When they finally settled down for the night, Gina was feeling playful. She climbed on top of her man in the dark, then leaned in for his neck. As she lightly dug her teeth in, as he had done a few times himself to her, he suddenly yelped.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, concerned. He just started laughing.
“Oh, my gosh,” he said between breaths. “Baby, this is so stupid. I started thinking that this is the perfect place to kill me with no one knowing, and that you were a vampire preparing to drink my blood.”
It was the hardest she had laughed since the intern uncovered her.
“Heart Shaped Box” actually came on the radio as they crossed a bridge to a small town in Missouri. It was the first fun they had had in the past hour, as every road seemed to take them further away from the highway. When they turned down a muddy fire road, Lewis finally stopped, evaluating the map dizzily. He spied a bicyclist coming their way, and decided to try escaping futility by asking.
The mountain biker was an American Thai girl who had trained with the Girl Scouts overseas. “Of course, a lot of what
I learned over there doesn’t really apply over here,” she said, “but if you need a knot!”
“I’m Lewis, and this is Gina,” he said, shaking hands.
“Well, I write reviews for classical music, so more people call me ‘the Opera Smorg’ than anything else!” said the Smorg.
She encouraged them to check their fluids and tires while stopped. She gave them good directions and even recommended the best gas and garage as well as a place with delicious Pho, then another with barbecue complete with JB & B’s sauce. She happily explained she was on a sixty mile course for the day. “I’m usually more wary with people in cars from out of state, but you felt safe,” she explained.
“Oh, I have my kidnap victim quota for this trip already,” Lewis joked, hugging Gina.
“He even got me to marry him,” she said, playing along. The Smorg congratulated them.
Their Pho experience took care of the late lunch; it was a real surprise to find such cuisine in Missouri. They picked up a bit of the ‘cue for the road, and were licking it off their fingers in a tiny town in Arkansas when they stopped to call Von, who invited them to crash in Birmingham.
They availed themselves of Troy’s road treat while they stood on a corner in downtown at eight o’clock at night, unnoticed. They gave in to an urge to try a malt on their way out of town, as an entire busload of high school kids packed the place immediately afterwards. As they cruised the back roads, “Show Me the Way” and “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton came on the radio. With only the stars of Middle America and the endless trees and road as their companions, they held hands and told each other how much they loved one another. The highway picked up with interstate, leading them to a cozy hotel with a hilarious, furiously vibrating bed, which barely stayed in place as it rattled for seven minutes. It was their first real bed now in almost a month. They put it to good use.
Late the next night, an attempt to break the boredom had led Gina to some frisky behavior, which she thought made a great tease for their eventual stop. Her passenger side show got a vigorous honk from a passing truck, much to their delight. Lewis had been looking for a way out of the dejection that haunted their trip back, complete with road fatigue. Their flirtation led him to drop a suggestion, as he pulled off the interstate to wind his way into a rural neighborhood.
“Making love in the front yard,” he said, “if you are up to it?”
“Sweetie! Naughty!” she said, wagging a finger. “Dirty Boy, that’s what we have hotels for.”
“I’m sure I’ll find out,” she teased, as he took her lack of protest as acquiescence. Lights out, they rolled up into a long driveway, and took out a blanket beneath the stars. Their newly-found passion still had all the appeal of a shiny new toy. Soon he was kissing her deeply on the blanket.
“I don’t mean to rush you,” she said, taking off her top, “but I’m pretty sure I should!”
“All ready here,” he said, unbuttoning his jeans on her, the ones she had adopted after they awakened in Nashville. He kissed her neck urgently, and ran his fingers down over her belly and waist. He flung off his sneakers, carried away with the gesture. Her breathing pressed every button necessary. There was little need to wait.
She cried out in pleasure beneath the night sky. The sound of the dog got closer.
“Was that light on?” he asked, looking at the faint glow by a sliding window door.
“If you have to ask,” she said, reaching for her underwear.
“Okay, that dog is definitely coming across the yard,” he said, leaping to his sock feet. Without dressing, she scooped up everything else. He helped her gather the blanket and a shoe. Like a shot, they sped back to the open door of the Corolla.
The keys were still in the ignition, which hit off quickly. The dog, sure enough, was beside the car, fit to be tied. Without turning on the lights, Lewis backed up the driveway and out onto the road.
Their chests heaved from the delirious double duty. What a strange visitation, for those people. Would they realize?
“Baby? Did you just leave a shoe in their yard?”
“Uhm…I guess I did, if it’s not in the back floor board!” he said. “Man. Good thing that’s an old pair. He was slipping back into his pants, shirtless, while trying to drive to the interstate.
“You have spares, and your hiking boots, at least!”
“Looks like somebody’s dog,” he said, “just got a new chew toy!”