We had been sitting at the bus station for the better part of the day when a blue Chevy Malibu slowed down beside us, stopping. It was a 2-door coupe that had seen better days. The passenger side window rolled down, revealing a middle aged woman. A long tan arm hung out the window. “Y’all OK?” she hollered. Nick made his way over to the car. I hung back, reluctant to talk to strangers. I’d spent most of the day resting against the concrete back end of the bus station. The heat had turned us into zombies. Our bodies moved slowly, interrupted only by the smallest of interactions. Earlier in the day a couple of black kids came by with bags of fast food for us. They’d alerted the fire department that we were hanging around the bus station without any food. Soon after, a firetruck armed with men carrying bags of Krystal Burger came to our rescue. After eating a burger and fries, I nearly passed out from the food coma which only intensified with the afternoon heat. I didn’t feel like moving around much.
I looked over at the woman in the car.
Nick walked over to the open window and crouched down.
“Yeah, we’re alright.”
“Ya’ll don’t look alright,” she swatted at a large bug. “It’s hotter n hell out here. Where y’all from?” the woman asked, peering, her black coal eyes bloodshot.
“Georgia. My friend and I are stuck at this bus station. We are hoping to find a way back to Atlanta,” he said cautiously.
“That’s a pretty long ways away. How’d y’all end up in Tupelo?” she asked, pulling a Marlboro out of her purse. She lit the cigarette, a small child popped up behind her. The girl was blonde and had the face of one of those little girls reminiscent of a vintage Sunbeam ad from the 1950s.
“Uh, it’s a long story and doesn’t matter much. We really just want to get back home,” said Nick. “We pretty much just need money so that we can buy bus tickets and get out of here.” The woman studied him for a moment, taking a long drag from her cigarette. “I think we can help y’all with that. Why don’t ya’ll come along with us and get yourselves cleaned up,” she said, smiling. “No way?” I replied flatly.
She let out a raspy chuckle and looked over to driver’s seat. A giant man sat behind the wheel. “My husband Mack and my daughter Shelby are good people. We ain’t gonna hurt ya’ll,” she chuckled. The little girl grinned. “Do you live around here?”asked Nick. “Oh yeah, right up the road a ways,” her right arm moved as she spoke.” We live a few houses down past where the king was born. Have y’all ever been there? It’s a cute little place,” she laughed, revealing stained teeth. “We could drive y’all up there tonight if y’all like.” Nick shrugged his shoulders. “Sure,” he glanced over at me. I gave him a sharp look. “Let me talk to her first,” he said as he walked away from the car.
“I’m not going anywhere with those people,” I said firmly.
“Look, we have been sitting here all day sweating our asses off. It would be nice to take a ride and get out of this heat,” he said, his penetrating cyan eyes studied my face. I shook my head. “They could be serial killers. That woman is a dead ringer for Aileen Wuornos! They are most likely piss poor, and don’t have any money.”
“So, like what the hell are they going to do for us? They just want to party with us.”
“What else are we going to do? We’ve been here for four days, wasting away in the hot sun. We can’t stay at this bus station forever,” he sighed. “Maybe they know someone who can help us.”
I looked over at the car. The child was trying to get our attention by making faces through the back window. I wiped sweat from my brow and looked down at my boots. My feet ached and I had a throbbing headache. I wanted nothing more than to be in an air conditioned house with some cold beer.
“Alright. We give them a few hours and if nothing comes of it then they take us right back here,” I said, itching my back.