Spinning quickly in hopes to fight the oppressing heat of the Nevada desert beating down upon the occupants of the gas station, the fan hummed,
shaking wildly filling the place with useless sound. The small bell jingles alerting of the presence of another person. The cashier didn’t even look up.
Too busy appeasing the soccer mom’s wishes in hopes that her annoying voice and terrible hair cut would leave.
A gentle humming of random tunes added the fan’s “music”. Moving with a slight beat to her step was a girl, or young woman.
The humid heat dampened the blond hair into frizzles, which the girl tried to tame in a half-hearted bun. Charlie weaved around the aisles, dodging a pair of kids whizzing past.
Readjusting her oversized blue-and-gray flannel, she stole a glance at the cashier. Still busy with soccer mom. Good.
Making her way to the Slurpee machine, Charlie grabbed a cup, pressed every flavor button possible, pushed the small lever letting it go as far back as it could.
Then she kept pushing, until she heard a satisfying snap.
Stepping away from the machine, she waited a few seconds until icy sweet sludge began over-flowing onto the floor before letting out a startled scream.
Her scream attracted the attention she wanted. “Shit!”
“Excuse me? There are children here!” Soccer mom shrieked at the cashier as he darted to the mess.
“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I-I just pushed the thing a-and it just- “
“It’s ok! It’s ok, it was just an accident.” The cashier soothed Charlie before assessing the mess.
Soccer mom rushed over, flustered that she was being ignored, patting her poorly dyed blond hair she glared at Charlie.
“Excuse me, but my kid’s game starts in twenty minutes, I need you finish up scanning my stuff.”
The cashier looked at her like she was crazy.” What the fuck?”
“What did you just say to me?”
“What the fuck lady? I have more important things to do than your kid’s fucking game!” Soccer mom’ s eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets.
“Where’s the manager?”
“Come fucking on!
” the Slurpee machine continued to spit out its contents, two adults screamed at each other, and two kids cheered with glee, sliding down the Slurpee mess crashing in to the shelves before them.
Now it is times like these Charlie used chaos to her advantage. Taking her chance, she darted down aisles, grabbing handfuls of anything she could get her hands on.
Shoving it into her string bag hidden away under her flannel shirt.
Turning to the drinks aisle, she practically ripped the door open to grab as many water bottles possible, then she hunted for a six pack of beer.
Her heart raced, glancing at the arguing adults, the manager joined the group trying to calm the soccer lady down.
Charlie had to hurry, soon they will remember her existence and the absence of their products. Ducking down, she saw the beer section…right in plain view of the group.
There is no way she could possible steal the beer without being seen, letting out a deep breath, preparing to gun for it…
“Are you breaking the law?” an innocent voice inquired. By her side were the two children, dried Slurpee stained their skin and soccer uniform into a colorful mess.
“You could get into big trouble.” Added the other. Despite how innocent these children seemed, the mischief in their eyes showed otherwise.
Grinning at the two, Charlie saw bags of candy in the shelf right next to her. The children noticed what held her interest and started giggling in excitement.
Grabbing armfuls of them she tossed them to the kids.
“Distract them for me and this is all yours.” Both kids grinned nodding their heads in agreement, taking off to follow out their side of the deal.
Listening carefully, it didn’t take long for cries of confusion and anger, mixed with children giggling reached her ears.
Beelining to the beers, she grabbed a random six-pack of bottled beer then made for the door. Risking one glance back at the mess she created.
All adults were now struggling to free the candy Charlie gave the children from their hands, which were busy shoving the candy down their mouths.
This was easier said than done due to everyone slipping on the spilt Slurpee, screaming at each other, and trying to tame the kids. Smirking in satisfaction, Charlie left the area.
On her way to the road she passed and elderly man refilling his gas tank. He glanced uneasily to doors of the station hearing the commotion from within.
“Should I even bother or not?” he asked her.
Charlie flashed small smile, shaking her head in dismay. “Bolt it, there’s no cameras or anything. Besides, someone stealing gas will be the last thing on their minds now.”
The elderly man nodded his head with a grunt of confirmation. “ ‘Fraid ya right here. Alright let’s not make a scene and go quite like.”
They took their separate ways. Charlie walking down the side of the road and the old man taking down the road in his rusted, beat-up minivan.
Rustling through her bag of stolen goods, she had chosen a mixed variety of chips, pointlessly picking out certain chips from the bag knowing in the end she will eat the all of the contents.
A few hours passed like this, picking out a random snack from her bag, drinking bottles of water, shoving the trash back into her bag,
and occasionally pulling the hitchhiker’s thumb if a lone car passed. The same routine down the dusty desert road, hoping that one driver may be kind enough to pull over ad give her a ride.
So far, no luck.
“Shoulda nabbed a pair of sunglasses while I was at it.” -Shielding her eyes from the sun she squinted to the sky. - “Four, I think? Yeah, it’s around four.”
Feet dragged against the sandy ground as Charlie’s energy started drain away. Night was arriving and that meant freezing to death if she did not find shelter soon.
“Beer’s warm too, damn it.” Charlie spun around, walking backwards down the road she made the hitchhikers thumb hand gesture.
Hope dared to fill her chest as a car drove her direction…and sped right past her.
“C’mooonnn, gotta be somebody willing to help a lonely, pretty girl.” Charlie groaned. Just as she said that another car appeared in the distance.
As it got closer, Charlie saw that is was an old pick-up truck. Once it reached her the truck slowed to a stop.
Keeping a safe distance, Charlie used her hands to block out the sun trying to see the driver as the window rolled down.
“What’cha doing walking down the road. Ya gonna get hit or taken.” Scratchy from years of smoking, the voice seemingly scolded Charlie for her carelessness.
Charlie lied with practiced ease, “Boyfriend ditched me at some gas station way back. Left me walking the roads, said he ‘Needed some freedom that a girlfriend can’t give.’”
“And he left ya in the middle of nowhere?”
“Yeah…can you give me a ride to the closest town or something?” Charlie held her breath, watching the driver’s every move. Now she could see the driver was a middle-aged woman.
At least that is what she guessed from her looks, but smoking can make a teenager look like they are forty.
Pulling her greying hair back into a pony tail, the woman skeptically stared at Charlie.
“Ye got gas money?’’
“I got this, it’s warm bu-“
“Don’t care!” The woman’s eyes brightened at the sight of the warmed six pack of beer, reaching over she opened the passenger door for Charlie.
Charlie hid her amusement with a startled expression at the woman’s sudden change at the sight of beer.
Of all the drivers that Charlie could of have gotten she knew that this one would have accepted the beer as payment no matter what.
The stench of alcohol and empty bottles tossed in the back told her that much.
“Thank you!” climbing into the car, placing the six-pack upon her lap. No words were said when a bottle opener was thrusted into Charlie’s face.
Opening a bottle, she handed it to her “savior”, watching as the woman drained the bottle in one sitting, letting out a satisfied sigh.
“Damn! I needed that. There’s a small town not far from here. ‘Bout an hour away, you can call someone there to come get ya. Ya do have someone out there for ya right?”
Charlie smiled, enjoying the comfort of the air-conditioned car, she hummed a random tune staring at her blue eyes reflecting in the window. In fact, someone did pop into her mind.
“Yeah, yeah I do. I always got someone for me.”
“Alright, now hand me another beer and put the rest by your feet and bag. Hopefully the AC will cool it up.”
Charlie handed another beer as requested. “Deal, but if you start swerving, I’m driving.”
The woman chuckled at her words. “Fine kid, fine. But if we get pulled over it’s your fault."
Charlie let a huge smile grace her features. She knew exactly who to call to come get her. Come Hell or high water he will come and drag her back home.
He will always say that it was his job, that he never chased her because he worried for her like an older brother would,
At the end of the day both knew that even in his last moments he will do everything in his power to get her back home.
In all honesty, she wouldn’t have it any other way.