Ten Miles to Hop

500 Word Noir Project

Suggestions: Desert Highway, Twins, Film Camera

Word Count: 598 and no more

Ten Miles to Hop

The girl in the filling station is beautiful, and she’s happy to see me.

“You left your wallet, mister!”

“Not him, Rosita,” another voice, a woman, “He’s thinner.”

I palm the wallet, “Following my brother. He drives like it’s the Indy 500. Didn’t say which way he was headed, did he?”

The older woman, “He wanted a shortcut through a village called Coyote.”

I spin a rack of atlases.

“Not on those maps,” The woman says, “I’ll show you. I may as well take the pies early, for the Coyote church supper.”

She lifts a large leather bag. It seems like an odd choice for carrying pies, but what do I know? She seems like a strange piece of luggage herself. Without an invitation, she loads herself into my Bel Air.

 

“Five miles to the turnoff,” She shouts.

The woman sports sunglasses and a kerchief. She wears gloves. No makeup. Housedress. Severe mouth. Still, she has an hourglass figure. 

Under her getup, she might be Rosita’s age.

“How’d a sweet sixteen like you end up in a place like this?”

“I already got a date to prom, mister,” She deadpans.

She doesn’t look at me, just stares ahead, clutching the valise. I don’t see the bump of a wedding ring under her gloves. 

On second glance, she must be pushing thirty five.

On third glance, she pulls a big, square bottle of tequila out of her bag, and doesn’t offer to share.

 

My brother’s Bel Air has pulled off in front of an adobe ruin. The sonofabitch is just sitting there with his hat on. Something’s not right.

I stop the car a short distance away.

The woman observes,“Not happy to see him?”

I tell her, “Stay here.”

 I hop over the driver’s side door. Baked dirt crunches underfoot.

 

My brother is facing straight ahead and whimpering. 

“Don’t shoot me, I’ve got kids!” He wails, as I approach him from the side.

“Since when, Horace?” I ask, rolling up my sleeves “You got heatstroke? And since when does a gun do my dirty work?”

The woman steps out from behind the adobe ruin, a Colt in her gloved hands.

How did she get over there?

Something shatters over my head. 

I’m out.

 

Glass crunches between my neck and collar. 

“A lousy $50 between ‘em.”

“Coming out of Vegas? That’s just embarrassing.”

 “Joker said he was running for mayor of some Mojave podunk-”

“Both are. Brother versus brother.”

“Corny.”

“At least Rosita forked over the cash drawer. We’ll make it to Mexico.”

Tequila reek pierces my brain. Sideways double visions of the woman from the filling station are rifling through two suitcases.

 I’m lying in the smashed remains of the heavy, square tequila bottle in the dirt next to Horace’s convertible. Horace’s still sitting in the front seat. Rope binds me.

I yell, “Help!”

“I’m tied up too, dummy,” He sighs.

“Want a camera?” one of the women plucks the Kodak from Horace’s suitcase. The one Horace used when he followed me to Vegas and took compromising photos. She rips the film out. 

There are two women. In the same housedress, kerchief, sunglasses and gloves. Same severe mouth. Same hourglass figure.

“Better get started,” One sister tells us,“You’ve got ten miles to hop.” 

The other sister opens the Bel Air door. She shoves and kicks trussed-up Horace out. Her twin claims my convertible. They take off, leaving us writhing in the dirt with our spilled suitcases and ribbons of film, the images and their importance fading fast.

“Didn’t think to ask their names,” Horace sighs.

“Shut up.”

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