Vic found himself on the broken tarmac, thankful for the semi solid ground, he had wasted no more extra energy even with the excitement and hope that coursed through his veins and pooled into his chest, running to the road would have achieved nothing, he had come to the realization that between seeing the car and getting to the road no other cars had come by and it was a good mile walk, he had also not seen any cars before the vehicle that blinded him zoomed past, he knew there was a good chance that he wouldn’t get picked up, even if by chance a car did come by there was no guarantee they would stop to help, he could only imagine what a sight he was to look at. He walked in the same direction the car had gone THE car, he figured that perhaps where that vehicle had gone was popular this time of day wishful thinking. He swigged from his bottle, a bigger gulp than he had allowed himself previously, he had to halt himself from drinking the whole thing, he knew his mind was easing itself into the idea he had made it, crossed the finish line and was mid-victory lap, he had to remind himself that the walk to a phone, to a gas station and beyond was only half the battle, the rest of the assault course was finding his family, he had seen no signs of them on his own journey and hoped that they had found a better, quicker, safer way to the road wishful thinking in fact they would already be at the police station, they may even pass by in a squad car, air conditioning cooling them as they wave hello goodbye, perhaps when he gets to the police station he will miss them by seconds and they’ll laugh about missing each other by minutes the whole walk through the desert. Wishful thinking. He had been walking a while but finally heard the now foreign sound of a car behind him, grinding gravel as the wheels rolled over the road, he turned around feeling a twinge in his ribs again, but he didn’t care, he waved his arms above his head trying to flag down the car, he bit his bottom lip out of pain and anxiousness. “Hey!! Help us please!!!” He saw the car make no effort to slow down and in an act of defiance flipped the guy off instead hey at least he might stop to kick your ass. But the guy didn’t even seem to acknowledge Vic as he whizzed past kicking up dust in a cloud around Vic. help us?
It was this rejection that made everything come to the surface, his aching feet, his broken ribs, his cracked and bleeding lips and his sunburnt skin. Vic felt his bottom lip quiver like a living piece of beef jerky, but he just sniffed, burning his nostrils from the dry air and his dehydrated skin. He continued walking almost zombie like, staring at his feet once more and once more missing his beacon of hope, this time a gas station.
It wasn’t until he heard voices that he looked up, his first thought was being thankful the voices weren’t internal, the second was that the voice was Lucy’s, he hurried his walk into a faster version, like the seniors who walk really fast because a run would immobilise them, he got to the forecourt and no longer heard the voices he looked further down the road and swore he saw taillights, he walked into the store and immediately felt the cooling effects of the AC, he stood there near the peak of a temperature-gasm and now much more light on his feet approached the cashier, she took one look at him unsure whether to be afraid of him or worried for him
“What the hell happened to you?”
He almost couldn’t reply, he had been stuck in his own head for so long except for the primitive outburst at the driver he almost didn’t know how to formulate his words, she spoke again before he had chance to utter a syllable
“You want some water Hon?”
He rapidly nodded his head almost giving himself whiplash in agreement, she walked over to a refrigerator, just hearing the hum of the machine made Vics legs shake, she slid the door across and took a one litre bottle of water (at this point he would have taken water straight from the toilet if it was offered) and put it in front of him on the counter, he stared for what felt like a few minutes but was probably seconds, he regarded the water ring that was forming around it’s base, he moved his eyes half way up the bottle meeting with a droplet, allowing his eyes to escort it to the bottom, he took the bottle in one hand and screwed the top off with ease using the other, he held the bottle as water cascaded into and around his mouth, he poured some over his head giving himself brain freeze, he gasped for air and his eyes met the cashier’s, she stared over her glasses and said “Boy you better stop putting a mess on my floor and tell me what your issue is”.
He swallowed, took in a breath and the words fell out seamlessly, he told her absolutely everything, making sense at some points, when he was done he couldn’t be sure if her wide eyed expression was shock at his situation or that he now took on the appearance of a rambling looney. She took a deep breath in and breathed out “I’m calling the cops”
Perfect he thought, for him or against him the blue lights would lead to something.