A Woman Alone by David Massengill

Written in lipstick on the rear window of a car parked on the side of the Interstate:

PLEASE HELP.  I’M A WOMAN ALONE.  CAR BROKE DOWN.  NEED A LIFT.

Seventy-six miles south on the Interstate.  Hank’s Bodacious Burgers.  Written on a stall wall in the ladies’ restroom:

He says “Where can I take you?”

She says “Going south to California

I live just past the border”

She sees his hand near his crotch his

thing probably growing under his jeans

She touches her purse and thinks

whatever he’s got my knife is

bigger

The Chevron station across the street from Hank’s Bodacious Burgers.  Written on a crumpled piece of paper the wind blew against the side of a pump:

You first see them all as pesky devils but then

when you get rid of enough of them you suspect

that you’re becoming a devil yourself

Two hundred twenty-one miles south on the Interstate.  Nora’s Family Restaurant.  Written in crayon on a placemat spattered with barbecue sauce:

Truck Driver Danny + Stranded Rachelle = On the Highway to Romance?

And just below, in different handwriting:

Rachelle will cut Danny from his neck past his heart and all the way down to his !

Eleven miles east.  The Oregon Pines Motel, Room 9.  Written on a piece of motel stationery a maid found in a trashcan:

Maybe you can change.  You resisted during the drive from Washington.  You didn’t have Danny pull over on a side street after dark, and he got away because you scared him away.  On purpose.  Maybe you aren’t tangled in all those bloody roads.  You haven’t cut up that many truckers since the last time you left home

California – 2

Arizona – 3

New Mexico – 4

Utah – 7

Idaho – 3

Wyoming – 2

Washington – 2

Written on another piece of stationery a maid found in a trashcan:

but I think of those redfaced pigs on all the freeways looking for women and girls to do what they did to me and those others 15 years ago and it’s so hard to just lie here

Written on a cardboard sign left on the side of Highway 20:

HEADING HOME
TO
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

From Jenna Larson’s journal:

August 28 – Onyx and I picked up a strange hitchhiker lady today.  Rachelle.  She was edgy looking but pretty, had wavy dyed blonde hair down to her shoulders.  Lots of mascara, so that she had raccoon eyes.  Her irises were such a fair blue, almost supernatural looking.  She was skinny but strong seeming, too.  She had thick wrists and veiny hands.  I asked her if she wanted some of my oatcake, and she shook her head.  I told her Onyx and I were going to meet up with some friends to do a vision quest.  I said we would be way up in the hills apart from each other for some days with no food purifying until we experienced a vision.  “I could use purifying,” she said.  She didn’t say much else.  Sometimes I looked at her in the rearview mirror and saw her twitching, as if she had something under her skin making her move that way.

Rachelle left us at a fruit stand.  She was standing on the side of the Interstate with her big red leather purse over her shoulder, smoking cigarettes while Onyx and I were checking out the berries.  She looked agitated, and she kept glancing at us impatiently with those raccoon eyes.  Then a truck pulled over, and a handsome short guy with black parted hair and smiling green eyes got out and started talking to her.  He looked like he had a crush on her, and she looked confused.  Then she just chucked her cigarette and called to me, “I’m going with him.”  “Who’s him?” I asked, nervous for her because she seemed unstable and like she could fall into deep trouble.  “Danny,” she said.

Sixty-six miles south on the Interstate.  The Border Bakery.  Written on a stall wall in the ladies’ restroom:

He says “After we split I missed you

I really think we have a connection

I figured you’d been hurt bad that’s

why you pushed me away like that”

She says “Yes I’ve been hurt but

I’ve also learned how to hurt back

and something in me likes to hurt back”

He says “Maybe you should let love in

love will burn through the bad”

But I don’t know

One hundred two miles south on the Interstate.  Oak Cliffs, California.  Written on a piece of Oregon Pines Motel stationery found in a parking lot:

Danny took me to a church, this yellow wooden building that was almost 100 years old.  Not far from my house, but I didn’t know about it.  He said I had to see the gardens.  Radiant.  Sunflowers, lavender blooming violet, and these huge spiky red flowers that reminded me of exploding hearts.  Bees everywhere.  We sat on a white bench and Danny put his hand on my back until I scooted away.  He asked me if I wanted to go inside the church, and part of me did want to, but part of me was afraid something horrible would happen like my skin would start melting or I’d catch on fire.

Danny said his mom was a “wounded woman” like me.  But did she have a knife like mine?

He wants to stay at my house tonight.  He’s in the store right now, buying groceries for the fried chicken dinner he’s going to cook us.  As if I were his girlfriend.  As if I could be anyone’s girlfriend.  He promised “No naughty business, just sleeping.”  I don’t know if I’ll be able to shut my

Written in a burnt journal found in the weedy yard of 654 Pioneersmen Road:

Danny gave me this journal.  He bought it for me at the store because I told him on the drive that I liked to write about things I’d been through.  “You like to bear witness” he told me.

I keep checking on him, making sure he’s still downstairs on the couch.  “Whatever you do you cannot come up here” I told him.  I think he listened.  I just saw him lying on his back, the moonlight making his shirtless body look like marble.  Like one of those angel statues in the church garden.

I wish it were an angel I saw in the trees that night 15 years ago.

Written on various blackened pages of the burnt journal:

-can’t sleep, so I’ll “bear witness” for you, Danny.  Maybe I can tear out this page and give it to you.  Then I wouldn’t ever have to tell you out-

-when that trucker (the Worst of all the truckers) picked me up.  My car had broken down while I was driving from Spokane to Seattle for a weekend trip.  I was thinking about moving because I’d lost my job at a deli, and I was tired of my parents harassing me about getting a husb-

-wide, friendly enough looking man with curly red hair and a beard.  He said he’d drive me to the next gas station, but we never made it there.  At dusk, he took an exit onto a narrow desert road.  I was asking him where we were going when he covered my mouth with a weird smelling handkerchief.  I remember looking up at the stars and seeing them spin-

-stretch of black trees that didn’t seem to belong in the desert.  Me in my underwear against sharp leaves.  The trucker reaching under his heaving white belly to unbuckle his belt.  Women’s clothes hanging from one of the tree trunks:  a torn blouse and a pink T-shirt with holes in it, a couple of stained skirts, nylons.  The realization that I was lying between two corpses.  Screaming, my scream-

-woke while floating above the dead bodies the half naked trucker the big knife next to him soon I was at the treetops in the shadows and I saw a darker shadow perched on one branch it was larger than a bird but also with talons it looked at me with red eyes and asked would you like to come back to life and injure him as much as he has injured you yes I said electrified with rage oh y-

-used the knife, Danny.  I used it to cut open that white belly and I’ve cut open so much more, probably too much more.  I was 26 when I died, and I’ve been stuck at that same age, stuck in that same black forest in all the years-

The final entry in the burnt journal:

The sun will be up soon and a new day will start.  A morning with Danny.

Written in blood on the bedroom mirror:

He snuck up before dawn

Can I get in he said

on my bed hand on my leg

They always want to get in you

WELL I CAN GET IN THEM TOO

Written in blood on the side of the house at 654 Pioneersmen Road:

DEMON LIVES HERE

I KILL OVER AND OVER

DON’T LET ME LEAVE

THIS BURNING HOUSE

*

Written in lipstick on the rear window of a car parked on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway:

PLEASE HELP.  I’M A WOMAN ALONE.  CAR BROKE DOWN.  NEED A LIFT.

David Massengill doesn’t own a car.  His short stories and works of flash fiction have appeared in various literary journals, including Word Riot, Tainted Tea, 3 A.M. Magazine, Flashes in the Dark, and MicroHorror.  His Web site is www.davidmassengillfiction.com.

5 thoughts on “A Woman Alone by David Massengill”

  1. And David Massengill makes a f*cking brilliant debut at PMM! This reminds me of a Chuck P. book. Bizarre sandwhich rolled up in a thinly sliced fragments of horror. This story is a huge risk (I love risk takers!), and it played out absolutely perfect.
    Good to see you here, David!

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