“Why are you kidnapping me?” she says.
“You wouldn’t believe me.”
“Are you going to kill me?”
“Are you going to rape me?”
I roll my eyes. “No.”
“It’s a legitimate question for a hostage to ask, Phil!”
I sigh. “You may not understand this, but I don’t want to be in this situation anymore than you want do.”
“Fate’s a bitch.”
We ride in silence again.
“This is B S,” she says. “And that gun’s freaking me out.”
I’m holding the gun in my right hand as I steer. In all the encounters I’ve ever had with her, I’ve never seen the current expression on her face – granted there’s few shots of botox in there now. Still, she’s not being her ditzy, bubbly self. Ashley is concerned, and the monster who is scaring her is me.
“Just, try to relax.”
“Ditch the gun then.”
I bite my lips and shut my eyes for a moment. “Open the glove compartment.”
“Wait… never mind!”
I reach out and pop it open. It’s filled with crumpled yellow pages that are covered with dark ink and lipstick marks.
Ashley slams it shut and crosses her arms.
My eyes return to the road. “What was in there?”
“Clearly it was-”
“Sometimes I write poetry.”
I laugh then turn to face her. She’s covering her eyes with her hand and shaking her head.
“You write poetry?”
“Just shut-up, please? Can you just shut-up?”
I sigh, then fix my attention to the road. “What can I do to make this easier for you?”
“Let me go,” Ashley says, then scoffs.
I shake my head. This sucks.
“Where are we going?”
“Why? Are you raping me there?”
“I’ll sleep on the floor.”
“You’re crazy,” says Ashley.
“Only if you keep talking.”
“Look at you, Phillip. Kidnapping me? Shooting me? You lost your f-ing mind. Loretta ruined you.”
I grip the steering wheel harder, then force myself to relax.
“Too many concussions. There are lawsuits about it, I’ve seen ESPN.”
“You go donkey-balls, Phil! Too many concussions and you go eff-ing crazy! They talk about it on Sportscenter.”
I grit my teeth, then mutter. “My life’s not a top-ten countdown.”
“It’s a not top ten.”
I take a few breaths. This is the last person I want to be around right now.
“I can’t believe Loretta has stayed with you-”
“Loretta has been taken from me, so has Avery! That’s why I’m doing this, that’s the only reason I’m doing this!”
“Oh,” she says. “…sorry to hear that.” She returns to crossing her arms and gazing out her window. “Are you sure she didn’t walk out on you and take Avery with her? Maybe she met a guy who owns a pool and doesn’t just clean them.”
I’m about to snap this fucking steering wheel. Instead I shake my head and bust a chuckle. Soon we reach the Sheraton Inn. I park and turn the mustang off.
We sit and wait.
“So… do you need money to get a room, or…?”
“Ok… why are we just sitting here?”
I stare at the handgun, then scratch my neck and exhale.
“What is it?”
I breathe a handful of times through my nostrils, then open the car door and step outside.
I tuck the handgun in my waistband, and head toward the hotel’s side entrance.
- Thomas M. Watt