Last November I failed at NaNoWriMo. I had a seed of an idea that very grudgingly allowed me to create an outline, but when I started to write, it turned wrong. I was writing in the first person and my narrator’s kid was kidnapped. It was awful. Not bad writing; it was awful to write. I had to stop.
I went back to the seed of an idea and started writing without an outline, trying to get from Point A to Point B and getting thoroughly bored in the process.
So I gave up.
Today I went back to read the 5400+ words I got in…. and you know? Not only is it not terrible, but it actually might be salvageable. If I can figure it out. An outline would probably help. Just maybe.
So here it is, in its unedited entirety… Oh, and sorry about the cliffhanger, I was just disgusted and walked away.
As I crouched in the dust behind a long-unused water trough, the memory of something Erik once said came back to me. “Jess, If you ever find yourself in a gunfight, shoot to kill. So much would have gone wrong already.” He nailed that last part, but I didn’t know if I could make that choice now.
We had been watching Mythbusters, and certainly the point of the segment was that shooting a gun out of someone’s hand was possible, but very difficult. When my boyfriend made his oddly serious pronouncement I had laughed. How in the world would an urbanite like myself end up in a gunfight? I’d never even held a gun.
But here I was, at, of all places the OK Corral, and I didn’t see how I could follow his advice. Or how I could bear the consequences of getting this all wrong.
Maybe I should back up. So many strange things led up to my unlikely roll in Tombstone that I hardly know where to begin. Maybe it would be best if I just went back to the last time things were normal.
I guess the last normal thing I did was go to bed on a Friday night. Erik was out of town, so I went to bed alone and was asleep before midnight. In retrospect it’s probably good that I got a good night’s sleep that night.
I was shook awake rather roughly and I screamed before my assailant came into focus. Even when I recognized Wendy, I was still confused. I live alone, I don’t expect to be awakened like that.
“Are you awake?” Wendy demanded.
“I don’t know!” I said shrilly, still disoriented. “Wendy, what are you doing here?”
She held up a key on a shoestring tied around her neck. “Erik gave me a key a while back,” she said.
“To my apartment?” I said, bewildered. I could understand Erik giving his sister a key to his place.
“Oh yeah,” Wendy said, distractedly, “He didn’t want to lose his key and be locked out. Some male pride thing, I guess.”
I blinked several times. Wendy’s explanation made a weird kind of sense, if you knew Erik. He hates to be embarrassed. He’s also moderately forgetful. Secretly giving his sister a copy of his key would be forward thinking, in a paranoid sort of way.
“But why are you here now?” I pressed, trying to get to the point.
“You have to come to Tahoe with me,” Wendy said. “Get dressed.”
“Why on earth would I want to go to Tahoe?” I protested. Wendy had struck me in the past as a little out there. I’m not saying I disliked her, but she wasn’t exactly a friend. Just my boyfriend’s sister.
Wendy was looking out the window as I spoke. When she turned towards me, her head moved so fast that it spun her long dark hair into a fan for a moment. She looked intense, but said, in a light voice, “C’mon, it’ll be fun!”
I frowned doubtfully at her. “What’s really going on here, Wendy?”
She made a face, then turned her hazel eyes to mine. “An old friend is there,” she said. “Someone I haven’t seen for a long time. Who knows when I’ll have another chance? But… I need emotional support. Erik is out of town, so he can’t be there for me. But it occurred to me that him being away meant you were free…” she trailed off, looking a little vulnerable as she continued to look at me hopefully.
“Do you have a place to stay up there?” I asked. I wasn’t enthused about the idea of accompanying her, so I wasn’t saying ‘we’ yet.
“Oh yeah,” Wendy said breezily. “For both of us,” she added rather more pointedly.
I sighed. “Just one night, right? Back tomorrow so I can go to work on Monday, all that good stuff?”
“Oh, yeah,” Wendy repeated absently, looking out the window again. “Listen, can you get up already? Let’s go!”
I laughed helplessly and got to my feet. I grabbed some clothes and went to the bathroom to change out of my jammies. I dressed for comfort and utility. Jeans, socks, hiking boots, long sleeved shirt and a fleece pullover. Maybe I wouldn’t need the fleece, but I was always cold in the morning. I quickly took care of all preparation that could occur in the bathroom, and then took a small plastic pouch from a cupboard under the sink and stuffed various toiletries in it.
When I came out of my bathroom, Wendy was still sitting on my bed, staring out the window in a listless way. I went to my closet and got a large purse – very nearly a piece of luggage – from a hook, then scooped up my usual purse. I transferred things from one purse to the other, then put the toiletries in the large shoulder-bag as well. After a thoughtful moment, I added a pair of socks and some panties to the bag as well. I went and stood in front of Wendy. She had ceased her staring out the window and was swinging one foot, watching it in blank absorption. The foot, like it’s mate, was clad in rainbow toe-socks worn with Birkenstocks. I watched her foot swing for a moment, too, almost fascinated. I lifted my gaze to take in the rest of her and found that her attire was harmonious – if that was the right word – with her footwear. She wore a long flowing burgundy dress which might be called “tea length” if one weren’t looking at Wendy. She wore a purple scarf that clashed horribly with the color of the dress and an oversized army surplus coat over it all. She looked like she should be hustling change at Haight and Ashbury.
She finally noticed my feet in her frame of vision. She looked up at me and said, “Oh, finally ready, are you?”
I laughed helplessly again and nodded. She got to her feet in a smooth graceful motion. Once on her feet she suddenly seemed to snap into focus. “This is going to be epic,” she said, and dashed out of my room, calling over her shoulder, “Come on!”
I followed her, gazing wistfully at my coffee maker as I passed the kitchen on the way to the front door. Wendy was way ahead of me. I hastily locked the door and only got my hand on the car door handle before Wendy had it started. As I opened the door she said – rather unnecessarily, I thought – “Get in, get in, let’s go!”
I slid in and fastened my seat-belt. “Can we stop for coffee?” I asked.
“Uh huh,” she replied, apparently intently focusing on driving. I realized in a couple of minutes that she was heading for the freeway.
“Um… coffee?” I said. Don’t make me hurt you, I thought. Depriving me of coffee was going too far.
“Just hang on!” Wendy said irritably, as if my need for coffee was trivial. She pulled onto the freeway, heading north.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, so what’s so weird about all this? Surely being deprived of coffee by a possibly insane psuedo-relative isn’t really, in the grand scheme of things, all that strange? There’s a simple answer: I’ve been easing you into it.
As we got up to speed on the freeway, I sighed and pulled my phone out of my pocket. I started a text to Erik, intending to tell him that I had been hijacked by his sister and he owed me one. Wendy glanced at the phone in my hand and said, “What are you doing?”
“Telling Er–” I started, but Wendy snatched the phone from my hand and threw it out the window.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I yelled. I was pretty sure the insurance on my phone didn’t cover being chucked out of a speeding car.
“Oh, relax,” Wendy said, and laughed lightly.
I just stared at her. She glanced at me occasionally, but seemed content and said no more. Finally I said, “Wake me up when there’s coffee,” and I reclined the seat and closed my eyes. Long parades of swear words rolled through my brain. Profanity and little else.
Is that weird enough for you?
It was for me. I kept my eyes shut tight and recited a litany of vulgar words over and over, as a sort of mantra. It didn’t help me relax, but it was the only thing I could think of to do. I wanted Erik to come to my rescue, but even if he were in town, Wendy had now made contacting him impossible. I wondered if I had any change in my purse. Then I wondered if I actually knew anybody’s phone number. I kept all that stuff in my phone’s memory, not my brain’s. And now my phone was crushed plastic somewhere on the freeway. I ground my teeth and started my rude mantra again.
I opened my eyes when I felt the motion of the car change. We were getting off the freeway. I wasn’t sure where, though. We hadn’t been traveling long, but this was in the middle of nowhere. A couple of competing truck stops seemed to be the only reason to get off the freeway here. Wendy pulled up to a pump and told me I could get coffee now. I climbed out of the car and slung my bag over my shoulder. I stalked across the parking lot and into the large convenience store. I found a pay-phone and started fumbling for my wallet while I tried again to think of anyone whose number I knew. The only number that came to mind was the local taxi company. I picked up the phone and dialed the number, waiting to be told how much to feed it. When I heard the amount I was shocked. I hung up the phone and looked for its number. Ah, nice one Wendy, I thought, we’re in another area code now. I didn’t have enough coins for a long-distance call, so I was stuck for now. Maybe I’d come across one of those phones you can pay for with a credit card.
Frowning with frustration and the beginnings of concern, I went to the coffee counter and poured myself a large cup, seasoning it liberally. Erik likes to joke that the coffee isn’t the important part for me, it’s just to make the rest go down more smoothly. I picked up a pastry and went to pay for the stuff. As I walked out the door I had this sudden terror that Wendy would be gone, but she was still there, just now taking the pump’s nozzle out of her tank. I headed for the passenger door and Wendy said, “Where’s my coffee?”
I spun around and snarled, “In the store, waiting for you to buy it.”
She looked taken aback. I really think she was ignorant of my state of mind, but I suppose it might just have been that she didn’t care. She seemed about to speak, but then turned and went into the store. I got myself settled in the passenger seat and then looked around hurriedly to see if she might have left her phone in the car. I didn’t see it. I sipped my coffee and wondered if it was really going to help my mood at this point. I might have handled the preceding events better if I had been allowed a leisurely coffee infused morning. But now that I’ve been beaten with all of that, was the coffee going to be the answer? I didn’t know, but it tasted good.
Wendy got back to the car a few minutes later, and carefully placed her coffee cup in one of the cup-holders. I was glad there were two, as I wanted both hands free to eat my danish. As I opened the package I looked side-long at Wendy, but she was pulling a similar pastry out of one of the many large pockets of her voluminous coat. She ate hers in about four huge bites, but whether this was because she wanted her hands free for driving or because she was a pig, I couldn’t tell. And I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable right then. I ate my own danish more decorously. We were back on the freeway before I was half done.
Wendy drove silently, focusing intently on the road. After a few minutes she seemed to become aware of my scrutiny. “We’ll take 99 through Stockton and then get on I-80 in Sacramento,” she informed me. As if I cared.
After fuming in silence for a few more miles I said, “Why are you kidnapping me?”
She turned a genuinely surprised face to me for a moment before looking back at the road. “Kidnapping you?” she said. “Like, I forced you to come?”
When she put it like that I had to admit that I had gotten in the car of my own will. Mostly. “You threw my phone out the window!”
“Well, playing with your phone isn’t very social,” she observed, although rather irrelevantly, I thought.
I spluttered for a few seconds, words like “playing” and “just wanted” and “but” coming through, but no actual sentences. I took a deep breath and let it out. I wanted to say something pertinent, anything, really. But after a moment I shut my mouth, defeated.
I stared out the window for a few miles. “Okay,” I said at last, “Tell me again why… we are going to Tahoe?”
Wendy looked a little shifty. “So I can see my friend,” she said vaguely.
“This ‘friend’,” I pressed. “A special friend?”
This time Wendy glanced out her side window – a pointless thing to do, as she was in the left lane on a two-lane divided freeway. She flicked the quickest of glances at me and said, “Maybe.”
I rolled my eyes. “Wendy,” I said, “We have plenty of time to kill. Why don’t you tell me all about it?”
“Her name is Sara,” she said quietly.
Despite myself, my eyebrows went up. Hey, some of my best friends are gay, literally, but I had thought Wendy was straight. Getting my face under control, I thought back and realized that I had simply assumed she was hetero. I hadn’t known her long, but Erik certainly hadn’t mentioned that his sister was a lesbian.
Wendy was watching me. “I’m not a lesbian!” she said.
I blinked several times, then said, “Ohhhkay.”
“But Sara…” she said, then trailed off.
I was at a loss. Okay, I thought, she’s not a lesbian. ‘But Sara’ indeed.
I probably would have remained in a skeptical cloud of doubt – about everything – but Wendy decided to talk.
“Sara was…” she trailed off, searching for the right word. “Intense,” she said finally.
“Did – “ I paused, not sure I should ask. “Did you go out?” I asked quietly.
Wendy seemed to need to think about this. “N– no,” she said, but she seemed unsure about it. I decided this was a good time to keep my mouth shut and my face in a pose of polite interest. She went on, “We… we were close… but… she had a boyfriend at first. And then, when we had started to grow apart – well, she was so intense that it made me a little shy. And tired – she broke up with her boyfriend and the next thing we all knew, she was dating women.” Wendy turned her face from me as if looking out her window again, but kept her eyes on the road. After a few minutes she said, “She dropped out of school around then.”
“And you haven’t seen her since?” I asked. Then, suspicious, “Does she even know we’re on our way?”
“Of course!” Wendy said defensively. Then, musing, “I tried to track her down, over the years. Online, once the web existed. I never found a trace of her name.” She flicked a glance towards my face and our gazes locked for a moment. She immediately flushed and looked away. In almost a mumble she said, “A… a friend of mine has tried to find her before, too.”
I couldn’t help it, my eyebrows raised skeptically all on their own. Somehow – all while avoiding my gaze – she managed to notice it. “It’s true!” she said, misinterpreting me completely. “It was like… she never existed, except to us.”
I studied her profile while she drove. She blushed very slightly after her last comment, and then her face fell into a rebellious set. I don’t think she knew or cared what she might be rebelling against, as long as some rebelling was going on. “This… mutual friend,” I said, “She –?” I paused to see if Wendy would confirm my guess about this mutual friend’s gender. Wendy nodded curtly, and I went on. “Did you… date her?”
Wendy snuck an intense glare at me, before turning back to the road. I was getting tired of the paranoia. I said, “Look, Wendy, I don’t care if you’re straight, lesbian or bi, okay?”
She shot a suspicious glance at me and didn’t relax. I sighed. I waited to see if she would answer me.
Miles passed, but I didn’t have anything better to do, so I waited.
Wendy gave me a sidelong glance, then another. Then she said, “No, I never dated Jenn either.” She sounded both regretful and relieved, which amused me. I wished I’d known Jenn, to see what engendered such a dichotomous feeling.
“So… you found her then?” I asked. I had a feeling there was an interesting story here somewhere, but as yet it was shards of near nonsense.
Yet more shifty looks. I started to suspect the story was more than just “interesting.” I just hoped it wasn’t dangerous.
“Well,” Wendy said reluctantly, “Jenn found her.”
Once more I was reduced to merely blinking at her. I tried to find words to encourage her to expand, but all that happened was my mouth opened, hung that way for half a minute, and closed again.
She stole a sidelong glance at me. Vague emotions chased across her features, and she snuck another glance at me, but said nothing.
I sighed again, wondering if there had ever been a more difficult conversation that didn’t involve prisoners of war. I couldn’t suppress a groan. “Could you, like, tell me the damn story, Wendy?”
“I never noticed how negative you are before,” Wendy said.
I’ve never had to deal with you one-on-one before, I thought, or this might be more familiar. But I kept that thought to myself. I was very nearly at her mercy at this point. Maybe in a big city I could escape and find a rental car agency and get home that way. But right now I was in the middle of nowhere on Route 99; if Wendy took it into her head to abandon me, I’d have a long walk ahead of me.
I counted to ten silently. “I’m just irritable,” I said. “It’s been a bit of an odd morning and I’m trying to have a simple conversation with you and it’s like pulling teeth.”
“It’s not simple,” Wendy complained.
“Is there at least a ‘cliff notes’ version?” I asked, starting to despair.
Her eyes narrowed as she tried to decide whether or not to be offended. In my mind I said a quick prayer to Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles. Of course, Lord Ganesha is also a placer of obstacles, but I was trying to appeal to his good side.
Divine favor or coincidence, Wendy made up her mind and spoke. “Jenn and I never dated, but we kept in touch.” She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts. “Jenn moved up to Tahoe some years ago and now owns a coffee shop in King’s Beach. She called me last night and told me that Sara was in town, if I wanted to drive up and see her.”
Setting aside the fact that this explanation was defined as the “short version”, I still felt like she was being evasive somehow. I decided to let it go for the moment, though. Maybe she’d tell me more during the drive. We still had more than five hours of driving to do, at the minimum. And I had no idea what time it was because my phone was in pieces somewhere miles and miles behind me. I didn’t seem to be getting over my rage about that. Wendy still hadn’t explained that, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into another headache-inducing conversation with her just yet.
I stared dully out the window for a while. Then I said, “Does your stereo work? Some music might be nice.”
Wendy blinked a few times and then wordlessly she punched at the On button on her stereo. The music started mid-song, something by the Indigo Girls. Not a lesbian, indeed, I thought. Then scolded myself for stereotyping and firmly reminded myself that I liked this song.
Turning on the stereo also turned on the clock. In most cars, the clock is on regardless, but not this one. The clock read 10:23. So. Mid-afternoon we’d arrive in Tahoe. I wondered if I could catch a bus from there. I was almost certain I didn’t want to hang out for this ‘reunion’, as interesting as it was likely to be. I thought about the road ahead and wondered if there might be some earlier place I could run away. We would be passing through a few cities more than big enough to get lost in, if I was quick.
To my surprise, Wendy interrupted my black reverie. In a voice I almost had to strain to hear over the music and the road noise, she said, “Sara and Jenn and I all lived together once.”
I looked at her in surprise.
She quickly went on, “No, not like that. It was at college. There were four other women. Me and Sara and another woman had our own rooms, and the other four doubled up.”
Not knowing quite what to say, I asked, “How did the other women feel about y–” I caught myself, choked for a second – purely psychosomatic – and then said “about Jenn and Sara’s sexual orientation?”
Wendy gave me a sidelong glance and I knew she had noticed that I had almost said “your”. She decided not to remark on it. Instead she said, “That’s one of the weird things about this whole… thing.”
I raised an eyebrow at her and held it long enough to make sure she saw it. She did, but again ignored me. “Everyone seemed straight when we all moved in together. In fact, it remained that way for the whole time we all lived together. Sara and Jenn both had boyfriends.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say. I had questions, certainly, but almost too many to choose just one, and I was confident that all of them would be poorly received. I gazed out the window, in the grip of a strange emotion. It was a mixture of terror and boredom. I’ve read that it can be like that in war. I don’t think what I was feeling was exactly what I’d read about, though. Also the comparison struck me as melodramatic.
Maybe you think it’s odd that I was so scared. After all, Wendy was a small hippy-dippie woman. Well for one thing, never underestimate a woman who seems to be meek. Every one of them has a fuse burning inside her and gods help anyone nearby when that fuse burns to the end. Likewise, you must understand that under great stress, the darker parts of a person may come forward. In a way not dissimilar to how a wounded animal will try to attack anything that touches their wound even if it is to try to help, people under extreme stress might lash out, not caring – for the moment – who gets hurt. It doesn’t excuse the behavior; people are not animals. Or at least, we’re supposed to have a better grip on ourselves than that.
Here I was faced with a mild-mannered quiet woman under great stress. I wasn’t sure what was freaking her out so much, but that probably didn’t matter. The point was that she was already fraying at the edges, throwing my phone out the window. She might do anything.
And, of course, I was bored because the long road traveled through farmland, which I find monotonous after all a while. I didn’t have a book and, as mentioned once or twice, I couldn’t cure my boredom by playing with my phone because Wendy threw it out the damn window!
I would have tried to sleep, if I hadn’t been so scared.
We were near Modesto when Wendy’s phone rang. She fumbled it out of her pockets and I resisted an urge to grab it and throw it out the window. She answered with, “What?”
The side of the conversation I could hear went as follows, “I’m busy… I’m driving to Tahoe… How did you know?… Oh… No, no it’s not perfect, I can’t do it… Well, yes… But… But I… Oh fine. Text me your address. Pain in the ass… All right… Bye.”
Wendy sighed and put her phone back in her pocket. For a couple of miles I thought she wasn’t going to say anything to explain the call. But then she said, “We’re going to pick up Jenn’s cat from her friend Teresa’s house.” She sighed, “I have no idea what Jenn’s cat was doing there.”
“Where’s Teresa’s house?” I asked.
“Somewhere in Sacramento,” Wendy said vaguely.
I made an effort to conceal my growing excitement. I could go nearly anywhere from Sacramento. I noticed the road signage said we were getting close to Stockton. I could go nearly as many places from there. “I’m getting hungry,” I said.
“I’m not,” Wendy said grumpily.
“Well I am. C’mon, you have to let me eat!”
She gave me a strange look. “We’ll stop in a while, then,” she said.
“I’m sure there’s tons of places in Stockton,” I suggested.
“I’m sure there are,” she agreed. But when we came to Stockton, she did not exit the freeway. Perhaps she was suspicious of me. But if so, perhaps she wouldn’t notice that Sacramento was where my real hope lay. Not that I wouldn’t have made a run for it in Stockton, if the opportunity came up.
Some miles down the road there was another trucker oasis. Four or five different enormous gas stations, with one or two fast-food restaurants attached to the station’s convenience stores. Interspersed around the gas stations were the stand-alone fast-food restaurants. It seemed like all the big national chains were represented; I had only to choose. At least, if Wendy wasn’t going to be difficult.
I was kind of craving Wendy’s, but considering that was also the name of my unwanted host, I decided not to suggest it. “How about Jack in the Box?” I suggested. She shrugged and headed for the complex where it was. She pulled up to a gas pump and told me to go ahead, and don’t worry about getting anything for her. I wondered if her nerves were bothering her that much. Or perhaps she was on drugs and I hadn’t clued in. While that might explain a lot, I didn’t think it was the case.
I got myself a large cheeseburger and a shake, and headed back to the car. It wasn’t where I’d last seen it. For a moment I didn’t know whether to panic or celebrate, but then I saw that Wendy had pulled up to the store-front. I was relieved and disappointed. This conflicting-emotions thing was tiring.
The car was locked. I leaned against it sipping my shake until Wendy came out a few minutes later. She had a small bag from the store, nothing from the restaurant. She gave me a resentful look and unlocked the car doors with her remote. We got in, and I started unwrapping my burger. Wendy watched me for a moment, a look of mild distaste on her face. Then she gave a tiny shrug and opened her bag. She pulled out a bottle of water, a banana, and a granola bar. “I’m a vegetarian, you know,” she said, giving my burger a baleful look.
Actually, I had known that, but I had totally forgotten. I might have gotten two burgers if I had remembered, the better to taunt her with. Big burgers with bacon. I hid the evil smile my little fantasy engendered in me by taking a huge bite of the sandwich. As an after thought I said, “Mmmmmmm.”
Wendy turned her body in the seat so she was facing as much away from me as possible. She turned on the car and rolled down all the windows. Then she scarfed her banana and, after wiping her fingers carefully on her socks, opened up her granola bar, fastened her seat-belt and started to pull away. I scrambled to get my own belt fastened with full hands. I reached for the toggle to put my window up, but Wendy made a quick motion with one hand. I immediately discovered that she had switched the window controls to be only available to her. A lot of cars have this feature, so parents can keep their kids from messing with the windows.
I got about three bites from finishing the burger and stopped to consider whether or not I should continue. Wendy asked “Are you done yet?”
I said, “Well, I’m full, but I’m thinking about eating it…any…way,” I trailed off because she had grabbed my burger and thrown it out the window much like she had done with my phone. I looked hopefully in the side mirror for a CHP vehicle, but alas her littering went un-cited.
As I stared open-mouthed at her, Wendy rolled up the windows. “That smelled disgusting,” she said. I close my mouth and turned to look out my window. I sipped on my shake and reflected that perhaps I should be grateful she waited until I was almost done.
“Remind me again why I’m here?” I asked.
“I hardly know at this point. I was looking for emotional support,” she said with biting sarcasm.
“Well if you’re tired of me you can just let me out. In a town would be good, but as long as you slow the car down a bit…” I trailed off hopefully.
She gave me a quick puzzled look, then frowned at me. “Nope. You’re not getting out of this now,” she said. “You’re committed.”
I am? I thought with surprise. If anyone here is going to be committed, it should be you, I thought darkly in her direction. I pondered calling the police on her, going for a 72-hour hold. Then I remembered that the lunatic in question had thrown my phone out the window.
Okay, yes, I know I’m harping on about the phone, but seriously? That was really uncool.
“Well?” Wendy insisted.
I blinked several times. “’Well’ what?”
“You’re committed, right?” she pressed.
“Uh, no,” I said.
“Excuse you?” Wendy was astonished and outraged.
And I was out of patience. “You seem to be laboring under the impression that I am happy about this trip, that I want to be a part of it, and that I’m glad for your company,” I said. “None of those things is true.”
To my horror, her eyes filled with tears. Within moments she was sobbing uncontrollably. I panicked and grabbed the steering wheel, getting the car onto the shoulder. It slowly rolled to a stop – or a near stop; it didn’t halt completely because the brakes weren’t applied – as she wept. Then there were flashing blue lights in our mirrors. The CHP had pulled up behind us.
For one wild moment I thought, this is my chance. If I could get the cop to 5150 Wendy, I’d be free. And there’s something pretty convincing about breaking down into a crying so intense that you can’t drive. With a great sniffle, Wendy brought her tears to a halt and she looked anxiously into the mirror. She grabbed my hand, “Please shut up and don’t fuck this up!” she said, begging and ordering all at once. She gave my hand another squeeze then turned to the window where the officer was just appearing.