Sadie opened her eyes on the passenger side of the Toronado. She hadn't meant to sleep that long or that hard. Blinking awake she looked around, realizing she had no idea where she was or where her whiteboy had wondered off to. She noticed he'd had the good sense to take the keys with him. She figured they were in some rural pissant Pennsylvania township. She knew the look. She ran her hands over her face, slapping it slightly to wake up. He head had begun to sprout some peach fuzz, it felt soothing to rub on it.
She heard boots crunching over gravel and looked up to see Billie Joe walking back from the drugstore.
She looked him over and thought to herself the term “walking” was perhaps a bit too generous. It was a stiff sort of stagger, he had a paper bag and his eyes were wide open, as though they'd been peeled of their eyelids.
“You okay there?” she said out the window. “You look like the walking dead.”
Billie Joe smiled weakly “Good morning” he said “I think I'm ready for you to drive now.”
Sadie slid over and Billie Joe got in the passenger side with his bag of whatever goodies he'd picked up from the druggist. “What's in the bag, cowboy?”
“Provisions.” he said, “They either didn't have what I needed or it wasn't over the counter. Mostly antihistamines. You want a candy bar?” and offered her a snickers.
“Sure.” she said and taking it, opened it up and had breakfast.
“It's okay, I got plenty more.” he dug around and opened up a box of pills, swallowed two or three of them dry. His hands were shaking almost violently and he seemed to be perspiring all over the entirety of his body. “I'm surprised the old man behind the pharmacy didn't call the cops. They didn't like me one bit.”
“Okay, you want to tell me what the fuck you got going on, son?” she looked him dead in the eye, mouth full of candy bar and noticed his pupils were huge and didn't seem to be able to focus on her too well.
“I'm not high, if that's what you're thinking.” he said. He was almost stuttering. “I mean, goddam I wish I was. I just need to get off the road for a while.”
Her hard look subsided not at all. She chewed slowly. He thought she looked like a lioness about to devour him.
“It's okay, they told me there's a motel right down the road here. You can drop me there. I need to stop in the package store first. That's right by there as well.”
“Okay.” she said but continued to glare at him. He did his best to meet her gaze. He felt as if he would wither under it.
“Look I'm sorry, I'll explain in a little bit. I just don't wanna talk about it right now.”
“No.” she said “You got the keys.”
Billie Joe managed a chuckle and fished the keys out of his jeans pocket. She took them and jammed one into the ignition. She roared to life. “I hate Pennsylvania.” she said, slid it into drive and rocketed onto the highway gravel flying behind her.
By the time they reached the roadside motor inn, Billie Joe seemed unconscious. He had the blanket wrapped around himself and his head buried under his leather jacket. The lodge consisted of tiny cabins, each with a few flowers out front. Paint had peeled some since it's 60's heyday but the sign still stood proclaiming “Love Nest” to have the cleanest rooms around.
“This gonna work for you?” Sadie asked.
“Yeah, great.” Billie Joe said underneath the pile. He rose. “As long as it has a roof, a toilet and a bed, I'm good to go.” He winced at the sunlight, and produced his roll of bills
“You think you could get me checked in? Last favor, I swear.”
She took the money and grimacing, obliged to go in the door marked Office. It was cheap enough, the old woman behind the desk had kind eyes, even to a hard, beat up, black woman as she was. Sadie got the key and the green machine backed up to the appropriate spot and helped Billie Joe inside, hunched, clutching the blanket around him, his hair greasy and hanging in his face.There was only the one bed, which he collapsed onto immediately, and kicked his boots off. Sadie lugged in his huge duffel bag, as well as whatever else of his he could find. She dropped the bag on the floor, set the fresh bottle of Jack they'd purchased at a package store two miles back on the small desk. She looked around the cabin, arms crosses, it was indeed much cleaner than she'd anticipated. Billie Joe was breathing heavily out of his mouth, and watched her with the one eye that wasn't smooshed onto the plaid quilted comforter.
“Thank you so much for everything.” he said. “Take some of the money, you know, for gas and all the trouble.”
She sat down at the desk and opening the bottle, took a shot and looked at him. “I ain't leaving.”
“Oh.” he said. She offered him the bottle, which he waved away.
“Thank you.” he said, breathing heavy. She nodded and gave him a grim smile.
They stayed there for a while, silently looking around the room and at each other, him on the bed and her in the small oak chair; while the sun sank outside the plate glass window and drew long shadows through the trees onto the walls of their tiny room, the cleanest around.