portion of the artwork for Misti Rainwater-Lites' fiction

Between Tahlequah & West Hollywood
Misti Rainwater-Lites

We ran through weeds that scratched our legs. The only plan was getting there.

We were dumb with desperation, fearless with boredom. The summer owed us an adventure.

A van filled with college guys was our first ride. It was a short ride. Maybe we smelled bad.

We got dropped off down the highway at a convenience store. We stole a king-size Snickers.

We tore it in half and shared it. The stars were coming out. The rodeo was far behind. Goodbye, Talking Leaves. So long, Cherokee Nation. We had bigger fish to gut. She was sixteen and blonde, and thought she might be pregnant. I was twenty-one with short black hair, in love with Taz who was in love with various drugs and Melissa. We would walk to Muskogee if we had to.

An old man in a black Cadillac was our next ride. His wife had left him. His wounds were fresh.

We were welcome to come stay at his house and wear the clothes she had left behind. He wanted to fuck us. We let him buy us fried chicken in Muskogee and drop us off at a truck stop. He wished us luck. A shirtless trucker sitting in his truck with the window rolled down leered down at us.

“You girls need some money?” he asked.

“Yeah, but we aren’t desperate enough yet to suck strange dick,” I quipped.

“Well, if you change your mind, let me know.”

“Thanks. I won’t.”

Our next ride was down the road with a couple of Cherokee cowboys on the rodeo circuit.

They plied my friend with Coors. Coors was against my principles. My friend puked Coors all over the truck and some splashed on me. At the truck stop in Enid we cleaned ourselves up and my friend told me we had to find a new ride because one of the cowboys wanted to fuck her. I saw a truck that had Papa Bear painted on the cab.

“Papa Bear! That seems benevolent. He’s our next ride,” I announced.

An old hippie with a reasonable beard headed for the truck and I approached him.

“We need a ride. We’re going to West Hollywood,” I said.

He was cool. He plied my friend with weed. He didn’t try to fuck her.

I was invisible. My hair was short and black. I was not fuckworthy. I was never in any danger.

Down the road I saw the purple mountains. I smiled. I was alive. I was ebullient. I didn’t know anyone else who had lived a story this fantastic. Someday if someone liked me enough to put his sperm in my vagina and it turned into a baby, I could tell my baby this story so the baby would think, “Damn … Mommy was quite the bad ass back in the day.”

I saw the dinosaur truck stop. I saw the ugliness that is Eastern California. All that baked fuckyawn, sun-squirm desolation like bleached iguana bones and nothing houses with flaking nondescript paint. Then West Hollywood with its palm trees and bag ladies and empty promises and Papa Bear wished us luck.

“You girls are gonna end up in a ditch,” he said.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 32 | Spring 2011