Here, I bought you some water. Drink up, R. says. What a guy. Not one of my other drivers has even offered me a drink. Luckily, I brought my own after the first day of being without for two hours. I did have gum, which is the only thing that made it tolerable. Not running is thirsty work.
We’re getting along great. My pet peeves are his pet peeves. It’s Smart Water he says—even better for you than just plain water. Yes, I say. Thank you. It tastes great. Out here in the country the drive ways are more than long, they’re distant. He drops me off at one, drives to the next and then turns around for me. Don’t worry he says, I’ll always come back. It really had not occurred to me that he wouldn’t. Something makes me feel grateful that I texted my location or at least my last location to my friends before I hopped in the truck. Beware of dogs! He shouts as he rolls away.
It’s kinda creepy navigating through the overgrown bush of the wild places in peoples’ front yards out here. It’s also almost exactly how I would choose to leave my land if I had some. Lush, native with little to no “improvement”. I feel an uneasy comfort approaching the fenced in exotics many locals keep as pets or game. Zebras, Oryx (a sort of long-horned antelope), llamas, ostrich and the spiral horned goat-looking thing that rammed our car at the drive-through zoo a couple years ago. Texas: It really is like a whole ‘nuther country.
R. does return and compliments me on my graceful three-point entrance with a caveat. Can you speed it up a little? Sure, thing! I say, wondering if my other drivers felt the same way. Please do let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you out or improve what I’m already doing, I add. Oh, I’m pretty outspoken, says R. yet somehow I don’t really believe him. He startles when I laugh and rarely makes eye-contact even when he is not driving.
I’m thinking we’ve already had some pretty deep conversations when somehow, we get on the topic of religion. R. wants me to know that he is a repressed Catholic boy. His words. I begin to wonder where this is going when he asks how come I’m not drinking my water. I really should be. It’s a tall bottle – maybe 32 oz. and I’ve only made a dent in it around 1/8 of the way down. Oh, right, I say and grab the bottle instinctively, already falling into my normal pattern of obedience and control in the presence of a tractable male. It’s comfortable here. In fact, I feel so comfortable and safe that even as the lip of the bottle touches my lips I can’t recall if the lid snapped when I turned it off the first time. The text of a little yellow sticker flashes through my mind—Do not consume if safety seal has been broken.
Did it snap or didn’t it? I can’t remember! I’m starting to feel sleepy just thinking about it. Is that his plan? I wonder how many of us have gone before? But he’s a delivery guy, they do background checks! How would he maintain a career and a normal life? They always do. And they’re the nice ones too. The ones who get along just fine with everyone. The quiet ones. He was a great neighbor—never a bother. What a tragedy. Who’d have guessed? All these years he’s been luring seasonal driver helpers out into the country, drugging them into the back of his truck and driving them home like a COD who didn’t answer the door. You never know what’s going to be inside, but it’s got to be good.
Holy crap! I’m driving around in the middle of nowhere, TX with a serial killer! Suddenly, time slows down to a crawl. I feel very, very calm. All I have to do is stay awake. He’s not aggressive, at least not yet. He probably won’t attack unless I’m unconscious. Okay. So, no more water. But, how do I maintain the façade that I am drinking it and Jesus, God I am SO very thirsty all the sudden. I have mine own water in my bag in the back but how would that look? I take little sips and hold it in my mouth for a while hoping something in my saliva counteracts the sedative before I swallow. Thrity-six more stops before break-time he announces me out of my thoughts. I don’t’ know about you, but I have to take a potty break! Oh wow, okay maybe he is human after all. The other two never even mentioned it.
Of course he’s human. That doesn’t mean he’s not a serial killer. They hire these seasonal helpers en masse. One or two could easily go missing. They’re just the type no one would miss either because they’re the ones who are always doing something just a little out of the norm. If he starts to ask me about my family connections, I’ll know he’s researching. The problem with that is even though I love my family dearly and they love me right back they would absolutely not question my absence for at least two days before beginning to inquire. By then, I could be buried in this guy’s backyard.
At least he’s nice. I mean, if you’re going to be heinously murdered I suspect the experience could be made as pleasant as possible by a caring killer. He seems genuinely interested in my “real” job. Raised his voice for the first time all day when he exclaimed, how COOL it must be to do the thing I do. To get into the minds of my clients and give them exactly what they want, even when they don’t know what that thing might be. Well, at least that’s the goal, I respond quietly almost modestly; secretly thinking wow, this guy really gets it. I’m probably glowing in the dark. I’m definitely smiling as we pass by the bank of mailboxes in one of those incredibly weird sub-divisions where all the houses are packed tightly next to one another for a few miles surrounded by vacant land again, and again, and yes. We ARE driving in circles.