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Walk About, Chapter Six
Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Five, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.
By Darlene Franklin-Campbell
"Where the devil is Pinkie taking us?" Rosie asked. She sat in the passenger seat of Ace's Mustang. "We've stopped at every creek, pond and river we've come to, throwing car parts and stuff away. Why's she having us do such weird stuff? We've been on the road four daggum days! My butt is sore and I haven't peed in the last three hours. I'm liable to get a urinary tract infection."
They followed the car in front of them as Pinky turned off from the main highway onto a one lane gravel road that was little more than a dirt path.
"I don't know," Ace said, "but she better not cause me to drag the bottom out of my car."
Then Pinky stopped in a clearing near a dilapidated barn. She got out. Ace pulled up beside her and she and Rosie started to get out, but Pinky motioned for them to stay, shaking her head and holding up her palm.
Rosie got back in and slammed the door. "Why does she get to boss us around?"
"Maybe because she knows these people and we don't," Ace said.
Pinkie put her fingers in her mouth and whistled. Then she turned back to her sisters, again holding up a palm that signaled for them to wait.
After about five minutes, Rosie rolled her window down. "Pinkie what are we doing?"
"Don't get out. They don't know you."
"Who don't know us?" Rosie asked.
After another ten minutes someone replied with the same sound Pinkie had made. She answered. "Y'all git on up now."
When she said that, two men came strolling out of the woods beyond the barn. One was tall, blond and very fit. The other was shorter, stockier and had hair the color of a carrot. Both of them were dressed in camouflage. They approached Pinkie and stood speaking so low that Ace couldn't make out what they were saying.
"Wow," Rosie said, leaning over Ace to get a better look at the men, "do you see that blond guy?"
"Really, Rosie? Really? We just dumped your man in the lake and you're looking at another one."
"Well, a girl can look," Rosie huffed and eased back into her seat.
Clyde had remained in Pinkie's car but now Pinkie was motioning for her to get out and come over. Then she motioned for Ace and Rosie to get out, too.
Rosie flipped the sun visor down and straightened her hair as best as she could then pulled her top down to show a little cleavage as she got out.
Ace rolled her eyes. "Seriously, Rosie?"
"This is Samson," Pinkie said, indicating the red head, "and this is Johnson." She pointed to the blond.
Ace and Clyde nodded their hellos.
"Nice to meet you," Rosie said, holding out a dainty and manicured hand.
The men just nodded.
Rosie frowned, lowering her hand.
"These are some of my acquaintances," Pinkie said. "Ace, give Samson your keys."
"Don't ask any questions. Just give him your keys and get your stuff out of the trunk. Then we follow these guys to the barn."
"But my car," Ace bemoaned.
"It will be fine," Pinky said. "A purple Mustang really does stand out."
"But everything about me stands out," Ace said.
"We may have to change that," Pinky said. "We don't want to stand out."
Ace got her prized pool sticks out of the car. "Well, I don't care who's after us. These sticks are coming with me."
Pinky stared at her for a second. "Yes, they could come in handy."
"Of course they could," Ace said.
"They could be used as bow staffs," Pinkie said.
"R...remember when that dog tried to bite me?" Clyde asked.
They all remembered. When Clyde was ten, the family had been camping behind one of the many carnivals they traveled with when a big dog came out of the woods and attacked her. Their dad had laid his pool stick on a picnic table and gone in the RV for something. Pinky had grabbed the pool stick and had beaten the dog off Clyde with it. In the process she had broken the stick.
"These sticks don't whack," Ace said with an air of certainty. "And this car is my only child."
"These boys will take care of your car," Pinkie said. "They're friends."
Ace thought they looked more like thugs or assassins but she didn't say anything. She felt like crying. She loved her car, but then she looked at Rosie. She loved her sister more, even if she did think she was the ditsiest girl ever born. "Okay," she said, handing her keys to Samson. "Please be nice to her."
"Wait here," Johnson told them. Then he took off toward the barn.
"You have money?" Samson asked Pinky.
She nodded. "Enough to last a few miles."
"You always survive," he said.
"Always," she affirmed. Just then a white king cab F150 came around the barn.
"Oh, my God," Ace said. "That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Looks like a power company truck."
"Makes me wanna puke," Rosie said.
"What do you think, Clyde?" Pinky asked.
Clyde walked around it, opened the doors, climbed on the back then turned to her sisters. "It'll do."
"Then, Ladies, that's your new ride," Samson announced.
"Just go on and take me to prison," Rosie scrunched her nose. "If I got to ride in that hideous contraption, I'd rather go to jail."
"Good Lord, Pinky," Ace exclaimed. "The cops will probably pull us over for driving something so ugly. Nana's turning over in her grave. We're Romani! We don't do ugly. What's happened to you? Your flare and sense of style is completely gone. College has done stripped you of your heritage."
"It's durable," Pinky said. "It is spacious. It will do for now."
"What do you mean, for now?" Ace asked.
Pinky and Samson exchanged a glance. Then she said, "Samson and Johnson don't expect us to return in the same vehicle we drive out in."
"You mean if we ever return at all, don't you?" Ace said.
Pinky nodded. "The road we are about to embark upon is an unseen path. When Rosie killed James Allen she set us on a path, a destiny, that has no point of return."
"Pinky!" Rosie blurted, "You just told these guys..."
"Told us nothing," Johnson said.
"We are members of the same order," Pinky told her sisters.
"You mean like a gang?" Rosie said.
"Something like that," Pinky said. "We have a pact of our own."
Rosie and Ace just glared at Pinky.
"Clyde's a member, too," she said.
They turned their gazes upon Clyde, the shy, quiet girl who stuttered and carried hydrochloric acid, plumbers tape and all manner of odd things in her over-sized purse.
"Well," Ace said. "That explains a lot."
Rosie sighed. "Maybe we've all been a little too out of touch with each other."
"Only physically," Ace said. "We always have each other's vibes."
They took all their belongings from Pinky's car and the beautiful purple Mustang and placed them into the truck and drove away from the two men.
Ace felt sick inside. Leaving her Mustang was the most difficult thing she had ever done. It was far more difficult than leaving her husband had been. That Mustang had always been good to her.
Pinky sat on the backseat passenger side and stared out into the haze. It had been four days since they left the Mustang. She was tired of eating from gas stations and fast food joints; she was already beginning to feel the effects of a crappy diet. Not far from her, Rosie slipped in and out of fitful sleep. In the front seat Ace slept on the passenger and Clyde was at the wheel, yawning, and slapping herself periodically to stay awake.
They needed rest. They needed a place to stay for a while, and they needed decent food to eat. Pinky had a little cash left now and a few credit cards. She knew Ace and Rosie did, too, but they dared not use them. In fact, they were all but useless because they were so traceable. No, they needed more cash. She noticed a pool hall beside the road as they approached a small town. "Hmmm," she said.
"Hmmm, what?" Clyde responded.
"I want some real food," Pinky said. "No more slime jerky or hot fries or Vienna sausage or soda pop. I want something decent to eat. A real meal."
"Well, we can't use our credit cards," Clyde said. "So, how do you suppose we get a real meal?"
"I'll tell you when Ace and Rosie wake up. Right now, pull over and I'll drive for a while. You sleep."
So, somewhere on a backwoods Georgia road Clyde pulled over and Pinky took the wheel. She drove and planned as she drove through a sleepy little town and the more she drove, the more the plan unfolded in her mind.
After a couple of hours of driving and scheming Pinky pulled over to get gas at a small station. "Bathroom break, girls," she said.
Clyde yawned and stretched as best as she could. Her long legs were cramped and her back hurt. "My breath stinks," she said. "I hate sleeping in cars."
"It ain't a car," Ace said. "It's a truck, an ugly truck and we all look like crap. My clothes are wrinkled and my nail polish is coming off. I need a cigarette, too. So, where do we go from here?"
"Shopping," Pinky replied.
"Shopping?" her sisters said in unison.
"With what?"Ace said. "You were adamant about no credit cards and I only have a little bit of cash on me."
Pinky grinned. "We don't need credit cards. All we need is to get Rosie pregnant."
"I ain't getting pregnant," Rosie said. "In case you hadn't noticed my man is dead."
Pinky looked at Ace. One corner of her mouth went up. If there was anything that Ace understood about Pinky it was that once she got an idea on how to get something done, it would be flawless. Pinky's greatest strength had always been her ability to devise and execute a plan.
"What do you have up your sleeve?" Ace said.
"It...it...will be something weird," Clyde added.
"Weird?" Pinky said. "Rosie offing her man with poisonous weeds is weird."
"So, what's your brilliant plan?" Rosie smirked.
"Don't be snarky," Pinky said. "We are trying to help you."
"I don't even know what that means," Rosie huffed.
"Ace, you're the concerned friend. Clyde, you're cutting the power to the store and Rosie...."
"What? What am I?"
"You're pregnant," Pinky said.
Rosie squawked. "I can't play no pregnant woman. My stomach's not that big. I'm a little bloated cause of all the pop we've drunk but..."
"We'll fix your stomach. Ace can make a person look like anything."
"That's true," Ace said. "I am an artist with make up."
"Just act natural, Rosie. And things will go well," Pinky said.
"I...I...d-don't know about that," Clyde said. "She was acting natural when she poisoned James Allen."
"I ain't stupid," Rosie squawked. "Y'all always act like I'm the stupid one. What happened to me could happen to anybody."
"You're not stupid, Rosie," Ace said, "You just have a different set of skills and..."
"And if you want to live out your life in peace, you need to be willing to use them," Pinky said. "Now, let's take a potty break, pump some gas and when we're back on the road, I'll share my plan."
Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at https://www.dardet.com or her writer's blog at https://whisperingwind.blog to check out more of her work.
This story was posted on 2021-12-30 13:34:15
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