“You're serious?” She asked in a way that made clear that if he was serious, he better not be serious, because seriously that would be some messed up shit.
“I . . .” Maurice started, but immediately reconsidered and went with, “We, don't have any choice.”
“I would have let that cop haul you off for being an old pervert, if I'd known this was going to be your solution for the night,” the girl threatened, but tempered her words with a slight smile.
“Well, unfortunately for you you're only my daughter, not some high priced hooker, so tonight we are sleeping out under the stars.”
“Next to a freeway,” she added.
“Next to a freeway,” he agreed, because really there was no denying its existence.
“And there aren't any stars,” she further added in that way that teenage girls add things that are likely to be annoying to adults.
“Behind the clouds, there a stars. I'm almost positive.”
“Inside the clouds, there's rain. We're likely to see that before we see any stars.” There was seemingly no end to her ability to annoy this evening, but she started unpacking enough things—mostly clean sweatshirts, sleeping bags, a canister of pepper spray and a bunch of plastic bags in case she was right about the rain—to get them through the night.

Maybe tomorrow they'd find a bed. Hell, maybe even two. That would be something. Then a school. Kayla shook her head hard to clear such thoughts. Tomorrow they would stick their thumbs out for a ride to Washington, DC and the day would be a raging success if someone actually stopped. Anything beyond that was pointless thinking. She wasn't optimistic. The only thing worse than a homeless person asking for money, was a homeless person asking for a favor.


“What, babe?”

“You look like crap,” she admonished with a smile and just the slightest hint of seriousness to convey that while she loved him and recognized that they were is a bad situation where hygiene was a constant challenge, it was important that he get his act together sufficiently that someone with a decent heart and a bit of guilt might stop and pick them up off the side of the road or they were going to be walking the hundred miles from Richmond to Washington. There is no boundary to the complexity of the feminine teenage mind.

Maurice stroked his four-day growth of whiskers and wondered how much dust had accumulated in his hair. “I promise to clean-up in the morning. We'll stop by the Salvation Army for a quick outfit. I'll be plenty respectable for a homeless hitchhiker,” he replied missing all the subtlety of her message, but nailing the thesis.

Kayla placed her sleeping bag on the hard ground while kicking a lump of something better left unexplored down the hill toward the road.

“You sure that storm is staying south of here?” she asked.
“I told you what the weather guy said. Gonna hit those islands off of North Carolina just a little bit and then head back out to sea. No big deal. Might get a sprinkle up this way, but nothing more.” He laid his bag a short distance away trying to give her the impression of some privacy where none really existed. “They may be wrong half of the time, but they're pretty good with these big storms, you know. We'll be fine.”

Sadly, Maurice was mistaken, correct and mistaken. In fact, weather predictions as they pertain to rain the next day are about 82% accurate. Hurricane intensity and track within 48 hours is very good. Despite this, he and Kayla are not fine.

One might think that sleeping under several tons of concrete poured decades ago, rarely maintained, and driven on by over 10,000 cars a day would be anxiety-inducing, but what was keeping Kayla awake at 2:00am was a small, but determined drip of motor oil-infused water that was landing two feet from her head in a metronomic consistency that was quickly driving her insane. She tried wrapping the arms of a sweatshirt she was using as a pillow around her head to muffle the noise, but the clothe was no match for the steady drum beat of water molecule into growing puddle.


“What?” Maurice was instantly awake, all to aware of the many dangers facing them out in the open in a strange city.

“That rain you promised was not going to happen is slowing melting my brain by dripping next to my head. I'm going to move.” She started to sit up when her father's voice stopped her.

“Dam!” he called out.

“It's not that big a deal. I'll just move,” she replied. What did he think she was a total baby or something.

“No, honey. I think if you look around a little more closely you'll see that I am a dam and you are about to be swept away. So, maybe you could move a little more quickly and try to save a few of the things we call possessions.”

As sleep fell away, she saw that her father was in fact holding back a fairly significant wall of water that was building up against his sleeping bag and draining around each edge, reconnecting just beyond where she was laying. When she looked beyond the overpass to the freeway, she saw torrents of water pouring from the sky.

“Oh my God!” she cried staring at the deluge.

“Kayla, seriously! Move your ass!” A well-timed crack of thunder punctuated Maurice's plea. The screenplay almost writes itself.


Popular Posts