We’re leaving town. The outskirts are long behind us and on our flanks instead are fields full of crops stretching east to west. Lindsay is sprawled on Her back across the two passenger seats, Her feet raised and protruding from the window that, like mine, is flung open wide. The day is hot and the air is thick and tangible around us and the wind is the only thing that keeps us cool. The road is clear and empty and I’m barrelling the rental truck down the middle of it like it’s post-apocalypse America and we’re the last two people alive. Lindsay is slapping Her bare legs with Her palms in time to the radio and humming. I know She doesn’t know She’s humming because She never knows when She hums. I’ve stopped telling Her. It makes Her feel self conscious and besides – it’s pretty.
I can hear the boxes sliding slightly in the back with every shift of the suspension. I turn around to glance through the hatched window behind us, into the storage to make sure everything’s upright, and as I turn back I find myself drawn to Lindsay’s upside-down face, staring up at me with a curious expression. Our eyes meet for a second and She unexpectedly beams up at me, as if this split-second connection made Her day. I feel warm and embarrassed and turn back to the road after awkwardly returning the grin. It’s strange, the relationship Lindsay and I share. It’s beautiful and terrifying to me at once, and I wonder if, somehow, She feels the same way.
A long time ago, whilst Katrina was busy ravaging the south, Lindsay fell ill. Really ill. I made Her chicken noodle soup because it was all that I knew. I’d never looked after anyone but myself – this was before I moved back in with dad – and as I gave it to Her, through Her ferocious fever and spasms of violent nausea, She took my hand – for once Hers was ice and stone – and said “don’t let me alone.” It was stunted and confused but earnest.
I’m thinking of this and us when suddenly Lindsay sits up and withdraws Her feet back into the truck.
“There’s a gas station coming up, make a stop,” She says blankly. Her voice is emotionless, an absence that seconds ago was filled by so much. Something’s wrong and I doubt it’s just a call to nature that’s making Lindsay so serious. Sure enough within minutes a red hut with gas pumps out front shimmers into view through the heat haze. Lindsay doesn’t speak again as I pull into the forecourt, focusing instead on slipping on Her shoes. As we slow She swings her door open and jumps out, taking off running towards the storefront. I’m confused and worried and uncomfortably ignorant as she rushes inside.
After I’ve come to a complete stop I get out and jog in after Her, hoping there will be some sort of revelation inside. I find Her amongst the toiletries, pulling a couple of packs of emergency panties off a hook and throwing them in a blue basket full of various items. Beneath the underwear there’s bottles of water and a mini-pyramid of tinned produce, a tube of vitamins and a box of matches. It gets stranger. There’s a flashlight and a pack of twelve batteries and some lightsticks that ignite when snapped. There’s duct tape and canned fruit and a six pack of Red Bull with a pocketknife resting atop it.
“Are we going camping, or something?” I ask, incredulous She’s managed to grab so many items in so little time. I quickly see that She knows exactly where She’s going, never stopping without reaching for something and throwing it in with the rest of the stockpiles of survival gear. It all looks pretty heavy but She carries it effortlessly with one hand, Her other darting out intermittently for charcoal, a compact roll-up sleeping bag, trail mix.
“I’m furious I didn’t see it sooner,” She says mysteriously, and She’s right – she sounds mad. It’s rare to see Lindsay ever get worked up. The last time I saw Her get even slightly aggravated is when Her party wiped on a heroic Icecrown run on World of Warcraft last summer.
“See what, Linds?” I ask, concern punctuating my carefully crafted nonchalance.
“There’s no time,” She says simply, “no time.”
She dumps the basket on the desk in front of the cashier who jumps, stunned from his afternoon siesta. He blinks five times in rapid succession until he’s fully alert – or as close as he’s going to be – and looks at Lindsay.
“Sir,” She says quickly, “there is one hundred and forty one dollars worth of items in this basket. Do you believe me?”
The kid – stunned – blinks once again and nods. Lindsay looks to Her right at the rack of impulse-buy chocolate bars and grabs a couple.
“One hundred and forty three.” She restates simply, and reaches into my back pocket.
“Hey!” I say as she withdraws my wallet.
“I’ll pay you back,” She says – annoyed? - and takes out a wad of bills I had put aside for the journey. For roadside cafés and gas, I guess. She licks a finger and counts out a hundred and fifty bucks.
“Keep the change, cowboy,” She tells the kid behind the counter and leaves the store as quickly as she entered it, hefting the basket with Her. I’m sure I’m looking as stunned as the cashier as I follow her back out to the truck, out to what can only be one hell of a confusing future.
Something wicked-cool this way comes. Check back tomorrow for the second part in BPD’s second crossover. Consider this a send off for the site before it turns into Kiss of the Womb Per Diem for a month.