Twice DrivenBy: Madison Faye
The third time Joe hit me was when I packed my bags and headed out the door. I didn’t leave a note, and didn’t even take everything I owned. I just waited until he passed out in front of the t.v., threw some clothes in a bag, and got in the car.
Running away from a relationship like that is never easy - or safe - for anyone. Doing it when your boyfriend’s dad is a lieutenant in the mob?
Yeah, things get a bit trickier.
Joe’s family was “made”, as they say, which meant leaving wasn’t going to be as easy as staying at a friend’s house or checking into a motel in the city. No way. I knew I had to really leave - leave as in “disappear”. It wan’t an easy decision, but then, it was really my only one after that last time when he knocked me to the floor.
Yeah, takes a real man to punch his girlfriend when his team loses a football game.
And so when I got in the car that night, I aimed west, turned on the radio, and just drove. I didn’t really know where I was going, or even where I’d sleep that night, but I’d hit the breaking point. Literally anything was better than the shit-show of a relationship the last two years had been. I was done.
When the Las Vegas lights faded behind me, I felt better. But it was when I started to leave even the surrounding towns behind that I finally took the time to pull over, take a breath and finally let my heart stop beating so fast.
I was free.
There was a distinct chance Joe would come looking for me - I knew that, especially if “the family” got involved. But that was a risk that was worth it to me. When you’re in that deep with something that bad, you sort of lose track of who you even are. After two years, I felt like a blank slate. I might not have known who I was anymore, but another part of me knew that meant I could be anything I wanted to be.
Because I was free.
I pulled back onto the road, let the windows down, and let the hot summer wind blow through my hair as I chased down the horizon.
Of course, “finding me” wasn’t going to be free. The first night, I’d caught a few hours of sleep parked outside a diner with my doors locked. I drove all day the next night, fueled by coffee and a driving need to put as much distance between myself and Joe as possible before I stopped. But by that next night though, I knew I had to find a real place to stay.
I was also going to need gas really soon.
Well, that and money...if I even had enough gas to even get some place to spend it.
I’d purposely left the the major highways behind in order to stay off the radar in case Joe as already after me. Rightfully, of course, but there’s one thing about highways; they do a pretty great job of getting you to gas when you need it. Out here on country route 88 though, there was nothing; not a thing that I could see on the horizon. I knew I was low, but by the time I actually realized the gas light was on, things were looking bleak.
Finally, way up on the horizon, I spotted a big gas station logo I recognized, and felt the relief wash over me. Getting suck out here in the badlands of wherever I was without gas, or money, or even any idea where I was going wasn’t exactly going to help me much.
It wasn’t until I got closer, the car practically sputtering on fumes, that I groaned as I saw the reality.
The gas station was dead, like, zombie move dead. The place probably hadn’t been open and pumping fuel in twenty years, which was more and more apparent as I pulled in, as if actually stopping next to a pump was going to somehow magically convince it to start pumping again.
I groaned as I shut off the engine and slumped my forehead against the wheel. I had no idea how long the gas light had been on, but getting to wherever the next station was seemed like a bleak prospect. But I was exhausted, the afternoon was getting late, and sitting here kicking myself for being an idiot and not taking the highway wasn’t going to do any good either.
“Back on the road then,” I mumbled out loud, swearing to myself as I pushed the keys back in the ignition. There was a soft chugging sound for a moment a the car tried to rumble to life before it gave up with a wheezing sound.
Oh you’ve got to be shitting me I thought to myself. I tried again and swore loudly as the same sounds and same results repeated themselves.
I was officially out of gas, officially stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, and officially screwed.
The dull, thundering roar came from behind me, the searing churn of engines growing louder and louder until I turned just in time to see the two motorcycles go flying down the deserted stretch of road. I’d gotten a glimpse of leather and tan skin before they’d blown right past the deserted gas station in a cloud of dust.
Suddenly though, way down the stretch of road there, I saw them suddenly slow and turn, before I could hear the engines growl again as they began to roar back my way.
I could feel my blood run cold. Here I was sitting alone in my car at an abandoned gas pump on a deserted stretch of highway, with zero cell phone reception and two bikers had just turned around to head back to me. All of a sudden every crazy late-night college story about biker gangs and initiation “mayhem” came rushing into my head, and I found myself gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, feeling the fear shoot through me.