called me three weeks ago and asked me to help her move. I knew something was really wrong. She and Frank had moved a year ago into a nice house just outside Winston-Salem. I didn’t help with that move, they already lived in Winston-Salem and didn’t need a trucker. Anyway, she called and asked for my help. I’m nosey so I asked what was up.
“Frank is screwing his secretary and she’s pregnant!” LeeAnn said. I could hear the venom rising in her voice and I was instantly glad I wasn’t Frank. Understand, sometimes my weird sense of humor gets loose before I can shut my mouth.
“So, am I moving you or his secretary?”
“Me! I’m not staying with that son-of-a-bitch one second longer than I have to!” She didn’t think what I said was the least bit funny. I was afraid of the next answer so I didn’t want to ask the question. I did anyway.
“Where am I moving you to?”
“Home. I already talked to Daddy and I can have the second house. The question I have for you is when?” Daddy and Momma lived on a farm. The second house was once the house where the foreman and his wife lived. Since Dad sold off half the land, he didn’t need a foreman anymore. The second house had been vacant for five years.
“I’m guessing you want to go sooner rather than later?” I asked.
“You don’t need to guess. If you could get here today, I’d want to leave tonight!”
“I’ll have to make a few calls. I’ll call you back in less than an hour.”
I made the calls and rescheduled what needed rescheduling. Then I figured how much money I needed to break even. I was glad I wasn’t on the west coast. Twenty-seven hundred dead head miles is crazy. I was in Roanoke, less than four hours away.
When I called LeeAnn she picked up on the first ring.
“Well? What’s the news?” She asked.
“The news is I can be there tomorrow. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have to get paid for this. Not enough that I make money, but break-even money.”
“How much?” Her tone wasn’t upset or worried. That was a good sign. I gave her the number and started to explain what it was for, fuel, fees… and she cut me off.
“I’ll have the cash for you when you arrive.”
“Have you started packing?”
“No. Frank is going to Richmond tomorrow for what he says is a business conference. He’s going to be gone until Monday. As soon as he goes I’ll start packing.”
“Get boxes and lots of friends. The more friends and the more you get done before I get there, the faster we’re on the road.”
“Gotcha! Thanks big brother.”
I had a good day and got my load unloaded, check cashed and my truck serviced and fueled. I’d been making runs in and out of Roanoke about once a month for almost a year. I knew where I could park my rig and where to get a good meal, with extras.
She worked at WSET-TV, the ABC affiliate in the area. She liked our arrangement. When I was scheduled into Roanoke I’d call her. She’d do whatever she could to be available and we’d go on a “date” while I was in town. Our date included her picking me up from where I parked my rig, taking me to her place where we played house for however many hours I had before I had to be back in the truck. Sometimes we left her place, but mostly she reminded me of the song from “Horse Whisperer”, “Looking for a soft place to land.” She was my soft place to land. There were two questions she didn’t ever ask: Where are you going and when will you be back.
When I parked my rig I called her. A feminine voice at the station asked if she could help me. I asked, “May I speak to Kathy Prentis please?” She said was expecting the call, it had been long enough. She said she’d be there in an hour. She was.
We had a wonderful evening together and in the morning she dropped me back at my rig on her way to work. Inside the vanity in her bedroom I left an envelope. The one time I had offered her money directly she asked if I thought she was a whore. Ever since that time, I put money in an envelope and leave it there. Feeding me isn’t free and I like to know being with me has more benefit for her than what I have in my jeans. I left her two hundred that time.
When I was about an hour from LeeAnn’s house, I called. She had six helpers in the house and she had four men coming in the morning to load furniture and things. I told her I’d park in front of her house at seven the next morning. I found a place to park and spent the night by myself. I didn’t want someone seeing my truck parked out front of her house overnight.
The sleeper bahçeşehir escort on my truck is comfortable. I have a TV, stereo, DVD player and all the necessities for camping beside the road. The bed is big for one, cozy for two and I know both from experience.
At quarter to seven in the morning I stopped in front of LeeAnn and Frank’s house. As I was opening the back of the truck four big guys were bringing out a couch and a fridge. I checked the fridge to make sure it didn’t still have food in it. Don’t laugh, it’s happened.
LeeAnn brought out some coffee and my favorite breakfast; a bowl with scrambled eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy. I ate and supervised the loading. By noon the house was almost empty. My truck was almost full. LeeAnn came back out to the truck and said we were ready.
“You riding with me?” I asked.
“Nope. We aren’t caravanning either. I need to stop in Atlanta and see Megan so I’ll meet you at home. I talked to Daddy last night. He says to call him the day before you’ll get there and he’ll get some boys to unload.” She handed me an envelope full of money. I didn’t look inside. I prayed there was the full break-even amount inside.
As I locked up the back of my truck LeeAnn walked to their garage and drove out in a year-old Dodge pick up. She had been driving a Buick. She stopped beside me, rolled the window down and said, “If I’d kept the Buick it would’ve been the only one in the county. In Wyoming, a girl needs a truck.” She waved and was gone.
I had the paperwork making my load legal, the money LeeAnn gave me and about eighteen hundred miles to go before I could resume my solitary life as an independent trucker.
As I pulled away from the curb I noticed it was 1:12pm. I pointed my truck west and drove. As I got farther and farther from Winston-Salem I thought about Frank and LeeAnn. I listened to a piano concerto by Chopin, switched to Dave Brubeck and as the sun was going down I listened to Alison Krauss and Union Station. All the years on the road had broadened my appreciation of different kinds of music. I wondered, not for the first time, why Frank and LeeAnn only had one kid. I wondered why Frank hadn’t spent enough money on condoms, birth control pills or a vasectomy.
By seven I was getting hungry and knew where a good truck stop was not far ahead. By eight I was parked and inside eating. I checked the weather ahead and saw a small storm out west of me. It didn’t look like anything to worry about. The storm behind the little one looked bad. A little math in my head and I figured both LeeAnn and I might get lucky and miss driving in the second storm. We might both be home when it hit.
I napped in my sleeper and woke up refreshed and ready to drive. Before leaving the truck stop I fueled up. When I opened the envelope LeeAnn had given me it didn’t look right. I paid almost four hundred for fuel and got back in the truck. I counted the money. The slips from the ATM’s were in the envelope. LeeAnn had hit three different banks for two thousand each.
A slap on my door got my attention. I looked down and saw a woman standing beside my rig. I tucked the money in a good secure place and I opened the door. “You OK?” I asked.
“That depends. If you’re headed west and if you got room for one tired lady, then I’m fine. If not, then…”
“Where are you headed?”
“I’m going that way for a ways. Can you get in or you need help?”
She ran around and climbed in. Her one battered suitcase was about the size of one of LeeAnn’s purses. She sat down, closed the door and belted in. I slipped into gear and we moved onto the interstate.
For five minutes she didn’t say anything. I glanced over a couple of times. She was looking out into the darkness.
“Are you the kind of man who doesn’t talk much?”
“I’ve been known to go a week without talking to anyone face to face.”
“Can we talk?”
“In the back there’s a sign. I keep it under the bed. It says the doctor is in. Unless you get the sign out and put it on the dash I can’t charge you for any therapy we do.”
She looked at me and then said, “You are kidding. Right?”
“Right. I figure if you had money you’d be on Trailways instead of hitchin a ride in a semi.”
“I’ve got money. Almost enough to buy us both lunch, once.”
I looked over at her and then back at the road. In the two seconds I looked I saw a woman who had seen a lot of bad road in her life and her face seemed to say, “Nothing could be worse than what I just left.”
“Tell me your story, please.”
“If it’s Ok with you I’d rather talk about damn near anything else. Right now my story hurts too much.”
“Ok. What do you want to talk about?”
“Me? Can’t we find a subject that would at least be interesting?”
“You’re interesting, to me.”
“Ok. Ask anything you want to know.”
“How long you been truckin?”
“Almost twenty years. First eight I worked for Hunt, then I bought my own rig and I’ve been an independent truck ever since.”
“You bakırköy escort married?”
“Nope and yes. I’m not married and I was. Seven years I was married to the sweetest woman I’d ever met. She was a good trucker, too. Before you ask, she died. Cancer. The doctors diagnosed her on the last day of May and the last day of September she was gone.”
“I’m sorry.” The way the words came out I looked over at her again. I saw tears on her cheeks.
“I’m sorry she’s gone, because I miss her every day and I’m glad she went quickly. Watching her suffer was killing me too.”
“Was that last September?”
“No. It’s been five years. Five years and three months.”
It was quiet for about twenty miles.
“My name is Donna.”
“Nick. Nice to meet you.”
“I like that name. Seems to suit you. Can I ask more questions?”
“Sure. Talking helps the miles pass. When we get to a city or you see lots of other vehicles, get quiet so I can keep us safe.”
“Where’s this load going?”
“Little town in Wyoming. The load is everything from my sister’s house and it’s all going to our parent’s house. My sister went to Atlanta to visit her daughter and tell her about the divorce. She’ll meet us at home.”
“Nothing my sister has ever done was easy. Marrying Frank was a tough row from day one. Having Megan was two days of labor and she ripped LeeAnn on the way out. She came with a tooth and used it to poke holes in LeeAnn trying to breast-feed. No, her divorce isn’t easy.”
“I hope Hal just says, “Good riddance and goes on with his life.”
“Hal’s your husband?”
“Might as well have been. We weren’t married. We lived together for six years.”
“Why not get married?”
“I’ll quote from his own mouth. “If I had a cow I wouldn’t marry it. I’d milk it for all I could get. I’d take good care of it, feed it, give it a place to live, but I wouldn’t marry it.”
“He said that, right to your face?”
“No, but I heard him say it more than once.”
“You stayed six years? Why?”
“No where to go. Your sister is lucky. She can go home. She has parents who care and a brother she could ask for help.”
“Never knew my Dad. Not sure Mom knew who he was. When I was fifteen and one of her regulars offered mom three hundred to have my virginity, I figured it was time to get out on my own.”
“He bought your virginity when you were fifteen?”
“Yes. He didn’t care about me at all. Didn’t call me by my name and wanted me to call him Daddy.” She almost spat the words out.
“So, let me guess, you bummed around for a few years, working at menial jobs that didn’t pay much and one night in a bar you met Hal and he took you home.”
“That’s my story.”
“What happened tonight that got you on the road?”
“Hal and two buddies from his work came home. All three were drunk or close to it. Hal demanded I make dinner for the three of them. As they sat in the living room waiting for dinner Hal promised his friends they could have a “piss poor fuck after dinner.””
“Damn! Nice guy. Was that the first time he’d made an offer like that?”
“Yup. First and last time. I packed what little I had and went out the back door. Their dinner probably got burnt. Just before I left I took them each a new beer.”
“By the time they noticed you were gone, you were gone. Long gone.”
“I caught a ride out of town and he gave me a ride to the truck stop. You were the third trucker I approached. You were the first who even rolled the window down.”
“In case you ever want to try hitchin again, only an independent like me will even consider a hitcher. Most of the time I’m polite and the answer is no. It just isn’t safe.”
“Energy. Ever sat at a bar and someone steps up behind you and even before they touch you or say a word you know they’re bad news?”
“That’s energy. We feel each other without touching. People do it all the time. My wife taught me to trust it. Most people don’t.”
“And we get people like Hal in our lives.”
I nodded. We were quiet again. I was driving and I assumed Donna was thinking. When I looked over she was asleep.
“Donna.” I looked and she hadn’t opened her eyes. “Donna!” I said a little louder. She sat up straighter and her eyes opened.
“Go back there and get into the bed. There’s a bathroom if you need it. I’ll be driving another three hours then I’ll need a rest stop. Sleep well.”
“I’ll be Ok here.”
“Donna, I can’t molest you and drive. I’m gonna drive for three more hours. Just before I stop for my rest I’ll honk the horn and wake you.”
“I trust you. I like your energy.”
“Thanks. Now go to bed.”
She went and pulled the curtain. I heard her running water and then flushing the toilet. It got quiet. I turned on some music, soft and mellow.
The clock on the dash said noon when I pulled into a truck stop outside Kansas City. It was time for food and rest. As I swung off the interstate başakşehir escort I honked once. I heard Donna yelp in surprise then I heard her rustling around in the sleeper. As I parked she plopped into the shotgun seat.
“Where are we?” Donna asked.
“The river is still west of us. This must still be Missouri.”
I opened the door and a blast of cold air filled the cab. The outside thermometer on my wing mirror read 36 degrees. I closed the door and went in the back to get a jacket. Donna didn’t move.
“Donna, you’ll need a jacket.”
“I don’t have one. I did have, but it was in the living room when I left. I already have on my sweater.”
“Then we’ll hurry. Come on.”
“I’ll stay here and wait for you.”
“No, you won’t. There’s a two for one sale. When I get a meal, you get the second one free. Come on.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her out the driver’s door. We ran into the building and I saw her smile for the first time.
In the restaurant I asked her what she liked to eat. She answered, “Damned near anything I didn’t cook!” The waitress arrived and I said, “Two meatloaf dinners. I want diet Coke. Donna, what do you want to drink?”
“Can I have coffee, please?” The waitress nodded and disappeared. The drinks were delivered promptly and two minutes later the dinners arrived. Donna thanked me and started eating. She hadn’t eaten dinner the night before and I realized she hadn’t eaten anything for at least twenty-four hours. We both finished our dinners and I ordered a piece of apple pie for me. I looked at Donna and then I asked the waitress what kinds of pie they had.
“Apple, cherry, lemon meringue, and mince.” She answered.
“Which would you like?” I asked Donna.
She started to protest and then said, “Apple.”
I said, “Make them ala mode.” The waitress smiled and disappeared.
“I can’t afford this.” Donna looked at her plate as she spoke.
“Two for one, remember?”
“That’s not true!”
“If you remember what I said was, There’s a two for one sale. When I get a meal, you get the second one free. I didn’t say the diner had anything to do with it.”
“I get the message.” She didn’t look happy about the message.
The waitress delivered the pie and we ate. The pie was delivered warm and the ice cream melting on top. When I looked up at Donna she had finished her pie. I could tell she had something to say, so I waited. When it was ready she’d say it.
The waitress came and cleared the table and delivered the bill.
Donna reached for the bill and I picked it up. She looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve been alive long enough to know there are lots of men who believe that when they buy you dinner, or take you to a movie they’re entitled to something in return. I…”
I interrupted, “Stop! I didn’t say I’ll buy you a meal and you’ll have sex with me. I didn’t say it and I don’t work like that. Yes, there are men like that. I’m not one of them. I bought you a meal because you needed one. I’m going out of the restaurant and buying you a coat. Not so I can take it off of you, because you need a coat. After I buy the coat you get to make a choice.”
“To either get back in the truck with me or to go on your way. If you go with me I’ll keep treating you like family. If you want to go I’ll give you two hundred dollars and I’ll worry for days about if I gave you enough, if you got hurt, froze to death or raped. I won’t try to stop you. Now, come with me, please.”
I left cash on the table for the bill and tip. I walked toward the store portion of the truck stop. Donna hesitated then followed. At a rack of good jackets I said, “Pick the one you like. Make sure it fits and zips with you in it.”
She picked a good warm coat, tried it on and said, “Oh, that feels great!”
“You like the color?” I asked. She nodded. She zipped it up and flipped the hood up over her head.
“Is that the one?” She nodded again. I grabbed the sleeve, found the price tag and ripped it off. I took the tag to the register and paid for the coat. The young woman at the register said, “Where’s the coat?”
I pointed at Donna. The young woman said, “Good choice.” I wasn’t sure if she meant the coat was a good choice or if Donna was a good choice. I let it go. I bought some road snacks and a six-pack of diet Cokes. I asked Donna what she liked to drink and she said diet Coke was fine. We had almost run from the truck to the building because Donna only had a sweater. We strolled on the way back.
Inside the truck I went into the sleeper. Donna sat shotgun. I handed her a blanket and a pillow. “I’ve got to sleep for a few hours. I understand we don’t know each other very well. I’ve got some books if you want to read or you can curl up there and sleep too. No pressure to do anything.”
She took the blanket and the pillow and said, “Thanks. Thanks for the coat too.”
My wallet came out and I counted out two hundred dollars in twenties. I handed them to her.
“No. You don’t need to give me that.” She said, without even lifting a hand.
“Take it. If, in the next few hours while I sleep you decide your road goes differently than mine, you’ll have it and you can simply open the door and go.” I pulled the curtain and left her to her thoughts. I set an alarm for eight hours of sleep and undressed. When I was down to underwear I asked myself if I took them off or not. I took them off.