80 In Iowa

The sun is a burning star; shining brightly in the sky amongst clouds and shades of blue. It rises in the east and sets in the west. And, in the summer time it doesn’t disappear till late in the evening. People watch the sun go down. They say it’s romantic, or, beautiful to see. This ball of fire that burns and burns forever; will it ever go out?

The two of them drove west on 80 going into Iowa. It was late in the evening. Soon it would be dark. They watched coons and opossums cross the road. Looked at billboards for gasoline and cheap fast food. They were just driving. Didn’t know where they were going. Just heading west with a full tank of gas and a carton of cigarettes. Their bellies filled with McNuggets, cheeseburgers, fries, and a large Coke they split. One would sip from the straw then the other would take a turn; they asked for a little ice.

And they both kept looking at the sun in silence as night rolled in; exposing the moon and shining stars. She didn’t know what he was running from. And, he didn’t tell her. He just told her to get in the car back in Chicago. Pointed a gun at her and said, Give me the keys, she did.

At first she trembled, shaking as she sat beside him. Scared of what his next move would be. The young man with grease in his hair and a goatee on his face looked through her purse. She had all he needed; cash, credit cards, pictures of her children. The woman, short and squatty, at first began to cry. She just looked out the passenger window at cars and semis passing them by. And, he sang along to songs on the radio with his gun pointed at her hips. He sang along to tunes by Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Jackson Brown, others. Sang real pretty too, she thought. And he wasn’t bad on the eyes. She could see his reflection in the window.

The darkness of an Iowa highway can play tricks on you, he told her as he took in a long drag from his Marlboro. It’s not like the sun. The sun exposes everything. Shows us for what we really are, he said. She nodded her head. I’m gonna let you out at this next exit. I got what I need.

She began to cry. Don’t let me go, she wailed. Please don’t. I got nothing to go home to. I have nothing.

Don’t you have any family?

Nope.

What about those pictures of kids?

Taken long ago.

You want me to keep driving with you in the car?

I don’t want you to stop.

Darkness plays tricks on you. Makes things out to be something they’re not. It stops us and makes us examine our lives. She longed to dream.

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