ONE CUP FOR THE ROAD
By Joyce Laird
The streetlights illuminated the midnight sky making a soft glow that melded into black. The sky held only a sliver of moon and a few
stars daring to peek out randomly as a cloud cover shifted aimlessly over
them. I cursed to myself as I walked swiftly down the main boulevard of this hayseed town. My new shoes were not what I'd choose
for long distance hiking. I didn't have a cent for a cab or bus - if I could find one. Kyle had my purse in his car. Kyle had everything in
his car. God only knows where Kyle was now. What pond scum he had turned out to be!

Few cars were on the street; workers heading to a 3rd shift at the plant on the edge of town, or coming home from the second shift.
Even teen cruisers had been hustled home by the local cops. Only one or two gas station/convenience stores were open in the whole
damned town.

"Trust me," I muttered to myself as I crossed the wide boulevard. "Robin, you are such a jerk. From now on, just go it alone!" I pulled
one shoe off and gingerly touched my heel. A large blister was beginning
to appear.

The cheap motel room we'd rented was on the other side of the industrial area. If I could get there, I was sure I could cajole that horny
night clerk to let me make a call to my cousin Joe. He'd pick me up and then deal with Kyle for me. I knew Kyle wouldn't be at the
motel. Not after what he pulled on me tonight. He knew what I'd do.

I started toward the distant light of what I hoped was either an all night gas station on the far end of the industrial area. I kicked off my
shoes and carried them. Better to ruin a pair of stockings than be crippled for life. Through my anger, I noticed that a car seemed to
be keeping pace with me, a few yards behind. I quickened my steps and turned a corner. The car headlights followed me. As it drew
closer, I saw it contained three teenage boys.

Great! Just what I need.

The lighted oasis was still far in the distance. The few stores in the area were dark and closed up tight. This wasn't a residential area so
there were no doorways to run to for help.

The car pulled into a driveway that led to an alley, blocking my path. One boy leaned out of the window on the passenger side of the
car. "Hey, hot stuff, want a lift?"

"Yea, Babe! We got what you need right here," a boy in the back seat called. All were laughing. All three were stinking drunk or high or
both.

I tried to walk around the back of the car - they backed up. I tried the front - it went forward and held me in its high beams, blinding
me. One boy started to get out of the car. Suddenly, another vehicle turned the corner and honked. The boy swore under his breath,
jumped back into the car. The driver hit reverse, then drove away with tires squealing.

I tried to flag down the car that had honked, but had to jump out of the way as it turned into the alley in front of me and disappeared
quickly into the dark.

"Thanks, A LOT.. JERK!" I called after the car.

I took a bearing on where I was. I still only saw the dark, flat closed up industrial buildings spread out before me, with the one lighted
area on the far end of the horizon. So I continued toward that distant light, hoping it meant that someone was actually working late and
not just for security.

After a few yards, I had the feeling that someone was still following me. I turned and looked behind me. Only a pitch-black tunnel of
the street greeted me. Nothing was moving. I couldn't make out any vehicle
shape and the only lights were those of the far distant boulevard. I started walking again and heard the soft crunch of tires turning on
the blacktop; not right on my tail, but somewhere behind me.

Without stopping, I yelled back over my shoulder, "Get out of here you punks! I've got a cell and I'm calling the cops."

I picked up my pace to a steady jog. The sound of the tires still slowly ground on behind me. The car was pacing me, keeping back in
the darkness at a distance where I could not see it. Panic began to rise in my
throat, almost choking off my breath. I broke into a run. The car accelerate behind me. Tears began running down my cheeks. The
lighted oasis ahead did not seem closer. I would never make it. My heart was pounding so hard it hammered in my ears. My breath was
raw and ragged.

Then, I saw it. Another light in the front office of a closed machine shop set far back from the street. A shadow was moving across a
shaded window that was latticed with iron security bars. It was only a few
hundred yards ahead. I gathered all my strength for a full-on dash.

I made it to the building. I slipped my fists through the window iron grates and pounded against the glass with all the strength I had left.
"Help! HELP!"

An elderly man spread the blinds and peeked out. He motioned me to the front door, and within a moment I was inside.

"Oh, thank you! Thank you!" I cried as I fell into one of the chairs in the small waiting room.

"What's up little lady? What're are you doing out here in the middle of the night?"

I poured out my story; how the date I was with had dumped me when I refused his advances and had to walk back to the motel. Then
I'd been accosted by a bunch of drunken teenagers who'd tried to grab me and now some psycho was chasing me.

"Lucky for you I was finishing up the books for a morning audit," the man said. "I'll call the police."

"No. that's okay," I stammered breathlessly. "If you could just let me call my cousin. He'll come and get me. He's only about twenty
minutes away- if you could let me wait here, I'd really appreciate it."
Before the man could answer, headlights lit up the front window. Three cars had pulled into the lot; two police cars and a black sedan.
One set of officers went to the sedan, the other set came to the office door. The man opened the door.

"We got a call about a woman in trouble?" one officer said. He looked past the man to me. "That you, miss?" the officer asked.

"Poor kid had a rough night," the man from the machine shop said. He motioned for the officers to come in and basically repeated
what I'd told him. "Now nut's chasing her in a car," he concluded. "Lucky for her I was working late or who knows what might have
happened to her." Then scratching his head, he added, "Say, who called you?"

"Will you come with us, Miss?" One officer said as the other held the door open.

We walked up to a parked car where the first two officers were talking to the driver; a weathered, plump woman, with short, gray hair.

"That's her," the woman said. "I was coming home from my shift and was going to the 24/7 mini-mart for my nightly cup of coffee
for the road. I was just about to pull in when I saw it - right through those big plate glass windows. A tall, skinny guy and this girl were
behind the counter with the clerk. I heard a bang and the clerk fell down. The guy ran out with a bag, jumped into an old beat up car
out front and drove off like the devil himself was on his tail. I didn't see the license. I guess that's not much help, is it?"

"You're doing fine Mrs. Watson," the officer said. Just calm down and tell us the rest."

"I called 911 immediately on my cell. I wanted to get help for the clerk right away. I didn't want to confront her, but, I didn't want to
let her get away either. so when she took off on foot, I called back and gave an officer my GPS information. Then, I followed her with
my headlights off .from a safe distance, of course. I didn't know what else to do. "

"Fast thinking," the officer said.

"I almost choked when I saw those kids stop her. What if she still had the gun? I honked at them and scared them off, then I circled
down the alley and around the block to get back on her tail."

One of the officers recited the Miranda rote to me while another threw on the cuffs. I glared at the old broad. Talk about balls! She
glared right back.

"Ow. Don't push me. My feet are sore as Hell," I yelled as the cop stepped between us and pushed me toward the squad car.

"Honey, sore feet are the least of your problems now," the officer said.