She was lying in the centre on the road, flat on her back. Her knees were bent slightly and her bare feet pressed flat against the tarmac. One knee of her dark jeans was ripped open and a trickle on blood oozed from the cut underneath. Her eyes were closed. She could have been sleeping.
He stood above her head, gazing down at her face.
She didn't move or open her eyes. 'Yeah.'
'You wanna go for a drink or something?'
She cracked her eyes open a fraction, taking in his worried dirty blonde head.
'I don't drink alcohol with strangers anymore, on account of the incident with the suspiciously yellow trousers.'
'I was thinking coffee.'
The girl laid her palms flat on the ground and pushed herself up.
'What's your name?'
'Luanne. Sad but true.'
'Jeffrey. Sadder but just as true.'
'Yeah. There's a starbucks down the road, get off the street before you get run over.'
The boy stood in line for a coffee, or what passed for a line as it consisted of him, and a middle aged woman with blue streaks through her head deliberating between a small and medium sized cappuccino.
'I've got no money.' Said the dark haired girl blankly.
"No offence, but I didn't really expect you too. Two expressos please. That good?'
She sat at the table and raised her coffee to her lips, blowing on it then taking a sip.
'So how d'ya wind up lying in the middle of the road at...' he glanced at his watch. 'Exactly three and a half minutes past one in the morning?'
She took another sip of her coffee, then wiped the brown smudge off her top lip.
'You ever read a book called On The Road, by Jack Kerouac?'
'No. Is that relevant?'
'It's about, like, these people, who just give up on all the shit you find, just, like go round on all these crazy road trips, and get high, and live like fucking lunatics. I dunno. It's, like, crazy shit. Jesus I get high off that book. Dean Moriarty. Jesus. Shit. Just, fucking... wow.'
'And, you know, I didn't ever wanna work, y'know? And my fingernails were dirty. And Sal and Dean were like my heros. So I left.'
'You're not wearing any shoes.'
'I was in a hurry. They're in my bag.'
And he saw because he hadn't noticed it before that she was holding the dirty grey backpack.
'I just... oh god I don't even know. What're you doing tomorow?'
'I don't know, why?'
'Come with me.'
'What do you mean?'
'I'm going to New Orleans. Come with me.'
'You've got a car?'
'No. I'll try hitchhiking. Or I'll find a bus, or a train, or something. Your coming?'
'We just met.'
'Oh, who even cares?'
'I got shit going on. Look, you can't just meet people on the street when your lying there, and invite them to go to Orleans with you-are you high?'
'Haven't smoked a thing in days, I swear, this is my natural state. Come with me. We've gotta be, like free.'
'Jesus! Are you listening to yourself? Who the fuck do you think you are? I swear to god, you independent people, you make me sick, you're so fucking full of yourself! So high and mighty, looking down on all the people who can put things like family and society and considerations for the future, and all kinds of sensible things in front of just their day-to-day kicks! And you go doing random shit like wondering around in the middle of the night with no shoes on, and inviting total strangers to go away with you, and then you congratulate yourself on how free-willedyou're being, how separate you are from the sheep-like masses, but your really just you're own fucking stereotype. Jesus.'
He was glaring at her.
'Who cares?' She said. She put the coffee down carefully, and stared at him, smiling very slightly in the corner of her mouth. 'I don't give a shit, about the morals, and whether or not I'm a selfish person. I probably am, because your right. I don't think of the future, or anything sensible like that. I think moment to moment, trying to have fun. That's all I want. I'm not hurting anyone. And if I put my shoes on, and I go home and I get a job, and I save up for a package holiday to New Orleans, and do what I should do, will it make anyones life any better? I'm sorry that I look down on you, but I can't help it. You look down on me, anyway, you just said. So what's the difference?'
She stood up, and patted him on the shoulder.
'I'm gonna go now. Thanks for the coffee. Look me up some time. Luanne Casey. Find someone who looks like you're going to despise them for being up themselves and they'll probably know me.'
'Yeah. I know.'
She walked out of the shop, and he didn't turn to follow her with his eyes till she was almost halfway down the road.