Yellow tank top, tight denim shorts, sandals, backpack. Tan, blond, twenties. No bra. Shoulder tattoo, a red rose. Her gum popped. “Well?” she said. “You gonna give me a ride or not?”
“I guess so,” I said. She had approached me boldly, and at first I thought she was a hooker. No way, she said. She just needed to get to Orlando. She said I looked safe.
I thought her incredibly naive to make such an assumption, but if I didn’t take her, she might well get herself into trouble. Besides, I was going to Asheville; it would be on the way. Maybe she would be able to carry on an intelligent conversation.
Wondering what other travelers thought about her getting into my car, I pulled out of the rest area and punched the cruise control when I got the big Cadillac up to exactly five over the speed limit. I still had seven hundred miles to go, and now most of it would be with her in the car with me.
I could smell her. It was cloves, maybe her chewing gum, which seemed to pop incessantly. I cracked the window a little, but it made a whistling sound I knew would anger me quickly.
She slumped in the seat next to me, the impudent tattooed shoulder between us. She had kicked off her sandals and had her feet tucked up, toes moving slowly. Her shorts had inched up, revealing too much flesh. Her breasts sagged in the light fabric that covered them, and her nipples jutted. She needed a bra. She popped her gum again.
“Would you mind getting rid of the gum?” I asked.
She stared at me. I tried to keep my attention on the road, but her gaze drew me and I had to glance at her face. Her eyes were bottomless black, meaning her hair probably wasn’t really blond. “What the fuck’s wrong with it?” she asked. She was grinning, holding the gum between her front teeth.
“I can’t stand cloves,” I said.
She studied the armrest in the door and found the right button and punched it repeatedly, inching the window down in little bursts of motion. Each widening of the opening let in more baked August air. When she had the window all the way down she blew the gum out of her mouth and through the opening, where it disappeared. She punched the window back up again and looked at me. “You didn’t like the popping, did you?”
“No. Thank you for getting rid of it.”
“You a salesman?”
“Bean counter. That’s what Gareth calls them.”
“Gareth. My dad. How old are you?”
“Man, I hope I don’t live that long.”
“Sixty-eight. Gareth’s sixty-eight. That sucks. Forty-two is bad enough.”
“How old are you?”
“Okay, twenty-three. My birthday’s next month.” She tipped her head back and closed her eyes. I could see fine golden hairs on her throat. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“Donald. What’s yours?”
“Donald? For real?”
“Pastel? I don’t think so. What’s your real name?”
“It’s Pastel. I’m gonna change it to Pastel.”
“What is it?”
“What’s wrong with Patricia?”
She turned her head and looked at me. “It’s stupid. You have to call me Pastel.” She slipped her fingers down the top of her shirt and scratched the space between her breasts, making them move. “You married?”
“Dumped ya, huh?”
“Something like that,” I said. It seemed everybody assumed I was the one who got dumped.
“How long you been divorced?”
“It’s not final yet.”
She scratched again. “Does the radio work? Got a CD player?”
“They didn’t put CD players in cars this old. You can look for something on the radio if you like.” I hoped she wouldn’t, but she began fiddling with the knobs, leaning forward. Her breasts took a peek at me. She found something loud and harsh.
“How fast will this old heap go?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t speed.”
She leaned close and looked at the speedometer. I could smell cloves again. “You’re doing seventy-five,” she said. “That’s speeding. And it says it’ll do one- twenty. Try it.”
“Chicken. If you get it up to a hundred we’ll get there sooner.”
“Not good for the car. It would be dangerous and waste gasoline. I would get a ticket and have to pay a fine, and we would lose all the time we might gain.”
“Bean counter.” She threw herself back in her seat with a loud sigh. “Look. I’ll show you my tits if you get it up to ninety.”
“No. Forget it.”
“C’mon, Don. Go for it.” She turned in her seat so that she was leaning against the door and yanked up her top. Her untanned breasts were like beacons, drawing my eyes. “Watch the road, Don,” she said, pulling the top down again.
“Keep yourself covered,” I said. “And stop calling me Don.
And fasten your seat belt.”
“Ninety, Don, Don-ald. Ninety M P H. You can touch these babies when you get this heap up to ninety.” She pulled the top up again.
“Ninety, Don-ald.” She pulled her top off over her head and rubbed her breasts with it. “They’re real soft,” she said, throwing the top to the floor in front of her.
“We’ll get arrested. Put your shirt back on.”
She got on her knees and leaned close. “C’mon, Don-ald.
Push on the pedal.”
“Sit down! People will see you!”
Pastel leaned and pressed her soft breasts against my arm. “Ninety, Don-ald. Do it now.” She began rolling her shoulders, rubbing her breasts on me. Her head was very close to mine and I could feel her breath against my face.
I looked safe, she’d said. Right.
I did books. I didn’t drink. I didn’t even swear. I never watched racy movies, and I never went to nude bars. I wore bow ties and wingtip shoes. And a girl half my age was rubbing her naked breasts on me, offering to let me touch them.
All I had to do was push on the accelerator pedal. A simple muscular contraction, pulling my Achilles tendon, forcing my toe down, was all that was needed. Her breasts shifted amiably against my arm as she continued to urge me. My cock, so long dormant, was reacting, stirring, reminding me it was there.
It was cause and effect: I could press the pedal; I could touch her breast. But there were other effects. In my mind I built an inventory of things that could happen if I touched her breasts. The list scrolled in my head and I watched it, trying to examine the contents, looking for risk and danger. If only she would stop rubbing me with her breasts I would be able to concentrate! It would be irresponsible to “go with it,” as she might say, without carefully considering the implications. I was not that kind of person.
I was a careful, deliberate person, starting a new life. And I was being asked to drive my car faster than I ever had by a young, firm-bodied, impudent girl named Pastel, who was rubbing her bare breasts on my arm. She would let me touch them.
Life is short.
I pressed the pedal to the floor. The engine roared and the nose of the car lifted as the automatic transmission shifted. Terrified, I let go of the wheel with one hand and grabbed one of her breasts. Her nipple was a hard button and she rolled her shoulders, rasping it on my palm.
“Attaboy, Don-ald,” she said. “You’ve got soft hands, bean counter.” She rubbed again and I felt her nipple stiffen even more.
The car seemed to vibrate dangerously and I wanted to step on the brakes, but I kept my foot pressed to the floor and my hand pressed against her softness. The engine began to scream.
“Go, Don-ald!” she shouted, her voice high. “Give it hell!”
I kneaded her breast as my eyes cycled from the road to the rearview mirror to the speedometer. The speed rose steadily as the heavy car gained momentum, and the sound of the tires and the thick summer air we were plunging through became a roar. I began to wonder if I could get my mouth on one of her nipples without losing sight of the road.
Pastel took the decision from me, pulling away and moving back to the passenger seat. I took my foot off the pedal but our momentum had already brought us to a tractor-trailer and I swung out to pass. He blew his horn as we passed the cab, startling me. Pastel lowered her window and stuck out her arm to wave. “I think he liked me,” she said, laughing and turning the radio up louder. “Pass another one.”
I saw her hands move and glanced at her. She was tracing her fingertips around her nipples, which had become quite distended. Her window was still down and her hair was floating around her head. I stepped on the gas and caught another truck. Another horn blew, and Pastel waved again.
Then, as I began to slow the car, she opened the front of her shorts and slipped her hand inside. “Keep going,” she said, looking at me. Her cheeks were flushed. “They’re probably talkin’ about me on the CB,” she added, her hand squirming inside her shorts. “Find another fuckin’ truck.”
I looked back at the road. Another truck loomed in front of us. When I pulled out to pass I saw there was actually a line of four trucks. As we drew abreast of the first cab I heard the horn, blasting loudly through the open window.
Pastel raised her hips and pushed her shorts off. I kept the speed up, glancing sidelong at her as often as I dared. Her pubic hair was wispy yellow, and I noticed for the first time the blue-violet color of her fingernails as she continued to stroke herself.
More trucks. More horns. I eventually realized the truckers were slowing to allow our traveling road show to catch them. The black asphalt seemed to be streaking under us as the car settled, almost floating over the road. The trucks appeared to be moving backwards toward us.
I began to grin like a crazy man and horns blared as Pastel moved her hand faster, harder, fingers fluttering in her crotch like a frantic bird. “Slow down,” she grunted, reaching out the window with her free hand to wave the trucks forward. “Stay in the passing lane. And pinch my fuckin’ nipple.”
I slowed, turning off the cruise control. I reached, found her hard nipple and began rolling it between my thumb and forefinger. She was moaning, the sound muted by the wind rushing by her window. One by one the trucks caught and passed us, horns sounding.
Pastel came. It was a screaming, thrashing orgasm, and she raised her hips up, bucking like a boat tossed in heavy seas. She slumped in her seat as the last trucker blasted his way past, fist out the window, thumb in the air. “Holy fucking shit,” she said, rolling up her window. I glanced at her and saw droplets of perspiration had collected on her upper lip and between her breasts.
In the closed cavern of the car I caught new scents: hot oil and metal, and woman. I glanced at her and she turned, grinning at me. “Now I blow you while you pass them again,” she said, getting to her knees and reaching for my zipper.
I grinned and stepped on the gas. Pastel’s bare ass was in the air, pointed at the window. I turned the radio up all the way as she freed my cock, and used the controls on my armrest to lower her window, knowing the horns would blow again. I got the car up to eighty-five and punched the cruise control as her sweaty upper lip grazed my cock. I reached down and grabbed a breast.
The trucks were still slow, waiting for us. Every driver gave me a thumbs-up as we roared past them, Pastel’s head bobbing enthusiastically in my lap.
Just before I went off I decided to grow a pony tail.