The Drifter Ch. 08


Three hours later, after driving past huge groves of orange trees, we arrived in Santa Monica and saw a large pier with the sign “Route Sixty-six ends here.” I had made it. A warm sense of triumphant came over me for driving the entire historic route from Chicago. I wanted to walk on the boardwalk and enjoy the liveliness, but was afraid Carla and I would be recognized.

It’s not easy to find a parking place with a trailer, but we found one near the beach where a few other trailers parked. We sat in the truck and looked out at the Pacific and watched the waves, smelled the salt air and listened to the sound of the surf. The beach was lined with palm trees and hundreds of sail boats and large yachts sparkled on the slate gray water.

It was a warm, sunny day and the beach was crowded. People walked by our trailer in bathing suits and light clothing. Everyone seemed tan. Some ate ice cream cones or carried beach umbrellas. Many were riding bicycles, skate boards or went by on roller skates. It seemed festive especially after a week on the Mojave desert.

I had to get out and stretch and took the chance I wouldn’t be noticed. Carla and I walked over to a bench on the edge of the boardwalk and looked out at the ocean. Just as I took a deep breath of salt air, I glanced down at a trash can and saw a folded up newspaper. I picked it up and saw the headline—Five State Manhunt for Kidnapper Continues.

“Fuck!” I showed it to Carla.

“I’m sorry. This is horrible.”

“Carla, you have to call your mom and tell her you weren’t kidnapped. This has to be over. I had no idea this would happen when I agreed to take you with me.”

“Are you sorry?”

“I don’t know what I’m feeling. I’m not a kidnapper. I understand you’re afraid to talk to your mother, but unless you do, we will be hiding and and running, I don’t want to live like this.”

Carla walked away from me, but I could see by her tense shoulders and the way she moved she was upset. I glanced back at the newspaper then looked out at the ocean and crowded beach. I was angry, but wondered if I was angry at her, or at myself for being in this situation, for not insisting that Carla call her mom and clear things us. I cursed my own stupidity. I did this to myself. What’s wrong with me?

While I was standing there, a police car drove by. I didn’t want them to see me so I faced the ocean, but I also didn’t want them to recognize Carla. Her picture was in all of the papers and on television and I knew the police had seen bulletins. I glanced over at her and knew she didn’t see the police.

I heard the police car stop and a door slam. I didn’t want to turn around so I lifted the newspaper to hide my face and pretended I was reading. Carla was standing about ten feet from me when I saw the police walk up to her. I didn’t know what to do. I knew if I went back to the trailer and they realized they had found Carla, they would find me. If I walked away, I could hide in the crowd, duck into a bar or coffee shop. When the police started talking to her, she glanced at me then quickly started speaking. I had no idea what she was saying. Perhaps she was lying and saying she’s not the person, but then I realized this is nuts. I’m not a kidnapper. If Carla wasn’t going to face reality and call her mother, I was going to end this and tell the truth.

I walked over to Carla, took her hand and faced the two policemen. I lifted Carla’s hand to them and felt her gripping mine. We looked at each other before I spoke.

“She wasn’t kidnapped. She’s running away and came willingly. This is all a huge mistake.”

“What Escort Çankaya are you talking about?” The taller policeman stared at me, bewildered.

“He’s right. He didn’t kidnap me. I asked him to take me with him. My mom got it all wrong. This is a huge mistake. I wasn’t kidnapped.”

The taller policeman glanced at me and then at Carla.”Why didn’t you call her and tell her you weren’t kidnapped. The report said someone called and said you were taken against your will.”

“That was Dustin. I left my truck there. He’s not a nice man. He must have told my grandfather what he saw and then my mom called the police. I asked Josh to take me with him. I wasn’t kidnapped.”

They were both quiet and looked at us then at each other. I noticed the small policeman had a scar next to his mouth. He took a deep

breath. “Are you sure you weren’t brainwashed by him—that happens.”

“I’m not brainwashed. This is not his fault. I asked him to take me. Please believe me. He’s not a kidnapper.”

“If I was a kidnapper, do you think I’d come over to you? I’m trying to end this nightmare.”

I saw the taller policeman narrow his eyes and step towards me. “Listen, I can’t let you go. She could be brainwashed.”

The other policeman grabbed my arm. “Come with us. We’re taking you in.”

I let go of Carla’s hand and tried shaking his arm loose, but he suddenly grabbed my other arm, turned me around and snapped handcuffs on my wrists and told me my rights.

“Hey!This is a mistake.”

“Let him go,” Carla shouted.

“God damn it Carla, call your mom, now.”

“Let him go. He didn’t kidnap me.”

Suddenly, while I was being shoved into the police car, a crowd gathered around us.

“That’s the kidnapper,” someone shouted.

“No, he’s not,” Carla shouted back.

“Call your mom,” I yelled as I was being pushed into the backseat of the car.

“Come with us, Miss,” the other policeman said after speaking into the small phone on his shoulder.

“Bastard!” someone yelled at me.

“Pervert!” another voice shouted.

Another police car pulled up and Carla was put into the backseat.

“He’s not a kidnapper,” Carla yelled at the crowd. “He didn’t kidnap me.”

When we drove away, I looked at the trailer and realized it was open and that my tools were in the back of my truck. I glanced back and saw Carla sitting in the back of the other car. She looked frightened, but so was I. I had never been arrested before.

When we arrived at police headquarters, I was led into a small room with a table in the center. I was still handcuffed and angry. A few minutes later, Carla came in. I saw her eyes were red. When she came over to me and put her arms around me, I stiffened and felt the handcuffs pulling at my wrists.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t want this to happen.”

She hugged me and I could feel her anguish, but I also wanted the handcuffs off of me and to be released.

“Carla, you have to call your mom. This should not have happened. You have to talk to her and tell her the truth.”

“You’re right. I know I should have talked to her before. I was afraid.”

“Well, stop being afraid, goddamn it!”

The two policemen were standing by the table, listening when the door opened and a tall, chubby, bald headed man came in. He wore a white shirt with the collar opened and a loose tie. I noticed a badge on his belt and a small gun on his hip. He had a folder which he threw on the table. He looked like a character from an old TV show.

“I’m Sargent Marshall. Now, tell me what Çankaya Escort the hell’s going on here? He sat down and looked up at Carla with her arms around me.

“He didn’t kidnap me. This is all my fault. I can explain.” Carla took a deep breath.

“I hope so. The police in five states have been looking for you.”

One of the policemen took the handcuffs off and I took a deep breath.

“Thanks, man.” I rubbed my wrists and turned to the detective. “All I did was take her with me when she asked. She’s got problems at home. I didn’t fucking kidnap her.”

I was angry and just wanted to be on my way. I thought about Carla’s problems at home, but at the moment I didn’t care and suddenly wasn’t sure whether I wanted Carla to come with me or not. Her reluctance to confront her mother created this mess. All I wanted was to be left alone without hassles and to get as far away as I could with or without her.

I turned to Carla. “I told you I was a loner.”

“I know you did.”

Carla reached for my hand which I pulled away. I was confused and couldn’t look at her. She was the reason I was in this mess. Why did I agree to to take her? Why the fuck was I so stupid when I just wanted to get on with my life? Why didn’t I just tell her to get over it and call her mom?

Even though she didn’t know Dustin would take my license number and give it to the police, or realize her running away would result in a massive manhunt, still, she hid her truck there and when her mom called, she could have said something, but didn’t. I tried to understand and accept her fear of confronting her mother, but in hindsight I was angry at myself for being so understanding. Why am I such an idiot?

She turned to the detective. “He didn’t kidnap me. This is my fault.”

“So you’re running away…is that what you’re doing?”

“Yes. It’s a long story, but yes. We just met at my grandfather’s ranch a little over a week ago and I saw my chance to get away. I had to get away. He’s helping me. This is all a big mistake.”

“That’s the truth. Now can I get out of here and be on my way?”

When I said that, I didn’t look at Carla. I couldn’t. I just wanted to be out of there and free. I had my own problems, I didn’t need hers.

I knew I left a wife in Maine. Her parents thought I was a bum and my parents wanted me to see a shrink. I was just as trapped in expectations as Carla. I was unhappy and lost. I needed space. I needed to be alone, but when she begged me to take her, why did I say yes? Was it lust or love that motivated me? I didn’t know. She was beautiful and sexy and needed me, so I said yes when I should have said no. Sometimes the line between lust and love is thin and one thing leads to another. Sometimes, the real reasons we do things are the ones we are least conscious of. Maybe we’re all selfish and self absorbed and pretend we’re not. Who knows? All I knew was I was angry and wanted to be out of there and knew she felt my coldness.

“I’m so sorry,” Carla said and took my hand.

I could hear the tremble in her voice and wanted to resist the anguish I heard. I was being torn apart.

“I’m so sorry,” she repeated.

Her words were like a dagger and I felt cruel not facing her.

“I love you.” She touched my arm, urging me to turn around, but I stiffened and didn’t budge. I felt myself hardening and becoming protective of my life and sinking back into my shell like a clam.

I glanced at the detective standing in front of me and then at the two policemen. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. This is Çankaya Escort Bayan like some movie.

“Can I go?”

“Not yet. We have to check and see if her mother will drop the charges.”

“Why? Carla already told you the story. She’s the so-called victim.”

“I’ll call my mom and tell her what’s happening and make her drop the charges.”

I turned to her and yelled. “I wish you had done that before. You could have saved us a lot of grief. This whole mess is nuts. Why the fuck didn’t you call her.”

I knew I was being brutal by suddenly attacking her and recognized my passive aggressive tendencies from other relationships that caused blowups.

Carla looked away, then took the cell phone out of her shirt pocket and made the call. She was crying and the tears on her cheeks broke my heart. I was surprised she would talk to her mother in front of the police and realized it didn’t matter. I was glad she was finally calling and hoped this would be the end of this mess, but I was also wondering if I should end this relationship, put her on a bus and go back to being a loner. I was confused and angry. Who needs this? Why am I doing this?

I watched Carla hold the phone to her ear and close her eyes as if she was praying for strength. She gripped the phone, then opened her eyes when she heard her mother’s voice. She glanced at me as if wanting my approval and support, then took a deep swallow of air before speaking.

“Mom, it’s me…yes, it’s me, Carla. I’m in California at a police station. Calm down, Mom. I’m fine. I wasn’t kidnapped. I know I should have called, but I couldn’t. I’m really sorry.”

She nodded and listened then closed her eyes and I knew she was being lectured.

“Mom you have to listen to me. I’m not coming home. I can’t. You have to drop the charges. I’ll let you speak to the detective here.”

Carla glanced at me then turned away. “Please, mom, for once in my life will you listen to me. How can I make you understand…I have to do this and you have to talk to the detective and drop the charges and end this nightmare…I’m giving my phone to him, now tell him. Please!”

When she handed the phone to Detective Marshall, she took a deep breath and placed her hand on her heart. “That was so hard.”

“Carla, I’m glad you spoke to your mom, but I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying I think I made a mistake taking you with me.”

She was stunned and I knew I took the breath out of her.

“But we’re free now. The charges will be dropped. We can go to Bolinas.”

Detective Marshall handed Carla the phone. “Okay, you two are free to go. I’ll get the word out that the charges have been dropped, but your troubles aren’t over.”

“Why? What do you mean?” I asked.

“I can drop the charges but this is a big story. You’re in all of the newspapers and on television. Everyone’s going to want to know about you two.”

When he said that, I turned to Carla, “I’m out of here. I don’t want this.”

“Wait. Please, I want to go with you.”

“I want to be alone. That’s why I left. I feel trapped. I don’t want to be a big story.”

“You can’t just leave me here.”

I didn’t respond and realized I needed a ride back to my truck and trailer.

“Can I get a lift back to my truck so I can get going.”

“Follow me,” the smaller policeman said. “We’ll take you back.”

“Thanks,” I said and started towards the door.

“Are you coming, Miss?” The taller policeman asked.

“I don’t know,” she answered then looked at me. “Am I?”

Her question broke my heart. I looked at her standing in front of the table. I wasn’t sure what to say, but knew I couldn’t leave her stranded at the police station and she had her stuff in the trailer.

“Yes, come on Carla then we’ll figure out what’s next.”

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