I was happy until I saw the blood. Then I became frightened.
I had wanted to see the world before college. There isn’t much for a farm girl in rural Iowa. Paul came to me like a rescuing angel outside of Yellowstone. He changed my flat tire. I gave him a ride. We were both going the same direction; which was nowhere, and everywhere. Just sightseeing.
I felt safe with him.
He had the deepest eyes I’d ever seen. I found myself lost in them when he told me stories of his childhood, his voice a deep Wyoming drawl.
He listened to me when I talked and made me feel important. We wanted to go to Paris.
We shared a bed for the first time in Boise.
A month later I was alone in a motel outside of Oklahoma Flats. It was dark. The TV news told of a jeweler who had been robbed. He’d been shot. There were sirens in the distance, red and blue lights flashing on the streets. I was scared.
Paul came home. There was a spatter of blood on his sleeve. It wasn’t his.
He kissed my cheek. “Hey Babes. Let’s get packed and hit the road. Tomorrow night we’ll be in Cancun.”
I went into the bathroom and locked the door. My chest felt tight, my eyes hot. My father was a jeweler.
I sat on the commode, my denim skirt about my waist, my panties on the floor. They were pink with red hearts. Paul had bought them for me at Victoria’s Secret. I shuddered. There was blood on his sleeve. Blood that shouldn’t have been there. And on my panties where there should have been blood, there wasn’t any. A wave of nausea washed over me.
I wanted to go home.
I couldn’t drive to Cancun. If I let him take me I knew that I’d be parted from my family forever. If I left with him, he’d never let me go home. I saw before me a long dark road that had no end.
I had to escape but didn’t know how.
Colored lights flashed against the tiny window. A spotlight illuminated the bushes outside.
I cried. Tears burned my cheek. “Oh God, I’m frightened. Don’t put me through this. Send him away without me. I’m scared.” I hadn’t prayed in months. I hoped God remembered my voice. “What if he hurts me, kills me?” I wiped my face on a towel. “Help me.“ I was terrified of losing the life I’d not yet lived. My hand moved across my belly.
I knew I was twisted in a web of my own making. He’d made me feel like a woman, but he’d shot a man. He’d given life, but he’d taken it, too. He’d been tender, but now was violent. Could I betray a man who’d given me so much? Could I risk my life trying to flee the darkness that had consumed him?
I had to turn him in, yet I wished we were back in Boise.
I stood and straightened my clothing. I opened the door and stepped out.
He was by the front window, staring into the night. He turned. “Hey Babes, I packed your things.” He nodded toward the suitcases by the door.
“Paul,” my voice was weak, “what’s going on?” Tears spilled again.
He came to me. “Hush now.” He wrapped his arms about me as my body trembled. “It’s ok. Don’t let the commotion scare you.” He kissed my head. “I’ll protect you.”
He rocked me back and forth and I slipped into his rhythm. His voice was soothing; a baleful calm washed over me. I was swept into his eyes as a darkness in me began to smolder.
I leaned against him and sighed. My trembling stopped.
He petted my hair. “Good news. After Cancun, I’m getting us tickets to Paris.” He lifted my chin and kissed me.
“Really?” I gasped. “You mean it?”
I took my suitcase and followed him outside. We’d always wanted to go to Paris.
We walked together to the car. It was chilly. I pressed myself against him. Something solid rammed my hip. It was in his coat pocket, metallic and cold.
I saw before me a long dark road that had no end.
A police cruiser stopped, the officers got out.
I wished we were in Boise.
I looked to them. “Help me!”
Paul turned and reached for his pocket.
I heard gunshots.
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