Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Read this and you will want more! The Up Side of Down

The heat from the midday Texas sun seeped through my dark gray sweats, my standard uniform of late, bringing my body temperature to the boiling point. 
After trying the door of the Lexus, I realized I'd locked the keys inside. The alarm system was armed, the cats had returned to their roosting place, and something strange was wrong with my eyes. They'd begun to sting and water leaked from them. 

Tears? Oh no, no, no, no, no. 

It had been almost two days since I'd shed a tear over my pitiful situation, and I was not about to start that up again now. 

I began walking as fast as I could down the gravel road leading to the water tower, where the local high school kids used graffiti to proclaim their date with freedom. I'd reached the half-way mark, when I heard the noise of a vehicle quickly approaching behind me. From the sound of its engine, I guessed it was at least the three-quarter-ton variety. 

Too late, I realized I was standing in the middle of the road close to a sharp, ninety-degree corner fittingly dubbed 'Dead Man's Curve'. I managed to vault for the ditch just as the truck's driver spotted me. To his credit, he gave it all he had in an effort to avoid hitting me. Unfortunately, this landed his vehicle in the opposite ditch. 

It took us both a minute to come to terms with our situation. We'd both been lucky that there wasn't a crash and no one was hurt. My pride was a little bruised, but I'd survive that. 

I watched as the man in the truck got out and looked around in a daze. "Are you all right?" he asked, as he crossed the road to my ditch. 

"I'm fine. Sorry about the near miss. It doesn't look as if anything's hurt, though. You should be able to drive right out of that ditch." I glanced at the huge black four-by-four truck he drove. Not that uncommon for this part of Texas where everything was larger, including the vehicles we drove. 

He ignored my observation. "Did you have car trouble down the road?" I could feel him looking me over. By this point, I was perspiring like crazy. My face was shiny with sweat, and he was staring at my hair. My hand went up to it automatically. For the life of me, I couldn't remember if I'd brushed it today or not. Or for that matter, this week. 

"I'm fine. Thank you for stopping." I turned to continue going wherever I was going before the run-in, when he stopped me. 

"Wait. Can I take you somewhere?" He looked around the deserted area in confusion. "Do you live around here?" Now there was the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question I'd been avoiding since I'd arrived in Down two weeks earlier. 

"Um, sort of." I could tell my answer only served to pique his curiosity. Maybe he was imagining me as the neighborhood burglar, or the town's only homeless woman. 

He reached for his wallet before awkwardly asking, "Do you need some money?" 

Shocked by his assumption, I was unable to do more than stare back at him with my mouth agape. Do I look that desperate? I thought about how embarrassed poor Thelma, the champion of the less fortunate, would be if she could see the pity in this man's eyes. 

"Here." He shoved some money into my hand and headed back toward the Black Beast. "Get yourself something to eat and maybe a change of clothes." 

He easily maneuvered his truck out of the ditch and waved politely as he drove away. I glanced down at the money in my hand in shock. He'd shoved a hundred dollar bill into it. 

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1 comment:

  1. I have been meaning to pick up my copy of this book since it came out. Now that I have read the excerpt, I'm going to stop thinking about and just buy it. Great excerpt, Mary, and great title and cover art! I am usualy not a big fan of first person POV, but the excerpt drew me right in!!! Can't wait to read the whole book!