Rance looked at the speedometer. Set at 65 and on cruise control ,which he was fully aware of - at least he should have been. He kept looking anyway.
Every time he glanced at the speedometer , he had to lift the fingers of his right hand to see, as it was draped across the 12 to 1 o'clock Zone of the steering wheel in the most casual way ,causing his fingers, in drooping repose- to resemble an enormous back scratcher.
His left arm rested on the window sill at the elbow as he was experiencing a slightly manic episode of nerves, therefore he was doing his best to stretch his left ear lobe all the way down to his shoulder . Okay, maybe not that radical, but he was firmly in danger of removing the inner layer of skin from his earlobe with his rubbing thumb.
Quick glances to his right with darting eyes confirmed his fear . He also saw the absence of Largo's large grey head., so a quick backward glance into the rear of the camper- unintentional but habitual -allowed him to see that Largo was asleep beside stormy in the approximate territory each had staked out
It was as he was pulling his head back forward , that Piney glanced up from The Notebook to smile. There in the co-pilot seat , she sat gracing him with a warm smile , and as far as Rance could tell , those lips that smiled at him- so friendly -/were totally natural and uncolored, and if she were wearing any makeup at all ,it wasn't enough to cover the four or five little freckles just above the tip of her nose. The natural look gave her face that timeless look. She could have been anywhere from 18 to 25 or 30 he didn't really know and....he really didn't care .
It was noticing those walnut colored flecks, just outside the iris of her light ,hazel colored eyes that started causing him such personal turmoil. As it seemed - to his astonishment- that he seemed unable to detatch his own vision from those eyes., Until she looked back - that is.
First happening to him when she had accepted his offered ride and as she wss climbing into the copilot's seat. If it hadn't been for largo, who had instantly attached his chin onto her thigh ,she might have noticed how he was staring . Fortunately he was able to break it off but he was still self conscious of that effect she was having on him.
After he'd done the initial stumble in the parking lot , he had actually carried on with - amazingly enough -surprising clarity. It was in those 10 minutes that he had learned of her hometown and all of the time she had been on the road up to now. Which had been all of 30 miles.
It was that nagging voice that kept repeating - in the back of Rances mind- the thing that she had said. " I wasn't really planning to be stopping at that restaurant , but I had to get out of that car. Although the rest of what she said mattered , it was that part that kept resonating .
" Oh that guy ! "/She grumbled "was just getting creepier and creepier. The farther we went down the road , the bolder he got ,as he began to get handsy.
First , puting his hand on my knee and then a little bit later a little higher up my thigh." She shuttered as she spoke , in a pantomime inspired gesture before continuing. "It was after he pulled out that bottle and then started taking swigs that things got really bad. When we started coming around that long curve, just before we got to the restaurant he was unable to bother me and ,adjust for the curve, so he kept driving over into the other lanes. Then he over-corrected ,almost getting us killed by a semi that came barreling through in the slow lane. Laying on the horn as it swerved away to miss us, and then I knew I had to get the hell out of that car. Anyway possible.
" So right then I saw the restaurant sign and I tried to get the best lilt into my voice and the most calm that I could muster as I said "Hey! there's the place I'm supposed to play tonight. Pull over ..right here! RIGHT HERE!!!"
But in his slow, befuddled ,drunk and almost run over brain he stopped right in the middle of the slow lane . " Where we at?"
"We're at the place I'm playing guitar music tonight " She said -that she told him this - to keep his attention so she could wrestle the guitar case out of the back seat ,over the seat back and out the doorway of the car. Then just as she had it ready to pull through the open doorway she reluctantly said " Thanks for the ride." Then with a little thought and ****** attitude " yeah ...I'll be playing here tonight at 8 o'clock , so why don't you come by and listen" she lied
A bit perturbed and confused but he was still able to find his inner creep as he spoke.... muttered .....gutterally.... whatever "Yeah I'll do that and then me and you can have a drink and I got a little Coke " then he did that drunken kind of wink where they end up opening their mouth in such a crooked fashion that it looks like a stroke victims Visage
" Where is a fly when you need one ". Piney said that then she pulled the guitar case on through the doorway , wrestling it the 10 feet over to the grassy apron of the road . Returning to close the door as he asked "what did ja say?
"Oh . I said I've always wanted to give Coke a try " and with that she closed the door -/just short of a slam.
" You got it ba "...as he pointed his right forefinger like a pistol, but if it went off Piney never heard as she trundled her case across the grass area in the most direct route towards the building and the safety of people.
At this moment she was still in the process of confirming the abject fear that had Rances heart doing flip-flops, as he was aware that she was still sitting there ,reading his poetry.
As soon as she had settled into the copilots seat, allowed Storm and Largo to introduce themselves and as they happily filed her smells away. Storm returned to his spot after just a half of a minute while Largo, on the other hand gently lay his head on her leg and for all appearances seemed to go into a trance.
She confidently rubbed his head as she spoke in a slight cooing sound then looking up at Rance as he was guiding them out the parking lot and did the cruelist thing possible . As polite as a butterfly landing on the petal of a flower she asked if she might read some.
To which Rance had said "Sure , go ahead " and then began trying to do damage to his left earlobe. After 30 miles he was beginning to catch up with his runaway thoughts.
Any remnants of sua da vi that he had mustered up in the parking lot , now long gone -evaporated. Unfortunately now it was being replaced by a carrousel of thoughts in poor Rances mind that spun to the cacophony of music from the most sinister sounding Calliope.
Though the music blasted a torrential sound wave throughout his mind it was not enough to silence the voice that kept repeating " oh man oh man oh man" - with annoying and echoing persistance - from an obscure region--, somewhere beyond the Swirling carrousel.
Then suddenly the crazy carnival and the voice came to a sudden mind shuttering stop.as piney's soft velvety voice interceded. " you wrote these...i mean ...all of them ?"
A quick glance towards Piney was enough to.see this fresh faced girl with those magnetic eyes- now filled to overflowing with tears - was looking at him in a wonderfilled way as she held the open notebook in right hand and with the other she stroked largos head.,Which had rematerialized.on her lap , just as soon as her voice had broken the relative silence.
" He really likes you" remarked the reemerging Rance ,as he indicated Largo with his head. 'And yes I did ...write .....yeah all of them." Not really smooth he said to himself ..but okay.
" This one " Piney pointed to a page that Rance could not take time to recognize " Somber Sunset. Its killing me....my grandmother just went ...and went through Alzheimer's before she passed. "
Rance was still staring out the windshield, in silent astonishment - at her perception- when Piney gathered herself to the point of unbroken speech. " that is what its about ...right ?"
Rance turned a full face ..straight on and confident gaze into her tear glissening eyes ( sua DA vi having returned full force) "Yes " he softly acknowledged her perceptivity" as I read it ...yes"
Thats when that annoying voice decided to reassert itself . " There is always something about a damsel in distress that always brings out even the most quivering coward ...." SHUT THE HELL UP!! Lance barked out at the voice as he stared out the windshield while making a slight adjustment to avoid.a small box in the road.
At that very moment the sleeping Storm opened his eyes to stare forward with both ears and eyes , as if he had heard his masters voice call out in angry distress. With no danger detected as he scanned the area, he was about to resume his squirrel watching -which had just gotten good before the interruption -/Storm let his eyes scan around and land on Largo ." Humans "he spoke to himself " good thing they're smart enough to befriend dogs. Now that Largo...that's a dog that poor Rance could learn a thing or two from." Then he closed down his eyes and calling out "squorrely come on squirrel where'd ya go" as his slight snore began and his right rear leg began twitching.