Amie Franco is sitting in the front seat of my car and I’m too afraid to make a move because of the gun on her lap. It’s not pointed at me, but it’s there.
“Turn right up here,” says pointing to a side street up ahead. She ties a bandanna under her chin and slips a pair of dark sunglasses over her eyes, even though it’s almost dark out.
“Ok.” I turn the car where she says because what else can I do? I’m still too shocked and confused to think on my own. I want to ask her where we’re going. Or better yet, what the hell just happened, but I can’t form words. Not so long as the barrel of her revolver stares at me.
“Over there.” She points to the Motel just ahead. Amie pulls her dark hair back into a low ponytail. “I ain’t eighteen,” she says. “Are you?”
I shake my head no and park the car. “Seventeen.”
“Well crud. C’mere.”
I swallow down my weird fear of her and lean across the seat.
She grabs my hair and ruffles it. “Untuck your shirt,” she says.
I struggle with it, my car isn’t very big.
My shirt untucked and my hair a mess, she sizes me up. “That’ll work. Go rub your hands on the tire. Get ‘em dirty. Makes you look older. Like a drifter or something.”
“What for?” I don’t get it. What does she want me to do?
“So’s you can go rent us a room for the night. They don’t rent to minors. But I bet you can pass for at least eighteen.”
“Oh.” I stare back at her. Amie’s looking at me like I’m some project of hers. Like one of the weird sculptures she makes in art class. “I don’t have much cash.” Truth is I don’t have any. I used the last twenty I had to buy the gas I’ve used being her getaway driver.
“It’s on me,” she says, handing me a wad of the bills she stole from Ronnie’s. That’s what she did. She robbed Ronnie’s convenience store.
I nod, even though I know how wrong this is and I take the dough.
I walk inside and up to the counter. I try to time my stride so I don’t look nervous. The attendant is reading a magazine. He’s a skinny dude with glasses and frizzy red hair.
“Help you?” He says, not looking at me.
“Uh, yeah. I need a room. Just for tonight.”
He puts his book down at peers at me over his glasses. “How old are you?”
“Eighteen.” I wipe my sweating palms on my jeans. He can’t see my hands from behind the counter.
“Shoot,” I say. I’m sweating bad. “Left it in my truck. I broke down a few miles back and walked up here.”
“That so?” He leans over the counter and peeks out into the parking lot. He can’t see my car from here. I parked as far away as I could. “You don’t have a young girl out there you’re trying to sneak in here, do you, boy?”
If he only knew. “No, sir. Just tired.”
He looks me over again. “Well, all right.”
My shoulders slump and I hold back my sigh of relief.
“Chad.” Crap. I flinch. Should’ve given a fake name.
He writes it down. “Chad what?”
I can’t give him my last name. My parents are the only Winthrop’s in Joplin. I glance around the room and spot a Bob Dylan record leaning up against an old turn table. “Uh, Dylan.”
“Okay, Mr. Dylan. It’ll be forty for the night. One full-sized bed ok?”
I nod. “Sure. Yeah it’s just me. That’s fine.” With a shaky hand I slap a fifty on the counter. “Keep the change.”
“Thanks.” He hands me a small brass key. “Room 409,” he says. I take the key and clutch it in my fist like my life depends on getting it safely out to Amie in the car.
Hell, maybe it does.
The room is tiny. The bed is okay though. It’s bigger than my bed at home. Amie flops down on the end of it and kicks off her red cowgirl boots. I know those boots. I’ve marveled at them, well mostly her legs but the boots were there too, the whole school year. She wore them with everything.
Tonight it was a denim miniskirt and a white tube top. If I bent down enough I bet I could see her underwear between her legs, but the gun on the bed beside her keeps me from peeking.
“That’s better.” Amie looks up at me and smiles. She’s the only seventeen-year-old girl in school who wears red lipstick. It stands out against the milky whiteness of her skin. “You can sit down. I ain’t gonna bite ya.” She puts the gun on the night stand and taps the bed beside her.
“Oh.” It just registers that I’ve been standing in the doorway staring at her. “Sorry.” I sit down beside her. I don’t know what the hell to do with my hands. I end up letting them dangle between my knees.
“You’re Chad, right?”
“Ah, yeah.” It shocks me that she’s asking. We’ve had almost every class together since she started coming to school. She was home schooled before this last year, but I’d seen her around town before then. I guess I just assumed she knew me. But why would she? We ran in opposite directions. Never collided. Until now.
“Yeah. I know who you are.”
She smiles. She pulls a piece of gum out of the front pocket on her skirt and pops it in her mouth. “Want some?”
“I’m good. Thanks.”
She shrugs. “Didn’t cost me nothin’.”
I laugh a little, even though it feels wrong. She’s a criminal. I’m sitting on a bed with a crazy criminal, in a room bought with stolen money, watching her red lips smack, chewing on stolen gum.
“So I guess I owe you somethin’ for helping me out back there.”
“Ah, no. No you don’t owe me anything.” I lean forward.
Amie smirks. She inches closer and opens her knees a little till her thigh is touching mine. I stare down at her bare knee and swallow back my nerves.
“Nothin’ you want, Chad?”
Yeah. There’s a whole lot I want, but I shake my head. “I’m good.”
She leans in close to me till her lips are just a breath from my cheek. It takes every ounce of self-control I have not to turn and kiss her. I pretend that I don’t want to. That I don’t want her. But Amie isn’t dumb. And if there’s anything she knows, its guys.
She reaches for my belt buckle.
Come back Wednesday for Part 2 by Natalie!
Photo by The Justified Sinner via flickr creative commons
Welcome to Tangled Fiction, where three YA writers collaborate to complete one story!
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday one TF writer will post a piece of the same story. Each of us will be responsible for one beginning, middle, and end in a single month. The fourth week will be full of surprises, we're sure, and we'll share them with you when we know what they are.