The jacket, now fastened to the backpack, covered all the smiley face except the frowning mouth. The RV zipped by just as she reached the end of the on ramp and turned to face the oncoming traffic. Without thinking, Sam hit the brakes and worked the rig to the shoulder in a cloud of rubber dust and smoke. At the last moment, he remembered the boat trailer and lifted his foot. The Winnebago stopped sixty yards down the freeway from Terri.
His first concern was the boat and trailer. When he was satisfied that neither was damaged, he looked her way and saw she hadn’t moved. He spread his hands in a questioning, palms-up gesture and waited. She cast nervous glances about before moving slowly toward him. Suspicion filled her eyes. Her demeanor made him uneasy.
“You do remember me, don’t you?” he asked.
“Yeah, I ‘member you, Mistuh Henson. You okay?”
“Still shaky, but all right.” He leaned a stiff arm on the boat.
“I’s scared. Thought you was gonna die fasho, so I was ghost.”
“What are you doing out here?” A wave of his head raked the sky. “Thought you were going to St. Louis.”
“Went to St. Lou … didn’t stay.”
“What happened, your husband not want you?”
“Ain’t got no husband.” Her eyes dared him. “Stopped to see my momma.”
“Your dying mother? I thought that was your road story.” Sam grinned, “Do you ever tell the truth?”
She looked at him through dark lashes, and a tiny smile curved the corners of her mouth. “Not when I think a lie will work better.”
“Tell me gal, do you even have a mother?”
“Really? Hell, gal, I can’t even believe that.” He straightened and stepped toward her and she tensed. Her conduct puzzled him. “You all right?”
“Didn’t run into trouble in St. Louis?”
There was a barely perceptible flicker of eye movement before she answered. “I run into trouble no matter where I go.”
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