THE JETTA IS DEAD TO ME. I could have resurrected her – and no doubt someone will – but taking this random ride to Vegas seems the better option. All I want to do is disappear, and traveling with Loretta puts one more sideways leap between me and my past. Also something tells me this girl is seldom dull.
“What happened to your boyfriend?”
Her mouth tightens. “Had a little run-in with the local law.”
The steel in her eyes warns me not to dig, but I was born with a silver spade in my mouth. “And you’re leaving anyway?”
“I got somewhere to be.”
Of course she does. I’ll pursue that later.
“Where in Vegas?”
Loretta cracks a grin. “You know, I haven’t a clue.”
A road sign advertises Flagstaff, a rest stop, and Winslow, Arizona. I’m two words into the song when Loretta tells me to stop. For fuck’s sake.
“I grew up,” she explains, “with all that Eagles shit and right now I’m not in the mood to take any-fucking-thing easy.”
“How would you feel about ‘Route 66’?”
We stop for gas at Flagstaff. “My treat.”
“I have money, you know.”
“I’m sure you do. Just I’m scared.”
“Those shorts. I don’t think they’ll survive if you try to get out of the car. And if they do, I’m sure that old guy won’t. No way his heart can stand that sort of strain.”
She turns to find the old guy peering in at us while filling his tank.
Loretta looks at him. Looks at me. Laughs. “I think these are my sister’s,” she says. “I packed in kind of a hurry.”
“You need to borrow something?”
“No, thanks, I got plenty of clothes.”
“Well, good. But I recommend you don’t change anywhere Grandpa can see.”
“I’m more worried about that pair, over by the door.” A couple of guys, mid-thirties, staring at her car. Expensive hair. Name brand clothes. Watches. In an era when everyone else uses a phone. Loretta sees what I see. “What do you bet they come with that yellow Porsche?”
Yellow. Some people have no idea, Despite her country twang, Loretta knows how to say Porsche. “I’d say it’s a certainty.”
And we’re right. We’re getting out of her car as the Douche Brothers head over to the fastest banana on the roadeyes all over the Barracuda’s cherry red paintwork. And possibly our legs.
Loretta’s halfway to the bathroom when I see I have a problem. “Hey!”
She turns and grins. “I was waiting for that.”
“Behind the license plate.”
And sure enough that’s where the gas goes in.
If anything Loretta’s new shorts are cut off even higher than her sister’s were, but they’re not as tight. I don’t feel quite so much like a gynecologist now. She sees me looking and twirls. “You like?”
“Very much, you look positively demure.”