“Wow! The weather is outstanding! It’ll be a perfect weekend.”
Cameron leans forward and turns up the volume of the radio. She only listens to country music on this stretch of the journey to see her family—Highway 30. Pull off 218 at Mount Pleasant, pass through the town and a mere minutes later you are drifting through Fairfield—home of the Maharishis—the floaters—the New Age designers of a perfect world that will never exist.
“Damn, man. Use your signal!” She lets up on the brake and with a flip of her head tosses her long braid off her shoulder. “Fool!”
She reaches into the side pocket on her door, retrieves a plastic, orange flute and blows. Her shoulders shimmy. Her left foot taps. The tune emanating from her instrument mimics the low tones of the baleful voice that fills the interior of the car. My lover left me. My dog left me. My mother just died. Oh, woe is me. Country music. You got to love it.
She glances in the rearview mirror and imagines a black cowboy hat setting on her head. She winks and puckers as she pushes air into the plastic instrument. The car seems to rock. The headlights flicker around the turns like bic lighters held in the upraised hands of adoring fans. She drops the flute on the seat beside her, feels around in the pocket for her whistle, raises it to her lips and puckers. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
She moves her neck and upper body like an Egyptian dancer. A pickup passes. The driver raises his hand in greeting. She does the same, but then frowns and blinks. “Whoops. Too far, woman. You missed the turn.”
Hee Haw Campground next left, the sign reads. She pulls to the side of the road. Unconsciously, her hands grip the wheel until her palms throb. She continues to stare straight ahead, seeing nothing.
My God! How long ago had that been? The tent she didn’t know how to raise, but grabbed from the attic of the architect-designed home? The frozen pound of hamburger, so she wouldn’t starve? The flashlight? The tears and fear as she escaped. Jesus!
She gulps for air. “She’s gone forever,” she whispers.
As if to convince herself that the words are true, Cameron glances into the mirror again. Sure enough. Her imagined cowboy hat still covers her hair. A feather hangs down on the right side. She nods, starts the car, puts her foot down on the gas pedal and like a seasoned rodeo star putting her horse through the paces, maneuvers a U-turn.