On Knowing Her Name

If I hadn’t taken a seat between Christine and Chance, I never would have heard this story. If I smoked, I might have been a witness. If I was a pill-head, someone else might be writing this account…

We met on the bus in the middle of Texas
two gals who’d seen way too much
we clicked like heels just east of Austin
The driver said no smoking or drugs

The windows measured out the miles
and the wheels rolled out our stories
We became fast friends across that aisle
before that old dog ever cleared Houston

I was going home to my babies
she was getting back with her man
and we took it as a helluva good omen
that her seatmate’s name was Chance

Chance was the name of my youngest
and my new friend Jessica said to me,
“Second chances on buses from Texas,
Girl, our meeting was a destiny meant to be!”

Maybe I was hungry for company
but our stories were so much alike
Chance said it sounds like fate to me
She slept on his shoulder from Slidell to Biloxi

In Mobile, Alabama for a five-hour layover
on Chance’s phone she called Palm Beach.
The words ‘I love you, honey, we’ll make this work”,
may have been the last ‘honey’ ever heard her speak.

We were smoking out front and this one guy
with dirty clothes and a leer caught my eye,
Talking to a couple in a wintry low voice
pointing toward a gray car with dark windows

No angel, I know a drug deal when I see it
and suggested we go back in for a bite
Chance held the door for the purchaser’s girl
The gray car drove away down the street

The dirty guy watched us drink coffee
Jessica wondered what he was peddling
She used pills for fun and recurrent leg pains
Chance leaned back, soon he was sleeping

When I came back from ordering breakfast
Jessica reached down for her purse
The dealer watched her wallet open
she counted out five twenties, got out of her seat

“He’s got the kind of pills I need, Christine
just watch my stuff  and don’t worry
I’ll be okay, he’s got it in his pocket
Or could you come out here with me?

I said no, something was striking me odd
This guy has been watching us far too long
And now he’s saying we gotta go to his car
I saw the other girl’s guy was still gone

Breakfast was ready, I didn’t want it
Chance and I followed too late
He had a gun in her side, a hand on her neck
The car sped off with Jessica in the back.

Security acted indifferent, told Us to call the cops
Before I dialed nine-eleven, the first guy stumbled in
he’d jumped out of the car, run back to the station
Happily alive, but their money’d been taken

“They were going to kill me, I know it
Something was said about a place by the Bay
Dark guys with black hearts and dead eyes,
Where’s your friend, by the way?”

Chance and I gave our statements,
we received little hope in return
the cops acted burnt-out, jaded,
almost content to let the bad guys win

Just two of us now, we got on the next bus
Some guy with a laptop asked questions
He was a blogger who wanted a story
But we might never know how it ends

Would they find her in six feet of water?
Or naked and bruised, but breathing?
If she was dead, who’d tell her lover?
Was she thinking about her children?

I told him I wished I’d gotten a plate number
I wished I’d gotten the make of the car
I wish the cops had cared more, I said
And that fortune had not been so unfair.

I wish Chance had brought better luck,
that’d I held Jessica back, that she’d had no pain
I wish she hadn’t told me her life story
I wish she hadn’t told me her name.

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2 thoughts on “On Knowing Her Name

  1. I enjoyed this, G.! On the first read through, I was assuming you were Christine, and I was confused. Then I reread it, and realized I had missed the bit of you “hearing” the story. It’s ironic that you chose those names; one is my middle and the other was going to be the name of my daughter (But I had boys.) Also, the name is one of my favorite characters from a show called Being There. Ever seen it?

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