Terri from Tonopah: The AlternativebyBogartsBoss©
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Terri from Tonopah, the alternative story
I met her in the McDonalds at Tonopah. She was trying to catch a ride north, but everyone she asked turned her down. Perhaps her looking disheveled had something to do with it, but most likely it's simply because we just don't help each other the way I remember us doing years ago.
She was wearing dirty looking jeans and a jacket that had seen better days, her boots looked pretty tired, and the floppy hat did nothing for her but provide shade. She was carrying a back pack with a bedroll tied on.
I guessed her to be in her mid-twenties; maybe 5-4, light weight; possibly 100 pounds. Her hair was light brown, medium length, needing a good wash. Her face was oval with hazel eyes, and a small nose and a medium sized mouth with well-defined lips.
When she approached me, she was trying to project confidence, yet there was an underlying aura of defeat. "Are you heading north? I could really use a ride as far as you can take me."
"How far are you going?"
"Well, I'd like to get up by Pasco, Washington, but I'll settle for anything that gets me farther north. How about Reno?"
"I might be able to help. What's your name?"
"Terri. Can you help? I'd really like to get off this desert." Desperation under laid her question.
"My name is Mike. Have you had anything to eat lately?"
She sighed and with a half-smile admitted to nothing since yesterday morning.
"Well, I'm about to head out. Let's get you something and we'll hit the road."
"This isn't going to cost me is it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I...I won't put out for a ride, I'd rather walk out of here."
"Not to worry, all I ask in exchange for the ride is pleasant company."
I bought her a large burger, fries, and a milkshake and while she waited for it I made a call. We strolled out to my van and when I popped the side door open, she was confronted with Hoover, my Keeshond mix. He looked at her, then me. When I gave him a nod, he leaned forward, gave her the sniff test and then sat back.
While I gave the dog the patties I'd gotten him, she put her stuff in the back. I'm sure she eyed the bed that was made up back there, but she didn't comment on it. She jumped into the passenger seat, buckled up, and was eating before we hit the highway. Her eating wasn't pretty, but it was effective; she'd pretty much finished the solid stuff before we hit the northern edge of town. Then she settled back with the milk shake, obviously relishing it.
She was quiet the first ten miles or so, but soon asked me where I had been, where I was going. "I've been visiting friends down in Chandler the last few weeks, now I 'm headed back home. What brought you down here?"
"I was living with someone, and then it stopped working. Now I'm just trying to go home."
I sensed that was all she wanted to say on the subject, so I just let it go and concentrated on my driving for a while. Things were quiet for a few miles, until she looked back at Hoover and then asked about him. So we talked about dogs, then cats and other pets, then the desert and weather, and just about anything else. She was a smart gal, aware of the world and her surroundings. I had to wonder what sort of relationship she was running from. Most people don't go trekking across the desert on a whim.
As we approached Hawthorne I watched for the motel I'd been told about. Checking in, I asked for a back room, ground floor, so I could walk my dog. I drove around to the back, parking in front of the room. It wasn't the best I'd seen, but not a shit hole either.
"If you want, you can get a shower, then we'll get some food."
While she showered, I let the others in. They sat on the beds, waiting.
"Did you bring my money?"
"We need to see the merchandise first. I want to be sure it's our run away."
"Have you heard anything about the boy friend?"
"He's been spotted in the Phoenix/Mesa area, but that was ten days ago. If you find him, we'll double your fee for this one. But I think you'll earn it."
We heard the shower stop; so everyone was quiet. Hoover sat in a corner; he'd seen this play out several times so it didn't excite him.
She stepped out of the bathroom, turning to the mirror; she started to brush her hair when she saw the other four. Screaming, she dropped to the floor; trying to get away.
They waited a moment, and then moved in. Grabbing her kicking feet and flailing arms, they dragged her further into the room. Quickly a gag was slapped into her mouth and a blindfold over her eyes. Just before they disappeared she looked to me; "Why?" was in them.
She was hustled out to their van and I handed her backpack to one of them.
The leader stepped into the room long enough to hand me an envelope. "Call me when you get the other. His picture is in there with the money."
I started bounty hunting when my Private Investigation business went bust. Well actually when my wife divorced me (something about me liking boys), she cleaned me out. Left me with nothing but my clothes, my van, and my dog. I'm good at finding run-aways, but there isn't a lot of money in finding the usual bunch of kids that boogie. Most of the time the folks are just going through the motions, so you can imagine how little I really got.
I found there were a few communities in the West that didn't want their "volunteers' un-volunteering, and were willing to pay a good bounty
The first couple of cases I found kicked up a lot of fuss when I handed them over and it did bother me a bit, but hey, business is business. Besides, they deserved it; you can't just walk away from a community. They are depending on everyone doing their fair share.
Take this stupid bitch Terri, she was a slacker, just wanted to lie around doing dope. That's what Rory told me when I took the contract. I didn't really care. She deserved what ever happened, just because she didn't do her part in the camp.
Stupid Bitch, what's she doing trusting strangers? That's just dumb. Well, I don't care. I got my money. Fuck her n to the next one.
She'll be alright.