Hearts on Fire 8: Saving C.C.(2)

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

She gripped the steering wheel and took a deep breath. She glanced at the house, felt that twinge of guilt, and then wondered if she was making the right move. She’d been over it so many times. It was right, and she needed to go. So what that she’d really only traveled alone a handful of times. She could do this.

She put the car into drive and headed out of the development. Her hunk of junk sounded as if it was on its last leg. She would deal with it as far as it got her and then decide her next move. She felt desperate to be free and get away from the town and all the sadness. God, please help me. Direct me to where to go and help me to survive. I need to live. I need to find a special place that will put all this behind me. Please let me find it.

She headed toward the highway going south. She could do this. She could drive until something got her to stop. She’d know exactly when she got there. The circumstances would present themselves because she had faith.

* * * *

Kyle St. James stood by the opening in the garage bay at the shop listening to his brother Frank ramble off the supply order. Kyle held the iPad in his hand and added the items and then checked them off on the supplier’s site. He double-checked them and re-read them to Frank, who nodded.

They had been working together for the past several years after taking time off to focus on their own careers. Kyle stretched out his arm and rotated it, feeling only a slight ache in his shoulder but enough of a reminder of the bullet he’d taken four years ago. Being a cop in New York City had been his life. He loved it, missed it, and wished he hadn’t have gotten shot. But it could have been worse. He could be dead like his partner, Doland.

He swallowed hard and caught sight of Frank stretching and then yawning. His brother was a Marine, retired a few years back and now helping their fathers with the mechanic shop and gas station. It was a gold mine, right on the edge of town before the bridge that led in and out of Treasure Town. Everyone filled up there before they headed out, and all locals and visitors got their cars fixed there. As he looked around the place, it brought back memories of growing up in Treasure Town, of hanging out with his other brothers, Mercury and Jenks, and having a blast. Frank and Jenks were the adventurous ones. Always looking for that adrenaline rush, whether it be skydiving, cliff climbing, or other crazy shit. He could have lost having this time with them. He could have died, and coming back to town and gaining some normalcy back was slowing making him see things clearer. Frank was a hardass, tight-lipped Marine, filled with piss and vinegar, and it was like pulling teeth to get him to talk about the Corps and what had happened while he served. His tight-lipped ways led him to being somewhat anti-social. But Kyle was okay with that because they lived together and spent a lot of time together, and that guaranteed that their brotherly bond was building stronger and stronger.

“Are you going to the Station tonight? I heard that band your brother’s friends are in is playing,” Tyrone, one of the mechanics, asked him.

“Not sure. I might. I have to see if Mercury is going,” Kyle replied.

“How about you, Frank?” Tyrone called to Frank.

Frank shook his head and finished up working on the small Ford Focus. He closed the hood and looked at Tyrone.

“Tyrone, bring this across the way to the car wash and then park it out front. Kyle will call Mrs. Wheeler and let her know it’s ready. If she needs a ride here, pick her up, but I think she said her son was around and can drop her back off.”

“No problem.” Tyrone got into the car. Frank and Kyle moved out of the way.

“You sure you’re not interested in heading over to The Station tonight? It could be fun to hear the band,” Kyle said to Frank.

“Not interested.”

Kyle watched Frank go over to the toolboxes and start putting the things back he’d used. He was always so organized, unlike Mercury, who would leave shit around years ago when they worked in the shop together. It was amazing that their kid brother was a paramedic and that Jenks had become a firefighter.

Kyle walked into the office and then something caught his eye. He saw some smoke and heard horns honking.

“What the hell?”

* * * *

C.C. listened to the radio, driving for hours and heading past the numerous beach towns. The loud muffler, the sputter and jerks of the engine wouldn’t deter her from continuing down the highway. She was determined to be happy. She wanted to make it on her own, find a new life, a new sense of belonging.

She wiped her brow with her forearm and glanced at the dials on dashboard under the steering wheel. She saw the little arrow creeping toward the red zone. That wasn’t good. Her heart began to race as she glanced around her, wondering what she should do. Stay on the highway? Get off? The AC was broken, and the car was a piece of shit, but it was what she had for now, that and her money from her savings account. The windows were all down, and she was cruising along in the right lane, passing the first few exits for beach towns. The car jerked forward, and she heard a loud noise, and then her hunk of junk began to sputter and smoke.

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