“Sorry. These aren’t the roads for any lone woman to be picking up a man she doesn’t know.”

“I get it” I reply, my tone is rational, logical. “Any idea how far it might be?” I ask, now hopeful and reasonable.

“Probably another 12 miles, there’s a crossroads, with a garage on one corner and a Motel on the other.”

“Okay, thanks, I can do that. Three hours walking.”

“Have you got water?” she’s asking. She wants to help.

“Some, yes, thanks.”

“Okay, well if you wanted, you could throw your jacket in here and I could leave it at the gas station for you, save you walking in it. And I can let them know you’re coming. I mean, who knows, they might even come out for you.”

I think on this for a second, her engine idling, and where, underneath the exhaust note, I can make out the feint, unmistakable sound, of some Motorhead tune leaking out low from the FM Radio.

I smile. Thinking, she’s so like you. Her eyes, her hair, her cheekbones and lips, her honeyed smile and her slender frame. “You know you really remind me of someone.” I blurt out.

“Yeah, you too. Believe me, I wouldn’t have pulled up else.”

She’s looking right into my eyes, wondering what more I’m going to say, but I’m just smiling and enjoying this surreal moment.

“So, do you want to carry that jacket, or trust me with it?”

I snap out of my daydream. “Er, yeah, thanks, that’ll help”

I empty my pockets, fold up the heavy leather jacket and push it through the open passenger window, and onto the empty passenger seat.

“Okay, good luck” she smiles, as the passenger window closes.

I step back from the passenger door, her eyes leaving mine to reconnect with the road. She sinks her foot down into the gas pedal, the engine rumbles, her rear wheels dig in, and the car launches forward with purpose. The FM radio cranks back up, and I catch Lemmy screaming: “And don’t forget the joker!” As she gradually disappears into the distance.

~ XVII ~

“Liam” you murmur his name in your sleep and your therapist makes a note. Fascinated with curiosity and wanting to know where you are inside your dream.

You’re turning down the radio, letting Lemmy fade to a whisper. Easing your foot off the gas and squeezing the brake, peering through the windshield and wondering, could it really be?

You know the outline is mine. The smile and the eyes.

You roll down the passenger window.

“Hey you” you try, excited, flustered. It’s been so long.

“Hey fox” I’m calm, composed, smiling, as if the two of us running into each other out here was inevitable.

“Did your bike break down?” you ask, your eyes glancing around me to where the two-wheeled frame of black and chrome sits behind, looking like a tethered iron horse, an outlaw.

“Ran out of gas, crazy, huh?”

“What do you want to do, honey?”