tagRomanceSometimes You Just Know

Sometimes You Just Know

byR410a©

First and foremost, thank you for all the comments, e-mails and positive scoring. There have been several requests for stories along the lines of an idea another Lit member has had, the following is one of those. The theme is not original, but I'm hoping the story will be satisfactory to the one who requested it. There are other stories based on member requests that I am working on. Happy reading.

*****

I'd noticed her a few times, always early in the morning. She would use the bathroom, clean up a little, then have a cup of coffee or something to eat if she had money. I was finishing my doctorate at Penn State and working at McDonalds, some chided me for working at what they called a burger joint, but doing so meant I didn't have to draw from what I'd saved for my upcoming trip, and I'd have fewer student loans to repay. It wasn't fancy or classy work, but they paid well, I get along well with people and they were willing to accommodate my hours.

I was generally through with classes about 2:30 and could work evenings, when everyone else wanted to be home, two days a week I had late classes and they would let me start early those days. I was also willing to work early shift on weekends when most of the others wanted off, I didn't really care, it was money in my pocket. My tuition was being paid for through the GI Bill and an education fund the old man had set up for me before he died. That covered my books and schooling, the rest was my responsibility.

I was the last of 5 kids, born when my mom was 46, my closest sibling was 16 when I entered this earth, which meant I basically grew up by myself. By the time I was ten they had all married and moved away. The oldest was known as the black sheep of the family and had died of an overdose ... somewhere, I never did know him other than through pictures and idle conversation.

The two girls had married military men and were in other parts of the world, the brother 16 years older than me was a pilot in the Air Force and stationed in Okinawa. Like my brother, Pa was a pilot in the Air Force, however he wasn't very ambitious, so in 30 years of service he never made it beyond flying C-130's or the rank of major. That wouldn't happen anymore, but in his day it was tolerated.

Though we were stationed all over the world, home ended up being Caribou, Maine. We had been stationed at Loring for 6 years before it closed, and the old man liked it so much it's where they moved when he retired. Mom was kind, gentle and loving, but not very smart by education standards, she was from the deep hills of Appalachia, quitting school at 14 to help the family. Pa found her busing tables at a restaurant in the hills, fell in love and convinced her father he would take good care of her, at 16 she was married, and to my dad's credit he did take good care of mother.

I went into the military upon graduation. I thought about the Air Force but didn't want a four year enlistment, so I went Marines. It was only 3, I was going in mainly for the GI bill and I could put up with

most anything for 3 years. 9-11 happened a year into my enlistment, I ended up in Afghanistan for 14 months, and with so little time left they made me a DI to finish my enlistment. I had been accepted to Bemidji State upon discharge, Bemidji is a part of the University of Minnesota system. I graduated there with a major in Physics, minors in both math and chemistry, I had to take so much of the two minors I figured I may as well get a degree in both.

The education fund was set up with restrictions, the two major ones were that I had to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.4 and I could have no arrests. I seemed to have gotten past my drinking stage in the Marines and kept my grades where they belonged. My scores and grade averages were high enough I skipped the master's program and was accepted into a doctorate program in Physics at Penn State. Here I was after 5 years with two weeks to go before I was finished. Once I turn in my thesis and defend it, which won't happen for months, I will have completed everything for my doctorate in Physics. In the mean time I would be filling a post-doc position at the national nuclear facility in Los Alamos, NM.

The fund was set up that if there was money left after college, it was mine for whatever I wanted. Working while in school helped maintain a reasonable balance in the fund and I had just over twenty thousand dollars. Mom had died three years prior, there was no reason for me to go back to Caribou after graduation, so it was going to be a matter of heading to my new job immediately. It was only my youngest sister and me at mom's funeral, it was as though once the others left home, they were gone forever. The only one I'd ever heard from in all my years was the youngest sister, and that was only a Christmas card if she knew where to send it.

There I stood on a Friday morning watching her as she came through the door. It was obvious she was homeless, she didn't appear to have a drug or drinking problem, she tried to clean herself up in our bathroom, but when you're on the streets you can only do so much. I was the only one on register, she mumbled a large black coffee, I brought back a meal which she immediately declined shaking her head no. I explained someone had paid for her coffee and meal, she reluctantly looked around, then took the meal to a table.

She appeared to be early 20's, maybe 5'7", hard to tell her weight as she was layered in clothes. Probably everything she owned. If the rest of her frame was as thin as her face, I didn't think it could be more than 120. It was me who'd covered her meal, I did it the next day and Sunday morning as well. She seldom spoke, she would nod her head as a thanks, but not speak. Her existence intrigued me. Someone called in sick Sunday which lengthened my shift, as I was headed home mid-afternoon I saw her along the road walking toward a creek a half mile from the McDonalds.

Though the bridge over the creek was 8 to 10 feet above the water, the banks were deep and the ends almost covered in vines, almost like a veil hiding the recess beneath the bridge. I wondered if this might be where she slept, if so, she was a desperate girl.

I had classes Monday but then saw her Tuesday morning, she ordered coffee and when I brought a meal there was no protestation, bowing her head in thanks as she walked away, I thought I had detected a grin. I was living in one of those rent by the week or month places, it was close to campus and cheaper than dorms or a regular apartment. Being month to month I didn't have to sign a lease and could terminate with a 30 day notice. My last day at State College was Wednesday, I had given my notice for the apartment last month and told Mickey D's Wednesday was my last, I was ready to drive to New Mexico.

I couldn't get that girl out of my head, Wednesday I waited alongside the road in the afternoon watching to see if she did live under the creek bridge. About four I saw her walking down the road and then disappeared into the wooded area. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her emerge to my right and then go through the vines hanging over the bridge. My heart was pounding as I contemplated talking with her, after waiting fifteen minutes I quietly made my way under the bridge. Upon seeing me she instantly panicked, gesturing with my hands I was able to calm her and sat about 5 feet from her.

"Can you hear me?" She nodded yes. "Do you understand me?" Another nod. "I'm not going to hurt you, I need you to listen to me carefully and not panic. Can you do that?" Another nod.

"You look as though you're old enough to make your own decisions and you aren't a runaway teen. Am I right?" She nodded. "Listen to me carefully. I'm leaving town tomorrow going out of state. I'm willing to drive you away from here if you want to leave before winter sets in. No strings attached, I expect nothing in return, I only want to help. Is that something you might be interested in?"

Fear and trepidation flooded her face, her breathing increased and her body shook. I continued, "You can ride with me as far as you'd like. Any time you want to leave I'm not going to try and stop you. Do you think that's something you want to do to get away from here?"

Her stare was intense, her face blank and devoid of emotion. I was just about to turn and go when she said "wait", then nodded yes. I was like her in a sense, wanting to be as far away from the east coast as possible. I had no family to speak of and looking for a new start, new adventures, a new beginning you might say.

"You want to leave town with me tomorrow? Is that what you're saying?" She nodded emphatically.

"Okay, I'll meet you at McDonalds, 8 o'clock tomorrow morning. Do you have more belongings than what you're wearing and in your backpack?" She shook her head no.

"I have to pick up my pay check first thing, we can leave right away, we'll stop for breakfast once we're out of town. Is that okay with you?"

She nodded yes and for the first time she seemed to relax. I smiled and bowed my head toward her as I left. I was waiting on pins and needles in the morning, I had turned in my keys at the apartment and was ready to drive away.

At Mickie D's, I said my goodbye's, collected my paycheck and sipped a cup of coffee while I waited. It was nearly 8 and I was beginning to worry, I didn't see her until she came through the door, I ordered another large black to go and headed for the truck. As we were climbing in, she had a look of fear on her face and kept looking back.

Once we were several miles down the road I noticed her relax a little. She put her hood down and opened the sweatshirt slightly, I figured she was getting too warm with so many layers of clothing. An hour into our trip we stopped for breakfast.

"We're going to be heading into warmer weather, you might want to dress lighter. I'll wait by the ladies room door if you want, if it will make you feel safer."

She thanked me as we headed into the restaurant where we received several stares. Mostly at her appearance.

"Never mind those people, you go ahead into the bathroom and get cleaned up, I'll be right here by the door."

When she exited the bathroom she looked cleaner, but still smelled of homeless person. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she'd shed three layers of clothes. She had on a thread bare sweatshirt, ragged dirty jeans, no socks and some sneaks falling apart. I told her to order what she wanted, not what she thought I would want her to eat.

As I paid for her lumberjack breakfast and my pancakes, she was looking in the pastry case, then pointed at a package of four cookies, which I gladly purchased. I ordered more coffee to go, we shared the cookies in the truck, I ate one, she ate the other three. She fell asleep almost immediately after consuming the cookies not waking until I stopped for fuel a few hours later.

"We're almost to Ohio. If you need to use the potty toss your pack in the backseat. I'll wait for you inside by the ladies room door after I fuel up."

Walking through the door into the convenience center I could hear an older woman yelling something about no trash allowed. I knew what it was and headed for the bathrooms, I stepped in front of the older woman and asked what the problem was.

"We don't want that trash using our bathrooms. She needs to go."

I asked my mystery gal if she'd used the bathroom yet. She shook her head no.

"Lady, she's with me and she WILL use this bathroom."

I pushed the door open and yelled "man in the room", no one exited so I stood in the doorway and told her to do her business. Five minutes later she was washing her hands and then stood behind me, I reached behind, took her hand and led her out to the truck. When we got near the truck I let go of her hand as she went to the door and waited for me to unlock it. When we pulled into the gas station I had noticed a Kohls sign a quarter mile ahead.

Entering the store we walked to women's underwear. I picked up a package of three and pointed, size 6? Shaking her head, she quietly said 4. I picked out a package of size 4 and she nodded yes. I showed her a package of bikini and boy shorts, she pointed at the boy shorts. I tossed two packages of three into the cart, by the time we walked to the bra section, she had figured out what was going on and picked out two simple bras, 34B, then a package of 6 socks.

Finding the jean section, she grabbed two pair, 26 waist, 30 inseam along with two cotton blouses, medium. With a pair of inexpensive sneakers, we were ready to check out. The young check out gal had enough metal in her ears and on her face I would have sworn she'd fallen into a tackle box. She looked at my mystery gal and said to me, "Be kind to her, I've been where she's at."

In the truck I explained what my plan was.

"When we stop for the night you can shower, wash your hair, put on clean clothes and throw the old away if you want. I'll get a room with two beds, I have an oversized t-shirt you can sleep in. The shampoo I have isn't feminine smelling, but it will clean your hair."

We only stopped for fuel and potty breaks the rest of the day, grabbing fast food for lunch. I drove until about 7, had it been just me I'd have pushed until at least ten.

"Listen, I'm tired, you're tired, I thought it would be best if we stop early enough for you to get cleaned up and changed. We can go for a decent meal before we turn in."

It was obvious she was processing my words, then said okay. I was beginning to wonder why she so seldom spoke. I grabbed a double queen at a Super 8, gave her a key card and went to bring in the bags. I asked if she wanted her backpack as well, she shook her head no. I was sitting in the chair watching the news when a half hour later an entirely different creature walked out of the bathroom. A shower, and clean clothes made a world of difference. Her previously dark brown hair was actually light brown, pulled back into a ponytail again. Her face seemed to glow without the grime, her legs were long, her torso slender, breasts to match her body and a tiny waist. When I smiled, she looked at me with a blank expression.

"I know you can talk, so you must be choosing not to, and that's okay, but if you need something you have to tell me."

"I need tampons."

Wal-Mart was next to the Longhorn Steakhouse so I ran in and picked up a box of tampons, her thanking me as I gave them to her. I was wondering if this was going to the case the next three days. It had been a long lonely day even with someone next to me, if she isn't talking tomorrow I'm playing the radio.

She disappeared into the ladys room at Longhorn as soon as I gave them my name. After being shown our table I waited for her by the door and escorted her to our booth. I told her to order what she wanted, as we ate in silence, I sensed sleep would come quickly tonight. In the room I gave her the oversized shirt, she changed in the bathroom and quickly disappeared under the covers. I wondered how long it had been since she'd slept in a bed, a warm dry bed.

Getting ready for bed I slipped on a pair of shorts and headed for the bed. I normally sleep in my skivvies, but she was already traumatized, no need to frighten her by being in just my underwear. As I turned out the light I whispered, "I don't even know your name pretty lady, but I hope tomorrow is better for you."

As I was pulling the covers up I heard a very soft, "thank you, it's Judy."

"Why didn't you tell your name sooner?"

"You never asked."

That was the end of our conversation, I heard slow rhythmic breathing and knew she was out for the night. I woke about 5, used the bathroom and when I came out she was dressed, sitting on the end of the bed.

"It's all yours. I forgot to get you a toothbrush, you can use mine if you want."

Still no words. There was an IHOP next door, after tossing our gear in the truck I checked out and we walked to the restaurant.

"I think we should have a big meal for breakfast, then we'll grab fast food for lunch like yesterday. Sound okay to you Judy?"

A very soft, "Yes." Holy shit, another response, at this rate we might reach ten words by nightfall.

It was another hefty meal for her, one last potty break and back to the truck. At the first fuel stop she was looking at the bananas as if she hadn't had one in ages. I told her to get some if she wanted, her eyebrow cocked as if to say really?

"Sure, go ahead, get a toothbrush while we're here, if there's anything else you want grab it."

We got a coffee, I paid for the stuff she had and hit the road. Traffic was moving right along and we made good time stopping in Nebraska for the night. It had been another talkless day, at least I'd found a couple of oldies and classic rock stations for my listening pleasure. We chose the Pizza Ranch buffet for supper and hit it at the most opportune time, fresh pizzas were being brought out along with a new batch of broasted chicken.

With our tummy's full we journeyed back to the motel, tonight not being as awkward as last night had been. She went first in the shower like last night and was under the covers when I left the bathroom following my shower. I turned out the lights and said, "Goodnight Judy."

"Good night." At least I got a good night, this was progress.

We checked out around 7 and made our way down the street to a mom and pop diner for breakfast. The food was excellent, I especially liked the homemade hash browns. Judy had three pancakes, two eggs and a small fruit bowl. Maybe her stomach was realizing she's be getting food on a regular basis again. At the table we had a pseudo conversation.

"Judy, I need you to do more than nod or shake your head to the things I'm going to say. We're in Nebraska, far from anyone who might be trying to find you. I can drop you here with some money, or you can go with me to Los Alamos, New Mexico. If you continue on with me I'll see to it that you're safe, we'll arrive there Sunday late afternoon. I need you to tell me what you want to do."

It was silent as she put jelly on her toast. "Stay with you." She said softly without looking up.

Finally, an almost sentence. "Judy, my name is Leroy, most folks call me Roy. Feel free to talk to me if you want to. I'm a good listener."

Going west on 80 I missed the turn off for 76 and ended up catching 25 south at Cheyenne. We were only a little behind schedule, we might make it to Santa Fe by nightfall. Traveling through Denver on the interstate seemed to frighten her, as soon as we were beyond Denver she was relaxed again.

Just north of Pueblo we stopped for fuel. After the gas station incident the first day she stayed with me at the truck until I went in with her. I waited outside the door for her each time, and she stood outside the men's waiting for me. As I walked out of the bathroom I saw and heard two cowboy looking fella's hitting on her, she was almost in tears when I stepped between she and the boys. She immediately grabbed my arm and clung for dear life. I told them she was with me and they could move on, which they did.

Letting her know I intended to push through to Santa Fe, she should pick out some snacks for us and we'd grab fast food the rest of the day. She cautiously went about grabbing some chips, fruit, cold drinks and some candy bars. I got the feeling she hadn't had a chocolate bar in some time, then I remembered it was her chocolate bar time of the month. We arrived in Santa Fe just after 9. I found a Comfort Inn with two queens, booked it and asked her if she wanted to eat, or just go to sleep. We would have all of tomorrow to catch up on sleep if need be.

She stood there staring at me. "Judy, you need to tell me what you'd like to do. I want to help you, but I can't do a very good job if you won't speak to me."

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byR410a© 19 comments/ 16150 views/ 53 favorites

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