It took two weeks before my dad started calling. For 14 days, he had no idea where I was or if I were safe. He didn’t fucking care. Why else would it have taken him so long to start calling?
“We have a Flat tire,” I said outside the car on a knee.
It was dark out, and I couldn’t tell if we were in Montana or Idaho. Cars were passing by every few minutes, but I doubt anyone was going to stop to help. That might have been for the better. We weren’t locals. We weren’t old. We weren’t straight. Attention was the last thing we needed.
“Fuck! It’s gonna cost an arm and a leg to get someone out here, and this late,” Nick said from inside the car with his head out a window watching me.
“I can change it. I know how to change a flat tire, so calm down,” I said a little dismissively.
It was so late into the night I could hardly keep my eyes open. I just wanted us to reach another Motel. Regardless, I felt an odd sense of pride because, for once, I was doing something we needed.
“You’re scared? I know you are,” Nick said while I got the spare tire from our trunk. I had to fish it out from under all our stuff, so it took time.
“Well yeah, we ran away together. We’re the only people we have right now. No friends, no family, no nerds, no jocks. It’s just us. But a flat tire is nothing,” I explained.
“I guess we’ve been keeping a lid on the pressure, haven’t we,” Nick asked.
“And there’s a lot of it,” I answered honestly.
It took 15 minutes to change the tire, after which we got back to driving.
“You’ve never been this far from home, have you? I know you’re scared,” Nick said.
“This, ‘us’ is my new home. But I’ll admit I’m still afraid of being me, of being us. You have all the money, you’re smarter, and I’ll admit I like you as a top, but Nick. You’re braver than me. You’re not afraid to be yourself. That’s why this is something I can do. I can protect us. But only If you keep helping me,” I tried to speak without being too emotional.
The road was pitch black. Not even our headlights were enough to keep the world around us from looking like a black hole.
“Check the glove box,” I said.
Nick opened the box, and he found exactly what I meant for him to.
“Is this real,” he asked, holding the heavy metal.
“It’s my dad’s. When he gave me the car, I think he forgot it was in there,” I explained.
“We have a gun?”
“We have a gun...and a switchblade, a hunting knife, a couple of flares, first aid kit,” I went down the list of things I was surprised Nick hadn’t found hidden around the car yet.
It was unloaded. But there was ammo hidden under our seats.
“Tom,” he said.
“My dad went hunting a lot. Sometimes he’d take me with him. I know how to protect us if it ever comes to that.”
Truth be told, I was always a horrible shot, and I never liked killing things, but I meant to reassure Nick at that moment.