“How the freak did I get myself here?” I thought.
‘Here’ was somewhere between Edmonton and Calgary on the #2. Early September and already the nights were chilly and the night sky was lit with stars unhampered by city lights. While it was pretty as all get out, I could use some city lights right now. Alone in the middle of nowhere, hitch-hiking by myself was creating a special tension in my solar plexus. Bravado got me into this but I will need all my wits to get me out of it. Regina was a long way away.
The #2 might be a major highway but cars were easily outnumbered by semis roaring by. The trucks rarely stopped on the highway, their momentum required more fore-thought than that. My only chance with them was connecting at a gas station. But I had to get to one first.
“I swear that is the last time I take a ride from a farmer.” I said to no one in particular. “They always drop you off in the middle of no where.”
I was shivering even though I had on just about every piece of clothing I owned and my stomach was objecting to our enforced fast.
“What if I don’t get a ride?” “What if I do get a ride with a maniac?” What if…?”
The ‘what if’s’ were flooding my brain leaving little room for rational thought. As if rational thought would do me any good right now. The time for rational thought was long past.
Finally a set of brake lights were followed by back up lights! That he wasn’t going to make me run half a mile to his car had to mean he was a nice guy… right?
I piled in with a grateful groan as the warmth flowed over me. I sized him up quickly before I shut the door, as if I would jump out. At this point I would take my chances with a slathering vampire over outside. He was an older man, which meant to my 17 year old eyes likely in his 40s, with what I thought was a kindly face. Wishful thinking? Maybe, time will tell.
I shut the door.
He smiled and said something inane like, ‘It must be cold out there.’ and ‘What is a young girl like you doing out here by yourself?’. Sigh. Heat AND intelligent conversation is just too much to wish for I guess.
Luckily he was going all the way to Calgary and luckily he didn’t seem interested in raping and pillaging. Yah. He even bought me dinner when we stopped for gas. This was a very good score.
We chatted about nothing in particular and I tried to stay awake and so the time passed until we arrived in Calgary. He had mentioned he and his wife have a horse ranch in the foothills west of Calgary. Before he dropped me off, he offered me a job, if I wanted it. I was stunned silent. My heat doped mind tried to kick into gear with little success. He saw I was torn and suggested I talk it over with some friends and think about it. He was staying at a hotel and leaving in the morning; if I wanted to come with him I was to wait for him in the lobby. I got out and waved as he pulled away.
Of course my ‘friends’ were no where to be found, they were transients, both as friends as well as locations. I was on my own with this one.
West or east? Classic decision, eh?
Did I tell him how horse obsessed I am? Was this a version of “Come see my puppies’? Was he going to get me in the wilds of Alberta and turn me into a sex slave? Worse, make me clean his house? Or would it be the opportunity of a life time. I was returning to absolutely nothing in Regina. I was basically a run-away. This offer was one of the few things that had managed to get through the fog of drugs and youth where I had a crystal realization that, for good or bad, my future pivoted on the point of this decision.
But. No one would know where I was or with whom. I tried to make a collect call to my friends in Regina but no answer.
Dawn found me groggy and no closer to an answer. I must have decided 30 times, walking towards and then away from the hotel. Anguish.
Finally procrastination made my decision for me.
But it gave me no peace, and I wonder to this day… what if?