Molly's Revenge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two grifters meet up on a bus ride from seattle to los angeles. They get to know each other and help the other out but who is who in this world of scamming people. One reveals themselves to the other but the other holds out until it is too late. One goes down for the other but they did not know exactly what they were going down for. Facing years behind bars the one who went down sends the other a message only she would understand.

Submitted: August 18, 2012

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Submitted: August 18, 2012

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They all were filing on the bus, some excited the go, like the couple obviously on vacation from somewhere not south. And some not, like the guy with nothing but a guitar case, a pair of beat up shit-kickers, and bent up cowboy hat and a Levi jacket, which he was wearing, and the plain-Jane girl  with long braids and a sundress with what appeared to be,  a bag with all of her Earthly belongings in it. The bus was originating in Seattle so it was empty. Shane, was first to throw his guitar under the bus  and get in line to board. He’d been on a bus before, first on gets the rear bench seat, and it was going to be him. He wanted to get off his dogs, they were sore. This concrete and asphalt jungle was too much for these boots together with these feet. Shane was your typical southern gentleman, called the ladies, Ma’am and the gentlemen, Sir.

They met over a cigarette in Aberdeen.

“Well now darlin’ you couldn’t hustle your way out of a parking ticket, I say” Shane says in a thick drawl to the plain-Jane girl.

“I can get by, remember I have a marketable commodity between my legs.” Molly replied with all the grace of a farm girl from Iowa.

“OK, that sounds like a challenge, your name miss?” Shane asks respectfully.

“That would be, Molly.” She says with a tone way too sexy for a girl as young as she looked.

“Ahh..now, you can’t catch me with that ole’ used up hook, it’s gotta be a little shinier, too.” Shane gives her a quick glance up and down ,”you know what I mean?”

“EEeewww! how disgusting” she slaps his arm while laughing, “wow, muscles!”, she gives his arm a squeeze.

“Them was made by work, not working out, that’s for y’all TV types. I work out-doors everyday.” He says giving each bicep a kiss.

“Who is y’all TV types? And why did you say that?” Molly asks like she had a big brother backing her up. “OK look, I bet you I’ll have more money by noon than you will all day.” she starts, ”and I won’t corral them at the front door, or say something disgusting like, I’m ill or have a baby with cancer or some dumb shit like that”.

“”Well now, young lady I do believe we have a deal” Shane responds, ”you got six hours and I got twelve.”

“Good Math, genius.” Molly says being her smart ass but sweet as pie, self

“Not bad for a country boy.” Shane says smiling from ear to ear

They split the bus terminals in half when they pulled in somewhere. She worked one side and him the other,

At straight-up noon they were at a stop in Vancouver, right on the border of Washington and Oregon Molly comes sauntering around the bus an whispers in Shane’s ear, “Five hundred, that’s five with two big zero’s.”

“Ahh, shucks.....that ain’t squat.” Shane says with unwavering confidence.

“Then how much..” Molly starts.

“You never mind how much.... that’s not part of the deal, I have all day to tell you how much, and all I gotta get is a lousy 500 dollars! This’ll be easy as pie.” Shane says with an accent that has gotten him into many women pants in the past. They just want to take him home to their  parents as if to say, “See what I caught out there in that cruel old world. I found a good one, see how polite he is.” Shane had his gig down, he could not only get money, he could get taken home for supper. He had no doubt Molly could get taken home but not for supper,  But she’s got something in that bag that Shane supposed was for protection, all he knew was that it was not a rifle. But mostly Shane sang and played guitar for money and that’s where he got his big idea. While he sang everyone had their back turned  except those on the bus who’ve heard him at previous stops, and they were busy buying Ho-ho’s and Zinger’s to be paying attention.

Then he would get Molly to pick the pocket of a person he signals by complementing their watch or hair or dog, something. So any money they don’t give Shane for his playing he will get through Molly. They’ll split what they pull in fifty-fifty. Molly was telling people she needed money for baby formula, or, to mix it up a bit, she’d pull the cell phone scam  of bumping into someone, then dropping an already broken cell phone and complain to them that she was waiting on a phone call from her boyfriend. That was always good for at least a 20 dollar bill.

“Ahh, c’mon it’ll work great.” Shane pleads with a headstrong Molly

“You’re just using me” Molly doesn’t like Shane’s plan, “I was doin’ fine on my own.” she starts to walk toward the bus.

“But Molly...” Shane grabs her from behind.

“Don’t you ever, the last man who did that...got ...hurt.” Molly catches herself. “Jus’ don’t do that to me, maybe your girlfriend, but not me. ”Molly started to make a scene but caught it just short of being on time because now the two of them were being approached by security.

“Are you alright miss?” the security guard starts. Molly didn’t even get a chance to answer when Shane jumps in,

“She’s fine” Shane puts himself in between Molly and the guard., “and we’ll let you know if you should call the police...not yet.” Shane says patting the guard on the shoulder as if to wipe dust away. “Thank you.” The guard got the idea and backed off. “I just thought that together we could score bigger and faster.” Shane says as he turns to Molly.

“I’m listening.” Molly shows tentative interest.

“50/50 right down the middle.” Shane says hoping for approval.

“We’ll give it at test run at,” the next stop is was “Portland. We should have some time there.” Molly agrees.

“Well, I’m happier than a pig in a tore up garden” Shane says with a healthy smile.

Portland steps up for the pair really nicely. Molly must have traversed some rough waters, if she is as young as she looks, knowing the sort of things she knows. He watched her “accidentally” spill something on a woman, but not just any woman, the woman who’d ask her to hold her purse while she washes up. Once that bathroom door closed her hand went in that purse so fast that Shane nearly missed it, he was proud of the little girl. Sure, to him she was a little girl, to most, she was a little girl. They got on the bus and Shane motioned for her to follow him to where he was going to cut the money up but she was busy talking to some old man in the front of the bus. He was interested in her because he thinks she’s 13 years old and on her way to her grandma’s house down south. He was getting off in Eureka, Ca. where he would get a room for the two of them and he would get a hustling that’ll make him never mess with another little girl again. She took his wallet, of course once he’s naked, but then she also took his cell phone and told him that if she even sees a black and white car on her travels, she’s gonna’ call every number on the phone and tell them that he likes little girls.

Then she would buy another ticket on the next bus. That was the plan at least, but this time her gut told her that this one would be a problem.

“Hey, Shane.” Molly begins, “you wanna make some dough?”

“Well, what do you have in mind?” Shane makes eyes at her and growls like a lion.

“You perv” Molly pushes him back into his seat, “No, listen, get off with me at Eureka and follow,” Molly begins whispering “you’re gonna miss the bus so get your guitar, don’t worry I’ll buy you another ticket “

Shane starts with “But,...” and then Molly pulls out a wad of cash. There was that smile again, Shane was pleased. They pulled into Eureka and the people got up to exit the bus, Shane got to his feet still sleep in his eye and found Molly with this old man, following him out. Molly motioned for him to follow her but stay out of sight. So Shane crept along just within earshot of the two.

“You’re such a good girl for doing this..” the old man says.

“Do you wanna be my Daddy?” Molly says with the innocence of a little girl but a fire on the inside, and a bit of vomit in her throat.

 They come to a six-unit motel one block from the station. They make their way to the room the whole time she is motioning nonchalantly for Shane to follow her. The old man doesn’t suspect a thing, what is she going to do? Shane didn’t want any part in a murder, he knew she was crazy, the question now is, how much? Molly follows the old man in the room and makes one last gesture for Shane to  stay put.

Molly emerged from the room like a gust of wind minutes later shaking something off of her hand into her bag, with one arm, and the other holding a cell phone above her head,

“Remember our little agreement” Molly says while backing out and holding high the shiny piece of plastic. Then she ran, and when she ran Shane was there to catch her.

“Slow down, slow down, little one.” Shane says to this teen-age girl as she literally runs into his arms. Shane received half the bounty that morning which turned out to be 375 dollars. Molly just had a feeling that the old man had a gun. She could protect herself, she carried a piece, too. But having another man present is priceless when dealing with another angry man.

“I’m not  so little, now get your hands off me.” Molly says while swatting his hands away from her. What had she said? “I mean, I’m too little for you, get your hands off me, now.” Molly feigns anger.

“Nah, I caught that slip, you said you ain’t that small, but you are.” Shane’s confused while Molly starts taking down her braids.

“You’ll see, you’ll see, let’s go over to that diner”, Molly motions with her tied up hands. “Over there!”

They slowly stroll across the parking lot as Molly takes her first of two long braids down and unfurls this mane of golden and Caramel locks. After the first one came down the second was a snap. By the time they reached the diner, Molly had transformed from a teen-age little farm girl to a plain, but pretty woman. “How did you do that?” Shane asks, befuddled.

“It’s amazing what two little ole’ braids will do, huh?” Molly explains as they take a table. “I’ve been out here for 5 years, now, chasing someone that I’ll never catch.” Molly puts her head down and the waitress offers them coffee.

“5 years, well, whatever for?” Shane asks innocently as he prepares his table for a meal

“Some old man”, Molly breaks into a whisper, “got my daughter out on this bus route, Seattle to L.A., now I pose as a little girl to get  them in a motel room and steal all their shit.”

“No, really, what are you doin’ out here?” Shane demands to be told the truth.
“Shut up.” Molly says still whispering but also motions with her eyes to the guy to her left. Shane looks over at the guy.

“Hey now, why don’t you put those eyes back in your head, Sir.” Shane is trying to be diplomatic

“Is there a problem, here?” the host comes over and asks.

“No, we were just getting acquainted...right my man?” Shane says as he grabs  his arm. The man looked down at his hand like he wanted to break it, but by this time Molly was pulling Shane down to the table. “So, what are you doin’ out here.? That’s the last time I’ll ask.”

“I told you” Molly responds smugly.

“Some old man got your daughter, what?!” Shane exclaims.

“Pipe down!” The blonde says in a mocked whisper. “Some old man, from witness accounts,” she starts, “lured my daughter into a seedy motel along I5, raped and killed her 5 years ago.” her voice takes on a sorrowful tone “I quit my job at a Fortune 500 company to come get revenge for what they did to my little Sophie, on her way to grandma’s in Los Angeles.” she starts  to sob a little.

“Sometimes truth... is stranger than...fic..tion.” Shane starts to sing.

“Why, what fiction have you heard about me?” Molly asks still sounding like a little farm girl

“What I was writtin’ in m’head.” Shane says just like a redneck, hillbilly, ass-backward, dolt. His song was kinds catchy and Molly began to sing, and wow! Shane was bowled over in amazement. The voice of an angel, he thought.

“Yeah, go on.” Shane says.

“I told you everything” Molly explains.

“Now, girl, little girl, you gotta have a better line than that, sweetheart.” Shane replies with respect not condescending.

“That ain’t no line, that’s the truth, now shut up.” the waitress arrives, Molly orders 3 over easy eggs, toast, no bacon and Shane orders the same. “Listen, don’t I look older with my hair down? I pull it off, right? Hell, I don’t know why I’m asking your approval, the proof’s in the puddin’, right?” Molly says nodding as if working a jedi- mind trick forcing him to nod along with her...he does. He felt worked like a two-dollar whore on payday. “So why you out here?” Molly pries.

“Well, let’s just say the north ain’t no place for the south.” Shane starts, “Back in the day, Seattle was the spot for a guy with a guitar, so I hear, well,” he adjusts his collar, snorts, coughs, “it ain’t no more”. Their food arrives and they dig in like starving dogs, her, too.

“So where you headed?” she asks.

“I can ask the same thing.” Shane responds

“Ask away...” Molly calls his bluff.

“So do you plan to stay out here for another five years?” Shane asks. Molly looks confused, ”Yeah sister, I was paying attention. That revenge you’re getting,” he chews a piece of toast, “what’s the story on that?” Shane pinned Molly to the wall so nonchalantly it surprised her.

“It’s payback for those slimy old sick bastards” she responds slightly helpless.

“And when does that stop?” Shane asks with suspicion.

“You are not some cowboy from the south, you got that book learnin” Molly laughs.

“No books here, lost too many cards games to miss a tell as big as yours.” Shane says like she needs to be schooled.

“Tell...how?” Molly wants to know if there’s something missing in her game plan.

“How you twist you’re hair when you are lying, ummm.....how you  bite your fingernails when you’re telling the truth...how your bottom lips starts to puff out when  you get mad...darlin’ I could do this all day! You wear your heart on your sleeve’ which ain’t all bad, those who can see that you have one might not mess with you. But this country boy pays attention, you need to, out here, but you’ve been out here for five years, you should know that.” Shane surmises then sips his OJ.

“Well, of course, I pay attention, I can find out anything I want to know” Molly gets defensive.

“OK what about him,” Shane points to the guy that just walked by him nonchalantly, “you see that?”

“See, what?” Molly is confused

“OK, he was carrying a pistol on his left hip and is probably gonna’,” Shane looks over his shoulder at the man as he leaves the restaurant, ”get in that blue truck over there light up a cigarette, back out and leave.” Shane turns back around to face Molly as the man does everything Shane said except he didn’t back out.

“You been here before?” Molly asks then takes a bites of toast.

“Never in all my days.” Shane empties his orange juice glass, ”Umm...miss?” the waitress walks over.

“Can I help you?” she asks while pulling out her note pad.

“You know me, right?” Shane opens his arms like he’s welcoming a hug.

“No, sir. I don’t” the flustered waitress says.

“See, she don’t know me” Shane says

“OK, well, you have tells. too.” Molly says, “like how you always tip your hat when you want someone to believe you and you crunch your hat in your hands when you want to believe them. Not bad, huh? You’re not the only grifter on the circuit.”

“Wow, well I’ll be...” Shane starts.

“What you’ll be is dead if you mess with me, You hear me?” Molly’s trying to flex but it’s not working with Shane.

“Aww...now ain’t she darlin’” Shane begins, “keep your hands above the table please.” he caught her going for her pistol, “now I knew you weren’t out here for your kid.” Shane says smiling

“Who said I wasn’t.” Molly gets gruff with Shane.

“Now, calm the team, we ain’t gonna plow any fields just yet.” Shane tries to corral Molly’s temper, which he can see is begging to come out and play. “Hold your fire darlin’, we may need it for later.”

“The name’s Molly.” she says. “And what’s happening later?”

“You never know” says Shane, “So, here is the part where I ask you where you are going and you tell me to either: screw off or let’s team up for the next stop. So, what is it?”

“But I’m team captain.” Molly says as she signals for the bill.

“Oh, it’s like that, is it?” Shane isn’t about to push this one, he knows to just let the girl, or is it lady? to take the lead

“Yeah, it’s like that.” Molly counters his jab, “now you just sit there and look pretty, pretty boy!” with a jab of her own. He was a pretty boy but would only allow that kind of talk out of a woman.

“Well pretty is as pretty does, little lady, and I do say you are gorgeous!” Shane lays it on thick as to detract form that pretty boy comment. They have an audience after all.

“Oh, stop with all that chasin’ tail talk.” Molly isn’t with all that. She starts braiding her hair up as the waitress comes with the change and begins to whisper, ”OK, it’s like this, we’ll go on the bus until I find my mark, I will be with him,  you follow when we get off, just as before.”

“OK Captain, my captain!” Shane plays saluting her, “But,” Shane breaks into a whisper, “keep it down we don’t want to have to hurt any of these,” Shane now gets loud, ”nice people surrounding us!” Molly slaps him in the head as she gets up from the table knocking his hat off into his plate.

“C’mon doll, I’m letting you make the calls!” Shane pleads.

“Quit embarrassing me, let’s get out of here.” Molly tugs at his shirttail as she grabs a toothpick and heads for the door, sundress and golden braids in tow.  They agreed not to talk on the bus. The only time they spoke was at bus stops for a cigarette.

“No takers?” Shane asks.

“I ain’t advertising nothing.” Molly retorts.

“I didn’t mean anything” Shane pleads.

“I know, what I meant to say was, I was”, Molly checks herself quickly, “getting sleepy.”

“Alright, since we’re partners and everything, you can lay down if you like at my seat. I got the bench back by the bathroom.” Shane offers all he had.

“EEeewww! The bathroom.” Molly protests

“You can lay down.” Shane reminds her..

“Done deal, thanks.” Molly placed her bag at one side of the seat and used that for her pillow. She closed her eyes, and fell completely asleep, dreamt and everything. She trusted a man, again, but she didn’t realize it.

“Jesus!” Molly jumped up from the half-size bench! How long have I been sleeping?” Molly asks to an absent Shane. She looks around lost for a minute, gathers herself, and finds Shane sitting in the seat ahead of her leaned up against the bus window, hat fallen off, bottom lip hanging down, passed out. Whatever guard he had up is gone now, she thought. I could rob him, but the money isn’t that important. You don’t have to come up off of every man you meet, she tells herself. But they do have to pay.

The bus went over a large bump and woke Shane.

“Jiminy Christmas, where the hell am I? Oh Yeah, a bus headed to nowhere’s ville, just you and I....sleep well precious?” Shane is bright eyed and bushy tailed.

“Stop that precious shit, I only play a little girl. I’m actually older than you, I bet.” Molly replies.

“Well OK ma’am.” Shane starts.

“Don’t call me ma’am either” says Molly.

“Alright,” Shane stretches, “I won’t call you ma’am or honey or sweetheart, but I’m keepin’ darlin’...OK darlin’” Shane says with confidence.

“I suppose that will be alright. See that old guy up front to the left?” Molly says, the bus was only half full.

“Yeah, are you working him?” Shane asks respectfully.

“Have been since Redding. He came onto me like a lost puppy. I sat with him and he started rubbing my leg. He gives me the creeps but that is what I’m looking for.” Molly says.

“Ever use that pistol you carry?” Shane takes a guess.

“What pistol?”  Molly asks, playing dumb.

“I know you carry something in your purse for protection and I saw it the first time we worked together in Eureka. You slipped, but I’m the only one who noticed. You gotta be more careful with that thing. Let me guess,” Shane closes his eyes, ”it’s a snub nose, .38 caliber, stole it from your Daddy. How’s that?”

“You  got it right, kinda’. It’s a snub nose ,32 caliber, Smith and Wesson with the trigger filed down for smoother action. And I didn’t steal it, I bought it.” Molly politely explains.

“You shoot much?” Shane asks.

“Every time I get the chance.” Molly answers.

“What, trees, targets, people, where do you shoot?” Shane inquires.

“Well, I don’t see where that’s any of your business!” Molly shuts down.

“Don’t mind me, I’m just foolin’.” Shane tries to ease her mind.

“Oh, I know I’m just grumpy ‘cause I’m hungry.” Molly says while wiping sleep from her eye, “I don’t even feel like working that old man.”

“Too hungry to hustle, that’s pretty damn hungry. I think we got a stop coming up soon. We’ll eat then.” Shane reassures Molly.

“What’s this we crap?!” Molly  asks hostile.

“We...you, me, aren’t we partners?” Shane asks meekly.

“I guess, just don’t try to get too close to me.” Molly demands.

“Well alright, say, how old was your daughter anyway?” asks Shane.

“She was 12. Sophie was 12. God rest her soul.” responds Molly.

“You expect me to believe that a little thing like you had a 12 year old child?” Shane is bewildered.

“I don’t expect anything except for you to keep your hands to yourself.” Molly fires back, “and get my back at the motels.”

“Well, golly, I didn’t mean to be rude. We’ve known each other for what, 100 or so miles? You should know by now that I’m not trying to get too familiar. I think we’re both headed the same direction, the ride is gonna’ take a while. I’m just trying to get to know my partner in crime a little bit.” Shane explains himself as sincere as possible.

“I know, I’m just set on a channel that isn’t too friendly to men. I don’t mean to be mean, I just am.” Molly tells it like it is, “some old pervert raped and murdered my little girl and the police just put the case somewhere in their file drawer when it needs to be on the desk. Those damn lazy Feds. Since the bus crossed state lines it became a federal crime. I thought, great, the FBI is on it, it will be solved. WRONG! The Feds have a ton of cases just like mine, they tell me, and mine isn’t the only case that’s left unsolved. And that’s supposed to comfort me!” Molly is hot. Moonlight flickered  through the window as they  moved down the highway. A beam of light shone on Molly’s cheek as a tear rolled down.

“So you’re not trying to hustle me.” Shane asks not really sure until now if Molly was who she said she was.

“No, I’m not trying to hustle you.” Molly says, “I’m not trying to  hustle you, out of what, your guitar? No offense, but you ain’t got anything I want except your presence at the motel”.

“None taken, you just never know, out here you come across all types, and women are the most tricky. Anyway, do you mind if I ask your age?” Shane is prying.

“Now, you should know better than to ask a lady her age.” Molly is taken back by his lack of respect which has been stellar until now ”How old do you think I am?” Molly asks.

“Well, I thought you were 14 like you told me, but now that you pulled you hair down and I saw that there was a woman in those braids, I would say you look 21 but I know you had a 12 year old so you’ve got to be at least thirty, I say your 29.. That’s my guess.” Shane is cringing, waiting for a response, he’s prepared for a punch or slap.

“Pretty smart for a country boy... yeah, you’re awful smart for a country boy. Is that even true?” Molly asks.

“Well, now, why wouldn’t it be? OK....you got me. I’m really a student from NYU. For my senior thesis in socialism, I’m crossing the country by bus with no money, only my guitar and this thing,” he points to his head, “to get me through. I was writing a paper on the kindness of strangers but I was broke and needed some cash so I decided to hustle people for money. You know, my car broke down and I need gas money to get home. Or, I’m trying to get money for a motel room for my wife and newborn baby. I may be  college boy but I know a thing or two.” Shane drops the accent, “I studied theater, too.”

“I knew it, grifters are never who they say they are. Now is this story true?” Molly is not surprised but surprised at the same time, a college boy, now that’s rich.

“True as my eyes are blue.” Shane says with no drawl.

“So you do got that book learnin’! That socialism class, they teach you how to fuck with people?” Molly asks.

“That would be psychology.” Shane tells her.

“Socialism teaches you how societies work and American society is simple. Follow the money. For just about any situation, the money will be a deciding factor if not the deciding factor. All these dopes are running around all day chasing a dollar bill. While their lives pass them by.” Shane states.

“So why then are you in college? To get a good paying job, right, you’re just as bad as they are.” Molly exclaims.

“I’m in college because I want to lead a revolution, change things for the better, right? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to say. I’ve been there for four years, working my way through. I received a partial scholarship, really partial. And I still don’t know why the hell I’m on this planet. School was supposed to tell me what I wanted to do with my life. Now I have a 4.0 grade average and don’t know what to do with it.  This bus riding was to clear my head, too. You wouldn’t believe how stuffy college is. I’m at a crossroads and my engine broke down.” Shane finishes

“Sounds to me like you’re an intelligent guy with heart. Those two things never get along, but the heart always wins, remember. If you fight it you will live in misery. You know this.” Molly responds

“After finishing high school, my broke ass parents, wanted me to go to community college but I heard the word scholarship and I didn’t care where it was, I was gone. Originally I’m from Oklahoma, that’s where I copy my country accent from, and my music, obviously.” says Shane,” sounds like we’re in similar predicaments.”

“How’s that?” Molly is curious how he sees her.

“Well, you can’t stay out here chasing ghosts, forever. You got to let it go eventually. Really, Molly” Shane takes a caring tone. “The past is a painful place for all of us, some more than others, and it’s best to leave it where it belongs, in memories.”

“I know, I know, I’ve lost a lot behind my need for revenge, my job, my friends, my husband. You just wouldn’t believe the pain,” Molly’s body begins to shudder and tears come pouring like Niagara in a hurricane. Shane slides over onto the bench and lends his shoulder for Molly, “you just wouldn’t believe...” she sobs.

“I know, I know, c’mere”, Shane wraps one arm around Molly’s shoulders as to ease her pain. “Now don’t think I’m getting fresh with you.”

“Shut up.” Molly leans into his shoulder and lets out five years of stored up pain. Bucket loads of tears.  The sun was just breaking the horizon as Molly began bawling, the next stop was Sacramento and it would be a long one.

“There, there, it’s going to be all right.” Shane says consolingly

“Promise me.” Molly demands but not really sure why she said it.

“I...promise.” Shane says hoping he just didn’t get himself in a whole lot of trouble. “Hey, Sacramento is next, you want to come with me while I play for cash?”

“Yeah, I’ll pick their pockets.” Molly says like a teenager being told to take out the trash.

“No, you could just sit by me, sing, cry, do what you like. They will think that you are my girlfriend and give us more money. Or my sister, either way, you look innocent and that gets paid.” Shane is excited and hopes she sings. “You up for it?”

“Yeah, I could do that” Molly says as she wipes away tears and snot. She cleans up her braids and gets ready.

“And we got to get to a thrift store or something and get you a new dress.” Shane says.

“I have other dresses, is something wrong with the way I dress?” Molly asks.

“Absolutely not, I just think it would be a good idea to buy something new. We’re turning over a new leaf today, leaving the past behind and looking toward the future and better days.” Shane states. The people on the bus were beginning to wake, leaned over heads were now upright and perky. There was a low chatter on the bus when the driver came on the loudspeaker, which was very loud, and announced that they would have a two hour layover in Sacramento. The bus came to a stop with a puff and a squeak form the air brakes. People rose from their seats making sure not to leave anything behind. Shane got a good look at the creepy old man.

“What are you going to do about him?” Shane asks.

“He’s on until Los Angeles, I have time, and anyway the longer he waits the more eager he’ll be and when they’re eager they get sloppy.” Molly is drained from crying and the last thing she wants to think about now, is that old man. “Wow, normally I would be all over that guy but now I can let him go.”

“That, my dear, is what you call progress.” Shane says proudly. He got her to break through, now he’s got to keep her there. They get off the bus and Shane is all ‘howdy and y’all’. He’s maintaining his country boy persona for the people on the bus, in case someone is paying attention. Molly gets off the bus and skips away like a little girl playing. Shane sets up in the courtyard of the bus station, which was quite nice with benches that formed a circle with pillars next to each bench, Shane didn’t set up in the middle of the circle, he felt that was pretentious, he set up outside the circle on the fountain wall. There was plenty of room for people. Molly was playing ‘little girl’ when the old man that she was going to work approached her.

“Hey honey, how are you?” the pig says.

“Fine.” Molly says meekly while holding her dress down and twirling.

“Why don’t we go on a walk, there’s something you got to see!” the sick old man says.

“OK, I like walks.” Molly says pretending she’s chewing bubble gum. The perv leads her far away from the station and away from any people, they get to a park eventually, Molly makes a map in her head so as to get back. Then he takes her to the empty men’s restroom where he exposes himself to her, “Would you like to touch it?” he asks. Molly says nothing but shakes her head ‘no’. He grabs her hand but she pulls back quickly.

“My Mommy says..” she starts.

“But Mommy isn’t here, it’s OK, nobody will know, we don’t tell anyone about this, do we?” he says. Molly keeps her hand and the old man puts his, turtlehead, penis away. He then says, “I showed you mine, now you gotta show me yours.” He grabs her by the waist and start pulling up her sundress slowly, to her calves, to her knees, to her thighs, he was on his knees. Just as the dress started to reach her pubic hair, he got wide eyed and then it was like slow motion for Molly. His eyes got wide and just as they reached their widest she felt a rush go from her heart to her arm and she landed a deadly powerful uppercut on his chin. He was going to say something but that shut his mouth. He dropped like a sack of potatoes, a little blood coming from his mouth crease. She calmly picked his wallet, grabbed his phone, went to the trashcan to get a bag for it all, and left.

It took her about 45 minutes to get back, she picked through his wallet as she walked. Cute family, he was mid-50’s, wife that looked about 20 years younger than him, three kids two boys and a girl, AARP member, Bank of America credit cards, family dog photo, and of course, a condom. No personality at all, a plastic existence, a veneer coating 99 layers thick. No wonder he’s a sick, demented, foul blight on mankind. He’s so fucking square he probably couldn’t tell you what he likes, besides little girls. The 500 dollars was greatly appreciated, His phone was a cheap piece of shit, no Internet. Molly was craving the Internet, she could look up friends and her sister. She missed her family so much. She missed jogging with her dog, Toby. He was her buddy and she deserted him, he comforted her but this pain could not be contained inside a house. Molly had to run.

She arrived back at the station to applause coming from the fountain area. Shane was using his 4.0 education to swindle people. She walked over to him and put down the bag and sat down next to his guitar case open and full of paper. People at bus stations usually have all their money on them. You don’t travel on the bus because you have a portfolio that needs to be diversified. You travel on the bus because you are running from the cops or you don’t have a credit card to pay for airfare. Shane was playing a song Molly heard him play some 50 times and harmonized with him. It was so beautiful that Shane wanted to stop and he thought the audience was with him. She got applause and even brought over some new listeners.

“Thank you...my sister.” Shane says to the crowd. Molly curtseyed like a lady being a little girl. Sister, Molly kind of liked that, a tie to someone that means ‘I got your back’. They finish up and get in line for the bus, everyone was hot from the early morning heat of summer. Everyone got on the bus but it was not moving. Shane and Molly sit near each other in the back.

“What’s the Goddamn hold-up?!” Shane says. Just then Molly remembered that she knocked that guy out and they would be looking for him to get on the bus.

“Oh, shit! Look what I got.” Molly shows him the money and the wallet and says, “ Take a gander at the family photo.” Shane does and recognizes the old man.

“Holy shit!” Shane says then ducks his head behind one of the seats. “What did you do?” Shane is borderline angry.

“He’ll live, don’t worry.” Molly is calm as could be. “We’ll be off and moving in no time.”

“But, but...” says Shane.

The bus leaves Sacramento minus one person and heads south. Molly explained that the opportunity presented itself so she took it. She told him the truth, too. No stories embellished with feats of bravery, no need when the truth is pretty damn brave. She put herself in harms way and was reliving her daughter’s nightmare over and over again trying to make sense of it. When she can’t she moves to the armed robbery mode. She wouldn’t get caught for brandishing because she never actually pulls the pistol but if the cops got a hold of her, which Shane would never let happen, she would go down for armed robbery. And depending on the state, California, does not allow for concealed weapons of any kind, so that would be a charge. Molly sure would be in a heap of trouble

“Don’t you worry about getting caught?” Shane asks naively.

“How, when the guy that was trying to molest me goes to the cops, yeah, that’s gonna happen.” Molly gets cocky.

“You got a point.” says Shane

“And I’ve been doing it for five years, now.” Molly states.

“But don’t you worry about odds?” Shane asks.

“Don’t play the ponies.” Molly responds.

“Eventually everyone gets caught. Good things never last.” Shane says convincingly.

“I’m gonna give it up.” she says.

“Oh, yeah, when?” Shane can’t see her stopping. He can tell how emotional of a thing this is for her and doesn’t believe she’s over it yet.

“When we get to L.A.” says Molly. “you call it odds I call it timing. 5 years without a mistake is too much time, too many men I’ve traumatized. They’re all 50 or older and those pedophile sons a bitches never intimidate me. I keep waiting for the day one does, that’s why I wanted you to come in the first place. You’ve gotten my back for a while now and I want you to know that I appreciate it.”

“Make my cut bigger.” Shane is jokingly serious.

“You wish, I like you but we’re not sleeping together and even then I wouldn’t be paying you more.” Molly lays it down.

“Oh, you’d be paying me.” Shane says with a confident smile..

“Is that the way you talk to your sister?” Molly is pretending to be angry, though she is serious.

“Sorry darlin’, I didn’t mean any harm.” he uses his southern drawl strategically,

“No seriously, I have a sister in L.A. that I need to visit. I’ll just shack up with her for a while until I get a job. I can find a job anywhere.” an over-confident Molly says.

“Well, I’m sure you could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo.” Shane says

“Oh, stop it!” Molly counters.

“So, you see any new marks you wanna case.” Shane asks politely.

“No, I’m staying away for now, my hand is still sore.” Molly shakes her hand in front of her like it’s on fire.

The next long stop they had was San Francisco. When there they had plans.

“Shane.” Molly gets his attention.

“Yes, m’lady.” Shane answers.

“You wanna try to get down to the water when we get to ‘Frisco?” Molly asks.

“Like I said before we got to Sacramento, you can be Captain which mean you make the calls.” Shane says smartly.

“If you remember correctly I claimed the Captain’s roll.” Molly corrects a mistaken Shane.

“That’s right, that’s right O Captain!, my Captain! Shane says with a chuckle, “you get it, O Captain!, my Captain!...no? You don’t read much, do you?” Shane says.

“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?” Molly fires back.

“Nothing, it’s just...” Shane starts slowly.

“It’s just what?” Molly begins, “O Captain, my Captain, yes, I went to high school I know Whitman, asshole.” Molly sighs, “Goddamn I thought you were paying attention, I worked for a Fortune 500 company, that means that I probably went to college and read a lot of books. Stop acting like an elitist prick. And, I got the O Captain reference at the restaurant.” Molly fixes his wagon.

“OK, OK, that was a little elitist. See what NYU does to you,” Shane makes light, “yes, I think the water should be real nice today, good call, we can eat down there, too.”

They arrive in San Francisco close to sunset on the second day that Shane and Molly have been together. A lot of the time they have been sleeping on the bus, that is, Molly has been sleeping and Shane has been watching her. She mesmerized him. Her beautiful golden hair along with those blue eyes, and that attitude, small as a pea pod but feisty as an angry bobcat. She didn’t turn him on, per se, he was starting to have feelings for her. Not romantic in nature, more like the feeling of kin. They could be brother and sister, or cousins. She was older by 10 years at the most but he watched after her like she was his little sister. Maybe it was her petite stature, it definitely was not her presence or personality, those were plenty big. Shane just didn’t like the idea of Molly putting herself in that position over and over. And for five years! Was she a glutton for punishment or what? No, she was a woman on a mission. And Shane understood that. He was a man on a mission from the time he hit his teens. The mission was: Get the hell out of the house. He achieved his mission and it took him five years and countless night toiling over textbook after textbook financially unable to hire a tutor. The road was hell and achieving his goal didn’t really solve any of his problems except not having his overbearing parents around. He got to college and still found life pretty meaningless. He wanted a life that mattered.

Molly appreciated Shane’s presence more than he knew. He was attentive to her needs, watched her back everywhere and was not trying to screw her, figuratively or literally. He was just a real, decent guy. She knew there was something unnatural about him. NYU, that kind of impressed her, but she would never let Shane know it. Molly has not had the best luck with men. Sophie’s father was an egotist who couldn’t see past himself to see that she was splitting at the seems. When she needed him he was out drinking or carousing with his friends. And he was the best of them.

They arrived in San Fran and as they were leaving the bus. A young man and, what looked like his girlfriend, stood up.

“Hey everyone it’s my girl’s birthday we’re gonna find a bar and get a drink, you’re all welcome.” the young man says.

“Well alright!” another man says and they all start clapping.

Shane in a whisper, “Can you believe these douche bag’s clapping like fucking seals for an anchovie.”

“No kidding. When people drink they turn into something they’re not, wanna fuck on a pool table or want to kill you.” Molly chimes in.

“Yeah, and 9 times out of 10 the alcohol has nothing to do with it.” Shane laughs.

“What, college boy doesn’t drink?” Molly asks.

“And fit in with all those tools! No, thank you. I mean, I’m not straight edge or prude I just have better things to do with my spare time. Sure, freshman year I did the whole ‘get drunk and fall down’ routine, but that was before I woke up.” Shane explains.

“And by woke up, you mean...” Molly leads Shane into a more in depth explanation.

“I mean, one evening in my sophomore year I looked around me and I found myself surrounded by drunkards and idiots. And this was in the house of higher learning! The next morning I dumped the fraternity and moved off campus where real life was happening. I don’t read People magazine or tabloids, I don’t watch the ‘news’. If your life is so empty you need to live vicariously through so called stars then there’s a problem and I don’t have time for that. I’ll admit that I don’t know what I want to do with my life but I do know what I don’t want to do with it and that is live someone else’s life through the television or magazines. Can you believe people actually dish out hard earned money for that shit? I wonder if they can feel their souls dissolve or feel themselves getting stupider as they turn each page. People are so dumb it kills me. They are called television PROGAMS. They are programming the viewers with commercials. They tell you what to buy, how to dress, and sell you on illnesses that you never knew existed but now have symptoms for.” Shane is on a roll, “ and they want you to think that you have problems that only money can solve. Then there are the damn pills. They have a pill for everything. Can’t sleep, can’t wake up, can’t eat, eat too much. They even have a pill for when you can’t get intimate. They’re all chemicals that further down the road they will find out they will find out cause cancer. But dumb ass’s, like little robots, go for this crap everyday. And what is at the root of all of it, money.”

“Wow...You’re serious.” Molly is speechless..

“I’m just determined to find my purpose. I don’t even care what it is, I just want to have purpose.” Shane states.

“I hear ya’” Molly agrees with the long winded Shane, “ are you alright? You look flustered, here drink some water.” Molly hands Shane a bottle . “What do you say to getting the fuck out of here for a minute?” Molly asks Shane as he slowly rises out of his seat. Shane sighs and puts his hat on and sets his hand on his hip, lending his arm for Molly to hold,

“Shall we?” Shane asks like a gentleman. Molly accepts clutching his arm. “Look, I’m sorry for the rant, it doesn’t take much to get me started.” Shane is rather embarrassed at his little outburst, “Let’s get something to eat, yeah?”

“Yeah.” answers Molly

Luckily, the bus terminal is not far from Fisherman’s Wharf and they get a chance to walk on the pier. Arm in arm Shane and Molly stroll, Shane towers over the petite Molly at 6’3”, Molly is a mere 5’2”. They look like a couple, walking, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“So, you probably think I’m pretty stupid then, huh?” Molly asks.

“You, Oh hell no. You are following your heart and there is no fault in that. Your problem is, you are caught in a loop. A cycle of pain that we are going to break you of. Revenge is unattainable and I think you know this. You will never be satisfied robbing these sick old men and if you keep this up, it’s going to bite you in the ass. You gotta stop this, sweetheart, it’s not healthy. Look, you’ve given up 5 years of your life trying to make a wrong event, right.  It’s in the past, let it be. It will never be right, it will always kill you to think of and the cops will probably never solve the case. And you’re too small to be a vigilante.

“I know, Shane, it’s just hard.” Molly bows her head.

“Here, watch.” Shane grabs a helium filled balloon that was tied to the railing, “This balloon is your daughter’s death, put all your pain right here. Focus on it because when we get to the end of this pier you are going to release it. Into the sky to fly away up to the heavens.”

“OK, focusing....” Molly is trying. They get to the end of the pier, the wind is blowing, Molly has her hair unbraided and it’s blowing over her face.

“Look at me.” Shane wipes the hair from her eyes with a finger. “You can do this.” Shane says to reassure her. “Hold it over the side.” Molly complies. “I’ll count to three then you’re going to let go of your daughter’s death and the man that killed her.” Molly’s hands are shaking. “One...two...three.” Molly let go of the balloon.

“Oh, my god!” Molly falls into Shane’s waiting arms. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Then be sick, it’s OK these boots are old anyway.” Shane says not making light.

“Hold me, please.” Molly asks politely knowing that Shane will comply. Shane holds her like his sister as her body jerks from falling tears.

“Shhhhh...come now.” Shane is being the shoulder that Molly has needed for 5 years. The shoulder that should have been her husband’s if he weren’t so preoccupied with himself. The bus left San Fran and headed south with Shane and Molly passed out in the back, on the bench seat, next to the bathroom. Molly lay on Shane’s shoulder and Shane sat upright, hat tilted down over his face. They slept through Gilroy and Salinas but woke up for San Luis Obispo.

“I’m hungry, I’m going to the store o buy something to eat.” Molly says.

“I’m gonna go smoke.” Shane says with sleep still in his eyes. Molly was deciding whether or not she should get something for Shane. She gets him a ham sandwich and a carton of milk. As she is walking out of the store she sees Shane talking to two police officers. She starts to run over to them, but Shane sees her and puts his finger up as if to say “wait a minute”. She figures he has it handled and stops. Then she sees him turn around as the officers put handcuffs on him.

“NO!” Molly yells and starts to approach but the officers stops her.

“Stay back, ma’am, we have this under control.” the officer says.

As they take him to the car Shane shouts.

“I found purpose! Live your life, be free! I love you. Don’t let this be in vain!” Shane gets his head pushed down into the car. Molly is in tears once again.

“NO, NO, NO!” Molly yells as they take Shane away to face charges that she is responsible for. ”You don’t know what your doing!”

What Shane didn’t know is that Molly shot a man before getting on the bus in Seattle, didn’t kill him, only got him in the leg. But Shane was going to pay for it nonetheless. Molly doesn’t even know Shane’s last name and has no way of staying in contact with him, but she wasn’t about to let him go down in vain. He said he found purpose and Molly understood that he meant for her to be free, of the past, of her pain. Molly took the bus to Los Angeles and found her sister where she stayed until she found a job. Years later, while on the way to work downtown, Molly was listening to the radio when she heard a familiar voice and a chorus that she knew the words to, “Sometimes thruth ...is stranger than...fic...tion.” She knew exactly who that was and then she heard the DJ, “That was Shane Weston’s ‘Molly’s Revenge’. Molly screamed at the top of her lungs, “Yesss, hellll fucking yessss!!!” Next to her daughter’s birth that was the happiest day of Molly’s life thus far. The only man that she felt ever really loved her was not in prison, and thanks to him, neither was she, anymore.

 

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