Chapter 4: Eye in the mirror, Winnebago pursuit, the beach hotel.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 360

Chapter 4

 He wasn’t quite sure, but as he saw her through the reflection of the window, Sam’s make-up seemed confused somewhere between nobility’s heaven and a truck driver’s hell.  He quickly found out neither was correct.

She rushed toward the front door and turned back to the waitress, “He stuck his eye right up against the mirror knowing I’d see him.  Goddamn pervert.Hadn’t better be the owner, ‘cause when I tell the police, you’re gonna be out more than that mirror I smashed.”  She turned toward Max, “and don’t even think about payin’ for the lousy coffee.  We’re outa’ here.  Now!”

She ran to the car.  Max, somewhat embarrassed, looked toward the ladies room, then the waitress, who was still petrified to move and took out $10.00 and left it on the table.  As he passed the waitress, “Sorry for the disruption.  I’m sure it’s… nothing.”  He smiled and sauntered out the door toward God only knew.  Max was not sure what was going on.  He hadn’t seen her go to these extremes in a long time.  Probably just playing around.  Sure.  Just playing around.  After all, what does an eye pressed up against a mirror mean anyway?

Trying to ignore the possibility of something more, he slid in behind the wheel without looking at her. “I’ve seen you better, but it wasn’t bad acting for a Mexican café.”  He started the engine and glanced over at her.  She had her dark glasses on and was staring into the vanity mirror.

“See him?” she said without taking her eyes from the mirror.

“See him?” Max turned around to a vacant lot.  He turned back and smiled.  “I see only my wife.  Hello.  My wife who’s on her honeymoon with…”

“If you have any respect for me, you’ll start moving.  He’s not going to wait.”

Max pulled out onto the highway.  “Okay.  I respect you and…” he reached down and pushed the CD player button.  “…we’ll relax and take in some late afternoon sun and be at the hotel by…”

Sam reached over and gripped his hand.  “Please, I know this is unusual, but you weren’t in that ladies room.”  She looked over her shoulder, then quickly turned back.  “Can this antique outrun a motor home?”

Max glanced in his rear view mirror.  In the distance was a common Winnebago.  He smiled back at her, “Probably not.  ’57 wasn’t a great year for Bentley’s horse power.”

“Please don’t patronize me, Max.  He’s gaining.”

“Oh, for God sake, Sam.  This has gone far enough.” 

She looked over her shoulder again.  “Maybe for you, but not for him.”

Max looked into the mirror, then over his own shoulder.  The Winnebago was closing the gap.  His eyes were now on Sam, this time with more tolerance.  “Was there really someone “Tomin’” you back there?”

“As in peeping… yes.”

“You’re sure?  An eye up against the mirror?  I don’t get it?

“The mirror was older than God.  Defective, blistered and defective layers of, hell I don’t know how they make mirrors.  Just distorted glass.  He was on the other side in the men’s room staring at my face.  God, I leaned in to mascara my…

“This isn’t just…”

She looked at him.  She knew the “questioning” look.  “No.  Why would I lie about such a thing?”

Max held his eyes ahead, then at her, then at the Winnebago that was gaining speed.

“Why would you lie?  You’re asking me why would you lie?”

He looked again in the mirror, then pressed his foot to the accelerator.

Sam took out a long chiffon scarf and wrapped her head.

 

Inside the cab of the Winnebago, the driver reached over with his pudgy hand and turned the hard rock music up on his radio. 

“That’s not very conducive to thinking,” came the almost whispered reaction from the passenger seat.  It was a firm, decisive and curiously young voice.

“You think, too?” said Burt with a nervous smile as he adjusted the volume.  “Tourists usually just talk.”

“And hired drivers usually just drive,” came the reply.  The hand holding the stylus atop the iPad was delicate in contrast to Burt’s.  The image coming to life on the screen was difficult for Burt to figure out, even after several glances.  “I’m not a tourist, and this is how I talk,” said the 28-year-old with the quiet voice.

Aristotle was every bit unusual.  About the only thing common about him was his five-foot ten-inch height.  With his dark eyes, prematurely silver hair and soft-spoken voice, he could easily arrest attention as well give a chill to those with a bit of paranoia in their systems.

Burt shifted his glance.  “You do a lot of work with that stick of yours.”

Ari continued staring out the windshield at the white Bentley traveling several hundred yards in front of him. His face appeared to have been architecturally created for the pure sake of framing two eyes that gazed out from their windows like glistening solar panels; eyes that needed very little of life’s raw energy to convert strokes of swirling, disconnected pixel energy into a powerful language of abstractions.

“This ‘stick’ is a digital tool, Mister...”

“Burt.  Name is Burt.”

“Burt?  Mister Burt.  Okay with me.  You ever try to paint… Burt?”

“Nah.”

“Ever try to draw?”

“Nah.”

“Then you probably wouldn’t understand what it’s like to work images of thought… digitally.

“I guess pretty hard in a truck,” said Burt with a chuckle.

“That’s not what I meant, “ came the reply.  It wasn’t said with any sarcasm or rancor.  The voice remained pleasant, matter of fact. 

Burt pondered a moment.  He carries on so calm and confident and it’s making me squirm and I don’t quite know how to respond.  “I just thought the bouncing and all…”

His passenger didn’t answer.  The young man just kept starring out the windshield and¾with what appeared to be intuitive strokes of his stylus across the iPad¾smeared and changed the photographic images into abstract shapes that seemed to be void of any coherence.  At least that is how Burt saw it as he continued to switch his attention back and forth from the road to the iPad screen.

The pause was long, much longer than Burt was used to.  He knew Tourists. He’d been the Tourist Guide’s guide for years.  He knew the Baja Coast like the back of his hand and was known by all the merchants, hotels and other tourist traps from the Mexican border all the way to Cabo San Lucas.  As the preeminent guide, he knew tourists usually just talked.  Burt liked talkers to help keep him awake when he took on driving jobs.  This passenger was not much of a talker.

“Bouncing is irrelevant,” said Ari.

“What?”

“I said the bouncing doesn’t matter.”

Now it was Burt’s turn to pause.

“Okay.  So… what did you say your name was?”

“I didn’t.”

“Mind if I ask?”

“No.”

Burt waited, but the young man left it at that.

“Boy, you are a strange one.  I usually get hired to drive or guide and to hear your stories or whatever… you know, to keep the old eyelids open?”

“Wouldn’t you say there’s enough money in your pocket to keep you awake? Burt flashed another glance at the stranger who was finally looking down at his work.  “Well, yeah.  Guess you could think of it like that,” said Burt.

“‘Could’ nothing.  It is like that.  A thousand dollars says I kinda picked you to drive ‘cause I want to work."

Burt smiled and nodded.  “Yep.  I guess you kinda did.”

The young man picked up the iPad and waved the screen in front of Burt.  “What do you think?  Is it her?”

Shades of gray and black were crosshatched like fragmented pieces of wicker, but through the lines, Burt could see something like a face and said, “The woman’s face in that photo you took back at the last stop, right?”

“You know how to say the right thing, but is it her?”

Burt sheepishly dropped his chin.  “I’m just a driver, man.  I ain’t no art critic.”

Ari looked out the windshield at the Bentley that was but a speck in the distance.  He idly used his touch screen to rotate the sketch for Burt to look at—vertical to horizontal to vertical.  For Burt, each turn revealed another hidden expression of Samantha; to the young artist, the turns revealed tortured questions wanting to break through the bonds of the thatched confinement.  Still watching the white dot in the distance, he powered down the iPad and closed its leather cover.


Submitted: November 16, 2006

© Copyright 2021 Odin Roark. All rights reserved.

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