'I want my whole back tattooed with roses. Roses with thick thorns.' My voice sounded disoriented, with a slight edge dangling at the syllabises. Maybe you know that feeling, when you're almost unconscious – completely wasted with alcohol flowing through your veins like sweet poison. And it doesn't matter. You feel free.
'Why?' he asked, fingers combing my greasy hair. He smelled musky, of ozone and the pizza boxes that lay on the back seat.
'Because life is beautiful, but it hurts. It hurts so much.'
Feeling like your soul is floating in the air.
'Why does it hurt?'
It was a simple question, but my mind stumbled on finding an answer. Absently I stroked his biceps, his strong muscular arms and bony hands. Smoke filled the cabin. It reminded me of the silver haze in fairy tales. Or the mist resting on the top of the trees in the morning.
'Because … all the beautiful things, the people you love … they wither. Like the petals of roses, they disappear. And then you are left alone.'
'Don't worry,' he answered with his eyes closed, slowly dozing off. 'You're with me now, I won't let you live on by yourself.'
Without asking, I grabbed the cigarette from between his chapped lips and pushed the small cancer stick out on the steering wheel. Jake awaked from his slumber, an angry frown adorning his face.
'Hey! Knock it off! That's leather!'
In an instant I didn't thought his freckled, unshaven face to be that beautiful. Or his green eyes that inspected the little burned spot to be special. It didn't surprise me either that the next morning, Jake was gone. I was left alone again on the road in Arizona's wasteland.
I grew up in Montana. That time seemed centuries ago, but I remember those days like yesterday. At the age of fifteen, I already wanted to leave the state to see the world. I wanted to climb the mountains in Switzerland, or spot huge kangaroos in Australia. Behind all those dreams remained the real reason; simply leaving the house.
Like a cheap whore who let herself go through years of neglect and disease, that house was just as awful to look at as it was humiliating to be seen with. Grey paint, the colour of a faded wolves mane laid cracked and peeled from the outside walls. The roof top was covered in thick patches of moss, one brick red fireplace sprouting out to make it seem less like a neglected cabin in the woods. Its porch looked like it could crack into thousands of pieces or swallow up little legs. The lawn was a jungle of death. Not a single blade of the long grass was any shade of green. In fact, the only living thing in sight was a giant oak tree standing between the cute and trendy red house next door, and my parents' shitty rental.
It had a certain, what's the word I'm looking for ... yes, charm. Charm indeed. With the vomit coloured shag carpets in all rooms but the kitchen and lemon yellow heavily used furniture, the place looked like a time machine. The seventies were still alive and clashing two of the least eye pleasing colours was trendy. That place defiantly ranked number three on my worst living experiences ever.
Oh and it could only go up from here.
The amount of yellow in this house was giving me a headache. The kitchen was the worst. Yellow refrigerator, yellow cabinets, yellow table, yellow chairs to match the yellow table, and a used yellow dishwasher. I bet if the previous owner could, he would have had the sink yellow, too. There was even a yellow bathtub in the bathroom.
My father loved the place. Even when there was now warm water for three months, when the six year old me discovered that there lived a wild dog in the backyard, he loved it. He loved the house like he would love a child. Like he would love me, but didn't.
'Well, you can fix that. Right, honey?' my mother would say promisingly. And I, the little sweet daughter , had to shut up. We had a roof above our heads, warm beds, food and water, so I had to shut my big mouth and enjoy. For seventeen miserable years, I held my tongue and smiled sweetly. It is surprising how good people can become of lying. So, I lied that I was going to stay over at a friend' house – my only friend there moved out months ago, but of course my parents had no knowledge of that fact – and fled.
It sounds reasonable that at that time, at the age of seventeen and a half, I had not enough money to rent or buy a proper house. My second worst living experience was this little Hostel I lived in right after fleeing from home. It was in a dark slum part of town that took in the scourge of humanity. All the little girls deemed whores and the boys who dealt drugs, or were trouble makers, assembled under one scummy building. I fit right in and no one ever paid me any trouble nor attention. I was just another nameless teen.
I remember my roommate, Anastasia - a girl who was kicked out of her house to birth her lovers child. We shared a little room that smelled of day old cabbage and dust and got along just fine. While searching for work, I met a couple of couch surfers. After hearing their stories, I knew that staying in the Hostel wasn't what I really dreamed of. A week passed and again; I packed all my stuff and went.
The rest is, how they say, history. I just ride, trying to stay out of trouble and calm the endless war in my thoughts.
Even now, with a long road stretching out in the horizon, a purple sky and silence as the audience, no trace of any human being in sight, my life couldn't get any better. I was a free soul, free to walk wherever I want to. No rules, no father shouting and throwing bruises. Just me, a road and the company that drifted by nowadays. It was perfect.
A loud sound of tires rumbling against the asphalt pulled me back out of my thoughts. A car. A monstrous semi-trailer Mack truck to be precisely, when I turned around and faced the vehicle. Without really thinking I waved my hands and stepped on the road again. The driver must've saw me by now, because the truck slowed down first and stopped, leaving a wave of dust behind.
The door of the passenger's side in the front cabin opened. Gladly I took the opportunity and stepped in the huge truck. The driver, an old man in his 50s with a bulging belly hanging over his belt, looked me up and down behind rounded glasses.
'Good evening lass, and what are you doing on the middle of the highway?'
His accent was … strange. I've never heard it before, but nonetheless I smiled kindly and pushed my blond hair over my shoulder.
'Can you lend me a ride?'
The man rubbed his greyish moustache and eyed me up and down.
'Well, I can't just leave you here for the night … Alright then. I'll drop you off at the next gas station, okay?'
As answer I putted on the seatbelt and closed the cabin door. Gotye' voice sounded from the radio, serving a comfortable atmosphere. I knew that song: night drive. How ironic.
'What do I get in exchange?' the trucker asked.
'I'm not going to give you a blowjob, mister. But I have five bucks?'
He laughed. I already liked him.
'I was just joking, lass. My name's Alfred Jones, but you can call me Alfie,' Alfred said gruffly while starting the engine again. The vehicle groaned alive.
'Nice to meet you Alfie. I am Max.'
'Yeah, just Max.'
Giving my full name would be pointless, anyway. I'll surely would never meet him again. Sighing, I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. Alfred muttered something under his breath and drummed with his free hand on the dashboard. The sound of his finger and the truck riding across the road was almost soothing, like a sweet lullaby. It didn't last long until I was brought in the dream world of my unconscious.
Reality sometimes felt like a big fur coat; it's made of dead things but the fur kept me warm and cosy. I was alive, breathing and not lost in my dreams. How cruel this so called reality may be, I lived on. In the land of Gods and monsters, I was an angel. Looking on the bright side, loving our fellow mortals. Foolish of me, perhaps.
'We're here lass,' Alfred announced while I nibbled on a chicken sandwich he gave me.
'Are you sure you're gonna be fine on your own?'
Alfred was one of the persons I would never forget. Ever. And not because he gave me a sandwich, but because he reminded me sentimentally of a father I never had.
'Yes, I will be fine. Thank you for the ride Alfie.'
'No problem, lass. Good bye.'
The truck roared once again and drove off. I waved silently, kind off regretting that the man left. The gas station on the Pinta road seemed old. Three rusty pumps lined up to a little container, yes a container, were you probably should pay for the gasoline. Wonderful.
Only one car was parked next to a pump. A black Cadillac, slightly junked on the front and very, very dusty. A good looking guy around my age leaned against the vehicle, playing with his phone. He seemed to be waiting for someone, his girlfriend maybe. However, it was always worth a shot. Straightening my clothes – consisting only of a shirt with the sleeves cut off and denim shorts – I walked straight to the traveller.
'Good morning,' I started, grinning like a lunatic when the guy looked up from his phone and smirked. Very handsome, indeed. The sun reflected in his blue eyes, giving the pair a cheeky shimmer. His blonde hair curled slightly and fell right behind his ears, dishevelled by the wind. Muscles filled his sun kissed arms, bulging under a plaid shirt with holes in the fabric.
'Morning,' the guy answered and stuffed the phone back into his jeans pocket. 'Are you all alone here?'
Kind of obvious, smarty pants. The only car here is the one your leaning onto. Or you expect me to walk on a pair of cheap flip-flops.
'Yes, I just got dropped off by a truck driver. Where are you heading to?'
Ah. He looked like a surfer type to me.
'Do you mind if I tack along?' I asked and tried to be as nonchalant as possible. The guy was handsome plus he owned a Cadillac. I always wanted to ride in a Cadillac.
'Hm, I'm fine with it. Only problem is, this is my brothers car so I haven't got much to say about the whole ordeal-' He was cut off by none other than who we were discussing.
'Rylance! You owe me a damn amount of money, asshole!'
Where Rylance was gold, his brother was silver, which happened to be more appealing to some as it was absolutely exotic. His features were dark, enticing, and they sat upon flawless skin, pale as the moonlight. Needless to say, he was the most extraordinary human being I had ever seen. Rylance's, as I assumed was his name, smile disappeared when his raven haired brother came over to the car, many books stapled in his arms.
'Don't call me that,' Rylance muttered. His brother had none of it.
'I'll call you whatever the fuck I want! If we didn't had to stop at that shitty village-'
'A trailer camp!'
'Whatever! I-' The younger brother stilled when his piercing blue eyes landed on me. 'And who the hell are you?'
Jeez, bipolar much?
'The name's Max. I was just wondering if you guys could take me with you. Your brother thinks it's alright.'
The raven haired guy looked at me as if I had grown a second head.
'Why, pray tell me, should I take a homeless girl with me?' His voice was silky, smooth. When he cocked an eyebrow I balled my fists.
'I am not homeless.'
'And my answer is no.'
Rylance took that moment to interfere. Hands thrown up in the air, the blond sighed in frustration and opened the door to the passenger's seat.
'Ezra, please. I honestly think she would be a great company. Come one … Max? Is that your name? Yes? You can come with us.'
A grin almost split my cheeks. Ezra, the owner of the Cadillac, dramatically rolled his eyes before stepping into the car. He was able to fall into his seat with a ridiculous amount of grace and refinery. I crept onto the backseat, shoving away boxes full of books.
'Don't touch those!' Ezra ordered. Rylance snorted, opening his window to spit out a cherry flavoured bubble gum. I love bubble gum.
'Hey, do you have some more gummies?' I playfully tapped him on the shoulder, savouring the moment to lock eyes with Ezra; who sneered via the windshield mirror.
'No candy in my car.'
This was going to be along ride.
'Nice car, by the way. I understand that you want to keep the cabin clean, I would do the same.' If I've got the money to buy such an expensive car, that is.
Ezra threw me another blank face via the mirror, but wait … was he blushing? No, it must be my imagination.
'Thank you,' Ezra replied without any sarcasm this time and drove along the highway, leaving the old gas station behind in a wave of dust.