(Memoir excerpt) I was driving across the country again. It had been a few months since I left home. Who knows where I was coming from or where I was headed. I think my last stop had been in Memphis. It was three o’clock in the morning. I had been driving a long time, a few days straight. I had been living out of my car for a while now. The back seat was my bedroom. I had a pillow and a comfy blanket and a few knick-knacks across the back window. I had a small stuffed toy bear that the guy had given me with a hand-scribbled note stuck in the pocket of the bears little red vest that said, “I luv you”. Love spelled with a u and no e. Why did he do that? That always bothered me. Was it less than real love? Fewer letters. Slang. The luv Taylor Swift says to her fans at a concert in response, screaming back with a giggle, ‘I luv you too, guys!’. This wasn’t real love.
The guy slept in the front seat. He never drove but ironically slept in the drivers seat. That seat was broken and went back further. He was my boyfriend. We had been on the road together for a few months now. Enough time for me to know that he looked like a man on the outside but it was really a trick. He wasn’t much of a man. He was more of a coward. He was more of a weight than a boyfriend. Nonetheless, he was tall and muscular and I felt safer with him around.
I drove past a blue reflective sign that said, ‘Welcome to Ohio’. I didn’t mind driving at night. Pitch black. The roads were quiet. The stars we shining. I would drink a can of Mountain Dew and it fueled my body like crack and wound me up to spin for hours.
I was driving over the speed limit in the fast lane when I felt the tire pop. The car shuddered and the steering wheel pulled my arms hard to the left. Shit. I almost hit the guardrail. I overcorrected. Luckily there weren’t a lot of cars on the road. It was the middle of the night and all. I couldn’t cross the three lanes to make it to the side of the road so I slowed down. Up ahead there was enough room on the shoulder for me to pull over. The BF stayed in the car, of course. I didn’t need to wonder if he had ever changed a tire, I knew the answer. I got out and saw the driver’s side back tire blown out. Rubber shredded everywhere. It was bound to happen. The car was old. I knew I had a spare in the trunk.
“Pop the trunk”
I told the BF to get out of the car.
We had so much stuff in the trunk our things spilled into the road when it popped open. Clothes, bags, towels, garbage, laundry, shoes. It was our entire ‘apartment’.
“Where’s the spare?” The BF piped up.
“Under the lining, at the bottom” I huffed.
We rummaged around and tried to get to it. It was no use. We’d have to take everything out.
Our stuff sprawled onto the gravel and moved in the swoosh of the breeze each time a transport truck flew by.
“There are no tools”
“What? How the hell are we supposed to get this tire on?”
We looked at each other as our faces dropped. We didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t have triple A, we didn’t have money or even credit cards.
“You’re gonna have to hail somebody down to help us.” The guy looked at me and said, “I’ll wait in the car so they think you’re alone.”
He told me to stand on the road and look sexy and helpless and wave at the oncoming cars.
I put the flashers on and propped up the hood. I stood in front of the car. The first car that whizzed by could have hit me. The guy rolled his window down and yelled from the passenger seat, “Be careful!”
I saw a white pick-up truck coming towards me in the fast lane; I waved my arms up in the air, it made my short dress pull up even shorter on my thighs. The truck slowed down and pulled over.
Out got a man, had to be over six feet tall. Tanned skin, tight shorts and one of those tank tops with the thin straps and scoop necks that expose bulging chest muscles. Was this guy a WWE wrestler?
As he trudged towards me all I could think was this guy could pick me up and throw me in the back of his truck and eat me for dinner.
“Hey! What’s going on?” Such a soft voice for such a large human.
I told him about the flat. He told me he was on his way to the gym for his morning workout. It was 4am.
He went into his trunk and pulled out some tools. As he walked behind me towards my car with the tools in his hand my BF asserted himself and emerged from the front seat.
The wrestler stopped. Who was in danger here? Us or him? I quickly turned around and saw the look of disappointment that I wasn’t the damsel he was hoping to save.
I smiled softly and apologetically, “He thought I’d have better luck if he stayed in the car”
He saw our open trunk and the current state of our life strewn on the side of the road.
“I’ll have to lift it.”
“I don’t have a jack”
He gestured to my BF, looking him up and down, “If your friend there can change a tire… I’ll lift the car up”
He leaned his back against the side of the car and bent his knees as he cupped his hands under the bumper and stood up straight taking the car in the air with him.
“Yup shouldn’t be problem” He dropped the car back down and it shook the pavement.
I rushed to grab the spare. Who knew you didn’t need a jack to change a tire, you just needed a large man who could lift 3300 pounds…
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