Life twisted into a redundant, unpleasant routine after I moved in with Andy. I felt like fate was leaving hints, notes taped to the back of my heart, whispers over the phone line of my mind that all was not right. And it was time to make it so. Time to go. I wasn’t made to always be walking around some other person’s temper. Bargaining to go out to the movies. Punished with drama if I wanted to go out to eat somewhere besides Louie’s Bar and Grill.
Andy came back from the store—only God and he knows where Andy actually went because groceries he did NOT return with—and feigned innocence as to the whereabouts of my wallet and keys. I’d say it was the last straw, but it was really more like one of those log cabins made of Popsicle sticks, and a camel just smashed it. It’s a mixed metaphor, but that was the perfect way to describe my relationship with this guy, the work I was doing at the library, and everything about my time in Tuscon.
“Really?” I crossed my arms and stared him down.
“Yeah, really,” Andy whipped his head back nonchalantly as he passed me. “Figure your shit out, Carrie. You need to designate a spot for your keys and stuff.” He dragged a Coors out of the fridge and sauntered into the bedroom to pull his computer out of his bag.
I waited until I was pretty sure he wouldn’t notice and slipped out the front door. I had no keys, so I couldn’t lock it behind me. I didn’t care. I set out from our rental for nearly five years with no wallet, no cell phone, only a ten dollar bill tucked in my front jeans pocket. I figured I could get a Mountain Dew and a phone call with it, at least. The early summer heat rose from the concrete like the special effects for a witch bringing ill portent. Wasps were already out, buzzing their hateful little chant, but aside from that there was nothing wrong with Tucson, or the house, or the job. There was plenty wrong with Andy as I now knew, but there was also plenty wrong with me. I walked out to the main road, determined to walk it straight to Gramond.
It’s really too dangerous for a chick to hitch hike, anyway.
I’d been walking on the bypass about forty-five minutes when a gray Corolla drove by in the pinkening light cast by a sunset about to happen. Dirt and road debris kicked up into my mouth and eyes. “Thanks, freak!” I screamed at the car as its lopsided break lights lit up.
Oh, God. Oh, jeez. Please don’t let it be him.
The vehicle’s break lights blinked, the driver’s side one only partly functional, and the car slowed to a stop.
Christ, it’s him. What do I do?
The car backed up and my worst fear confirmed itself as Andy’s head popped above the car’s roof. He waved and beamed the smile I used to think was cute, infectious, and that I later defined as simpering.
“Jesus, what are you doing out here? It’s too dangerous for a chick to hitchhike! God, Carrie, you’re always doing dumb stuff like this. I was gonna drive you if you’d just waited.”
That’s not true, you left me at the house and took my cell phone, dick. Something nagged at the back of my mind as I considered his offer. A tiny, whispering voice begged in the back of my mind. This is a mistake.
What was more dangerous? Letting Andy drive me around the bypass, or the unknown driver the next car would hold? At least I was pretty sure Andy couldn’t seriously hurt me. Considering the relatively abandoned state of this bypass, I would probably have to walk all the way to Gramond. It was a less savory idea than it had been an hour before.
I patted down my jeans and T-shirt- clean until I struck out to walk since Andy took my phone and wallet with him to go to the “store.” It was such a frigging Andy maneuver.
Now I was covered in road dust and staring this guy down. “I want my wallet and my cell phone.”
Andy looked like he was having to placate a toddler screaming for a toy. “Sure. I found them at the house. You obviously didn’t look very hard. They were right on the counter.”
He held up my phone.
“OK,” I relented, shouldering my bag as I approached the Corolla. “But I swear, on my heart and soul, if you mess with me, I will make you relive this night as long as I’m alive.”