I rolled my butt out of the sleeper bed of the Mack at a little after five in the afternoon. Once I was dressed, I pulled back the curtain, looked out the windows and swore to myself. It was mid-January, it was snowing, and it looked cold. The people walking in and out of the Love’s building were bundled up like it was Alaska instead of East Tennessee. That night was going to be one long-ass drive that I wasn’t going to enjoy very much.
To people in the northern US, half an inch of snow on the ground is just a nuisance. An inch, like it looked had settled on Love’s truck lot, might cause them to leave for work or to go shopping fifteen minutes early, but that’s about it. An inch of snow in Tennessee can pretty much shut down everything until the road crews get out and start plowing and spreading salt.
That wouldn’t be so bad if the people would stay home until that happens, but they don’t. They get in their cars and trucks and hit the road. Often they hit each other as they try to navigate on the slippery pavement. Several of them will end up sitting in their car or truck in the median of the interstate or off and down the side while waiting for a tow truck to pull them back out.
I suppose it’s not really their fault. It doesn’t snow very often or very much in the South, so people here don’t learn how to drive when the roads are slick. They’ll slow down a little, but forget they can’t make sharp turns or stop quickly. It only takes one hard turn while changing lanes and they start to lose control. They try to brake then.
Most cars today have anti-lock brakes, so they’ll probably be able to get it slowed down enough to straighten things out. If they don’t have anti-lock, the back end of the vehicle, especially a pickup with no weight in the bed, tries to catch up with the front when the rear brakes lock up. It spins out right there in the middle of other cars with drivers trying to stay on the road. Those other drivers also try to brake, and the result is usually at least one collision..
Antilock can’t do anything once the spin starts. It only helps you stop without starting to spin and in return, it stretches your stopping distance. That means you might not lose control, but you might run into the vehicle ahead of you. I remember a huge pile-up with forty-six cars one winter when I was driving for Allied Logistics, and that’s what caused it to be so bad. I was stopped in the lane going in the opposite direction, and watched as car after car tried to stop. Even if they could manage that, they were hit from behind by another car that couldn’t.
I couldn’t wait for the plows that night. I’d stopped at the Love’s outside of Dandridge because I’d been on the road for ten and a half hours and I couldn’t make the Love’s on the other side of Knoxville before my eleven hours were up. It was either stop in Dandridge or pull off on the shoulder in the middle of nowhere for ten hours of rest.
I was due at a factory dock in Nashville in six hours. When I checked the weather on the laptop beside the bed, it said the band of snow stretched from the Tennessee line almost all the way west to Ashland City. It looked like it would probably take me most of that six hours to make what was normally only about a four hour drive.
After starting the coffee pot and then pulling on a jacket, I walked the hundred or so feet to the building. I could have stuck a frozen sandwich in the microwave and had my breakfast, but I figured since it was gonna be a long night, I’d treat myself in advance. The egg and bacon burritos looked pretty good, so I bought a couple and headed back to the Mack. An hour later, I pulled out of the parking lot, down the street and then took the ramp onto I-40 West. It had stopped snowing and my headlights showed me the twin tracks other cars and trucks had cut through the snow that covered the asphalt.
A lot of people, including some truck drivers, don’t like driving at night. It’s dark and since there aren’t a lot of people on the road, there’s not much to see except what your headlights show you. I like driving at night for the same reasons. I don’t mind being alone on the road, and in fact, I’d rather have it that way. Without a lot of normal daytime traffic that would make me slow down and then accelerate over and over, the Mack would roll on at a steady speed that saves fuel and eats up the miles before you know it.
I-40 wasn’t particularly slick in most spots, but then, my rig weighed a little over sixty thousand. As long as I didn’t hit snow that had been packed down hard, that weight would hold me pretty tight to the pavement. Braking could still be a problem, but the Mack and my trailer have anti-lock and I was going to keep my speed down so I wasn’t too concerned. There wasn’t that much snow left on the road anyway, and the outside temperature on the dash of the Mack told me it was just a little below freezing. What snow was left on the road was more like slush, so apparently the highway guys had already been out with their salt trucks.
I saw headlights coming up behind me and whatever it was was flying low. When it moved into the left lane, it fishtailed a little, but then got straightened out and went by me doing about eighty to my sixty. That speed was crazy but the driver would probably have done OK if the road conditions had stayed like they were. As the Ranger pickup went by me, though, I saw the yellow sign on the shoulder that said “CAUTION Bridge May Freeze Before Pavement”.
That’s a common sign before bridges and overpasses in the South. Even if the temperature is below freezing, the earth under the pavement will keep it above freezing for quite a while. Bridges and overpasses are another story. Cold air blowing under the road there can cause the surface to freeze into ice even though the rest of the road doesn’t. I backed off the pedal a little just in case, and it was a good thing I did.
I was sitting high enough I saw the glare of ice on the overpass long before I got there and slowed down some more. The driver of the Ranger finally saw it just as it started across. A second later, I saw brake lights come on, then head lights, then brake lights again as the truck spun in a slow circle. I don’t know what kept it from hitting the rail one side of the overpass or the other, but it didn’t. The pickup made one complete circle and was almost lined up with the road when it got back off the ice again. The tires caught in the pavement on the other side, and the Ranger started swerving all over the road as the driver tried to correct for the spin.
The driver managed to keep the Ranger on the road long enough to get past the guardrail leading away from the overpass. It would have been better if it had hit the guardrail. If it had, it would have been torn up some, but wouldn’t have run down the embankment of the median.
As soon as the Ranger started spinning, I hit the dash button for the emergency lights and began stopping as fast as I could without doing the same thing. When I finally got the rig on the shoulder, I was a couple hundred feet from where the Ranger sat out in the median. I pulled on my jacket, grabbed the flashlight I keep beside my seat and got out to see if anybody was hurt. I heard the tires on the Ranger screaming as the driver tried to back up, but it wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t think there’s anything other than solid ice that’s slicker than wet snow on grass.
The temperature might have only been about freezing, by the by the time I got to where the Ranger had dived for the median, slipped and fell twice down going down the slope, and then got to the driver’s side door, my teeth were starting to chatter.
The woman in the driver’s seat was leaning over the steering wheel with her head in her hands, and she was shaking. I tapped on the window twice before she looked up. She rolled down the window when I made a cranking motion with my hands.
“Are you hurt”, I asked.
“No, I think I’m OK. I’m just scared, that’s all. Can you pull me back up on the road?”
I shook my head.
“I’m driving the semi you just passed. You’ll have to call a tow truck to get you out.”
“I can’t. I don’t have my phone with me.”
“Well, get out and come back to my truck. I’ll let you use mine.”
When she shut off the engine, opened the door and grabbed her purse, then stepped out of the Ranger, I saw that in addition to not knowing how to drive on slick roads, the woman didn’t know how to dress for cold weather either. All she had on was a T-shirt with a low-cut V neck, jeans, and tennis shoes. She was also shivering.
“Don’t you have a jacket”, I asked.
She shook her head.
“No. I was in a hurry and I didn’t think I’d need one. I never thought about anything like this happening.”
“Well, let’s get going before you freeze to death. You can warm up in my truck.”
I got her in the passenger side, closed that door and then got back in the driver’s seat. I was more than a little surprised when I turned on the cab lights so she could see to use my phone.
There wasn’t much of a moon that night, so down in the median, it was black as the ace of spades. My flashlight is a good light, but the beam isn’t very wide and we didn’t spend much time down there so I didn’t really get a good look at her. Going back to my truck I was more concerned with keeping myself and her from slipping and falling down than looking at her. There in the bright LED lighting of the cab, I did look.
She wasn’t some young kid who’d just started driving like I’d thought was probably the case. She looked about the same age as my ex, and that would have made her about twenty-six. She wasn’t really pretty, but I chalked that up to the fact she wasn’t wearing any makeup that I could see, not even lipstick, and her long, brown hair was just pulled back in a ponytail. She looked about like my ex used to look when she got out of bed in the morning – not ugly, just kinda plain.
The rest of her was about the same, though I thought her breasts were probably smaller than my ex’s. The T-shirt was cut pretty low and she wasn’t showing much in the way of cleavage. My ex had big breasts, but then she was bigger all over than this woman. My ex wasn’t fat by any means, but she was filled out a lot more in her ass and legs.
She was still shivering, so I bumped up the temperature control on the cab heater a couple notches and turned the fan to high. She leaned over to take the full blast of air on her chest and put her hands beside the grill in front of her, then looked at me and smiled.
“I’m really glad you stopped. I’d have frozen to death in my truck.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty cold out there to be dressed like you are. By the time I got to you I was cold, and I had a jacket on. You tell me when you’re warmed up enough and I’ll give you my phone.”
She spent the next five minutes or so with her hands in the air stream from the heater and with her face staring out the side window. She’d stopped shivering by then, but I could tell she was still shaken up.
I couldn’t blame her. I’d had that experience when I first started driving a truck and trailer. I’d tried to stop to avoid hitting a car in front of me, and when I decided I couldn’t, had made a sharp turn onto the shoulder. I missed the car, but ended up driving off the shoulder and down into a ditch. The rig didn’t tip over and I didn’t pee my pants, but it was touch and go there for a while.
When she turned back to face me, I could see tears in her eyes. She wasn’t crying or anything like that. Her eyes just looked really wet. I asked her if she was ready to call a tow truck. She nodded and said, “about as ready as I’ll ever be, but if it’s all right, I have to call my mother first. She’s expecting me and she’ll be worried sick when I don’t show up tonight.”
After I nodded, she tapped a phone number into my cell phone and then put it to her ear. A couple seconds later, the woman said, “Mom, this is Brenda.”
There was a pause while the other person said something I couldn’t hear, then the woman sniffed as she spoke.
“Mom, I’m not gonna make it tonight. I hit a slick spot and slid off the road.”
After another pause, she said, “No, I’m all right. A trucker stopped to help me. I’m using his phone to call you.”
As the woman listened again, I saw a tear stream down her cheek. As second later, there were more. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand before she spoke again.
“I know, Mom. I didn’t think he was that way either even though Betty warned me. I’m not going back, not ever, not even to get the rest of my stuff. I didn’t have that much there anyway.”
She wiped her eyes again.
“I don’t know, Mom. I don’t know how long it’ll take to get me pulled out and I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get there. I was in such a hurry to leave I forgot my phone so I can’t call you when I get started again.”
There was another pause, then the woman sighed.
“Yes, I’m glad it’s over too. I’ll be there as soon as I can get there. You can help me decide what to do next.”
She sniffed a few times and then wiped her eyes again.
“I will, Mom. Bye.”
When she tapped the phone to end the call, I grinned.
“So, your name’s Brenda?”
“Yes, Brenda Wilson.”
“Pleased to meet you Brenda. I’m Tim Simmons. You gonna call a wrecker now?”
She smiled a forced smile.
“Yeah, if I can figure out who to call.”
“Gotcha covered there. Give me my phone.”
I pulled up the browser on my phone and started the map program. A couple seconds later, the map with a little pointer filled the screen. We were about fifteen miles from the county road that went to Kodak. I typed “kodak tn towing” into the search box of the browser and then waited until the listings appeared.
All the listing were in Knoxville. That didn’t surprise me all that much. There aren’t a lot of towns or cities between the Love’s where I’d stopped and Knoxville, and the ones there are aren’t very big. Even the Love’s where I’d spent the day was out in the middle of nowhere all by itself. Brenda was going to have a long wait, and I couldn’t very well just sit her on the side of the road and drive on even if it made me late. I handed her the phone.
“You can try calling any of these, but it’ll probably take them an hour to get here. I’ll wait until one does. Tell them we’re on I-40 west about mile marker four-hundred.”
Brenda called the first company on the list, and when they answered, she told them where she was and what she needed. As soon as she stopped talking, she first frowned, then the tears streamed down her cheeks again.
“Not until tomorrow? Is there another company I can call that’s not so busy?”
She wiped her eyes again as she listened, then said “OK, if I decide to, I’ll call you back. Thanks.”
Brenda turned to me then.
“They said there are cars off the road all over Knoxville and that all the tow trucks in Knoxville and the suburbs are busy. They won’t be able to come out until about noon tomorrow.”
Well, that was a problem. If I didn’t make my dock time in Nashville, I’d have to wait until a dock was available. They wouldn’t dock me for being late, but it would put me behind schedule for my dock time in Memphis. If I was late for that one, I wouldn’t have a chance at making the dock times in Texarkana, Dallas, and Phoenix.
I thought about calling the police, but then I realized they’d be just as busy as the tow trucks. Some of the problems in Knoxville were undoubtedly collisions, and the local police and county sheriff’s department would be trying to sort all that out. They wouldn’t have time for an accident where nobody was hurt.
It was possible a state trooper might be in the area, but each car patrols a lot of miles and there were bound to be more cars off the road, so it might be several hours before one got there.
That left me only one option that I could see. I’d have to take Brenda with me into Knoxville and find her a place to stay. She could call the towing company in the morning and wait until they brought her Ranger to her.
“Well, Brenda, I can’t leave you here. I’ll take you into Knoxville so you can get a motel room for the night. Tomorrow, you can call a tow truck to get your car and bring it to the motel. That work for you?”
“I guess it has to, doesn’t it.”
“Well, you buckle up and we’ll get started.”
She didn’t say anything for a couple of miles. When I looked over at her from time to time, she seemed to be thinking so I didn’t try to start a conversation. We’d gone about twenty miles or so when she started to giggle, but stifled it and it came out as kind of a short. I chuckled.
“What was that for?”
“Oh, I was just thinking about what my husband’s gonna think when he gets home from work tonight.”
“Yes, in name only though. We haven’t been really married for almost a year now.”
I chuckled again.
“I thought you were either married or you weren’t. I didn’t know there was a such a thing as married but not really married.”
“Yes, unfortunately, there is. Being not really married is when your husband is sleeping with another woman instead of sleeping with you. That’s why I left him.”
I didn’t think I really needed to hear about that for several reasons, but Brenda seemed to want to tell me.
“See, we’d been married for two years and I thought everything was fine, well, everything but our jobs was fine. We lived about fifteen miles from Johnson City. I worked days cooking at a diner and Jack worked second shift at a factory. We didn’t see much of each other except on the weekends, but we made the most of those weekends. Then, about a year ago, he seemed to lose interest in me. I thought it was me, so I tried dressing sexy on the weekends and even started things off one Saturday morning. When I did that, Jack said he was going fishing so he had get up.
“That was the last time we were in bed together. After that, he started sleeping in the spare bedroom, so he wouldn’t wake me up when he got home, he said. Well, I still thought it was me but I didn’t know what else to do. Mom couldn’t tell me what to do so I asked one of my girlfriends at work.
“At first she didn’t want to tell me, but Chrissy finally did. She said she and her husband were out on the lake fishing a couple weeks before, and saw Jack go by in his bass boat. At first, she said, she thought the woman in the boat was me, but then she saw the woman was blonde.
“Chrissy said she wanted to tell me before, but she didn’t think I’d believe her. Well, if Jack and I had still been sleeping together I probably wouldn’t have, but I did then. The next Saturday he went fishing again. I knew where he always put in his boat so I waited about five minutes after he left and then drove my car to that ramp. Sure enough, he was there with a blonde woman in his boat.
“When he got home, I asked him who she was. He just laughed and said she was someone who knew more about sex than I’d ever even thought about. When I asked him what that was supposed to mean, he laughed again and said if I didn’t already know, I was too dumb to figure it out.
“It was my fault, I know. There were some things he wanted to do that I just couldn’t. I mean, some of the things were just nasty. I guess I should have just gone along and things would have been all right, but Mom didn’t raise me that way.”
It didn’t sound to me like Brenda had done anything wrong. Her husband was just a self-centered asshole. I didn’t tell her that, of course, but I did try to make her feel better.
“Brenda, I don’t think any of that was your fault. I’m not sure what you’re talking about not wanting to do, but no man who loved you would let that drive him to another woman. He probably would have done that no matter what you did.”
“No, it’s my fault for not listening to Betty. She dated Jack for a while until she found out he was dating another girl at the same time. She tried to tell me he was no good, but I didn’t listen. She tried again after Jack proposed, but by then all I was thinking about was being married, having kids, and living happily ever after.
“I’m not the prettiest girl in the world. I know that. When Jack proposed it was a little bit of a shock because he could have had any girl he wanted. I think I said yes because I was afraid to tell him no.”
Brenda frowned again.
“I guess that’s how it ended up though, isn’t it? He got the woman he wanted in spite of being married to me. I feel so stupid. All the magazine articles say a woman can see when it’s happening, but I didn’t.”
I couldn’t let her just sit there and keep running herself down so I tried to change the subject.
“So, what’s he going to find when he gets home from work that made you laugh?”
“Two things. The pickup is what Jack uses to pull his boat. He told me to take it to work this morning because he needed to have the car. I suppose he was going to take his girlfriend out for a drink after he got off work. I’m pretty sure he’s done that before, because I found an earring down between the seats of our car one day and it wasn’t one of mine. When he gets home, he’ll wonder why his truck isn’t in the drive.
She giggled again.
“He’ll find out when he goes inside. I used a permanent marker and wrote, ‘I hope your blonde can cook as well as she has sex because I’m done doing both for you’ on the refrigerator door.
“I know, it’s not very funny to you, but it’s the first time I ever stuck up for myself. It feels pretty good. I wish I could see his face when he sees that.”
I said I imagined her husband would be mad. She laughed.
“I sure hope so. It serves him right for doing what he did to me.”
“So, where do you go from here?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ll stay with Mom for a while, at least until I find a job, and then I’ll move to a place of my own. I’ll divorce Jack, of course. I don’t really think he’ll fight it, and I don’t want his boat or anything else he has so it won’t cost him anything. He’ll be glad to get rid of his ugly, frigid wife. That’s what he called me, ugly and frigid.”
She was still running herself down. I couldn’t see how he could have called her ugly. I didn’t know about frigid, but she wasn’t ugly by any means.
“Brenda, you’re not ugly.”
“It’s good to hear at least one man say that. Jack never did. I don’t think I’m frigid either. I just think a man and wife should agree on what they do, and not have one keep telling the other about how they should do this or that when they don’t want to.”
About that time we started picking up the normal traffic around any big city like Knoxville, and that traffic was moving pretty slow. I figured everybody had finally figured out the roads were slick and were being extra cautious. What that meant for me was I had to slow down and that would cause me another delay.
About five miles into the city limits was a Red Roof I used to use when I drove a truck without a sleeper. It wasn’t much on fancy, but it was a shower, TV, and a bed, and next door was a fast food burger place. Most importantly, the parking lot was huge. Even with all the cars parked there that night, it was big enough I could wheel my rig in and then get back on the street without having to back up and then pull forward about a hundred times to get turned around.
I pulled into the lot and told Brenda I’d wait until she came back out and told me she’d gotten a room. I also gave her my jacket so she wouldn’t get too cold. She climbed down out of the cab and trotted to the reservation desk. She wasn’t in there for more than three minutes before she came walking back with her head down. When she climbed back inside, she told me why.
“They’re full, and the clerk said all the other hotels and motels are too. They’re having some sort of exposition this weekend and all the exhibitors got here early to set up. There were still a lot of rooms left this morning, but once it started to snow, those filled up too. He said the people coming from Nashville said all the motels between here and Nashville are full too.”
I suppose I should have figured that would be the case. The snow wasn’t bad to drive on now, but it had started that morning. A lot of people who weren’t locals would probably have decided to stay the night in hopes the road crews would get I-40 cleared by morning. That was a smart decision, but it didn’t help Brenda any, and I wasn’t sure what to do with her. She understood that too.
“I guess I won’t be spending the night in a motel, will I?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Can I stay with you for a while longer?”
“Well, I have to be in Nashville in…”, I looked at the clock on the dash, “in about four hours so I can’t hang around here much longer. I don’t have a problem with you staying with me, but that’s taking you farther and farther away from your truck.”
“I don’t really care about that old truck. Jack smokes in it and every time I drive it my clothes and hair smell like cigarette smoke. He can come and get it if he wants it. I can use Mom’s car until I save enough to buy another one.”
“Where does your mom live? If it’s close to I-40, maybe I can drop you off there.”
“It’s not. She lives in Fayetteville.”
Fayetteville would cost me at least three hours and I’d never make my Memphis dock time.
“Brenda, I’d like to help you out, but I can’t…I mean, this is how I earn my living, and if I don’t keep to my schedule, I won’t get more hauling jobs.”
“If you let me ride to Nashville, I’ll call Mom and ask her to come get me. Would that be OK with you?”
We’d been back on I-40 and through Knoxville when Brenda touched my arm.
“I don’t know how to thank you. I won’t get you in trouble with your wife because you have a woman in your truck with you, will I? I don’t want her to think you’re messing around on her. I know what that feels like and I wouldn’t wish it on any other woman.”
“You won’t because I’m not married.”
I was coming up on a slow moving car and looked in my mirrors to see if anything was beside me, then pulled out and passed the car. When I’d gotten the rig back in the right hand lane I answered her.
“No, I’m not married. I was once, but not any more.”
“What happened”, she asked.
“Well, about the same thing that happened to you, but the other way around.”
“She was…with another man?”
“Yeah. I can’t really blame her all that much. It was my job that did it.”
“Your job? How could that be?”
“I was driving long-haul for a company in Raleigh that sells parts for about every car ever made. The parts for Japanese cars came from Japan and landed at the docks in San Francisco. I’d drive out to San Francisco and pick them up, then drive back to the main warehouse in Raleigh. That part of the trip took about five days.
“When I got to Raleigh I’d have a day off at home while they loaded me up with parts for their regional warehouses, then I’d start back for San Francisco. That trip took six days so I’d have one day in San Francisco to reset my hours, and then I’d start back to Raleigh.
“I only had one day at home in twelve. She got tired of doing everything for herself and found another guy to mow the grass and fix stuff around the house. He ended up helping her with some other things too.
“I made really good time on one trip from San Francisco and ended up getting home a day early. When I drove in my drive, there was a strange car parked there. When I went inside, they were on the couch together, naked. I didn’t say anything. I just left and went to a motel for the night.
“The next morning she called my cell phone to apologize. How do you apologize for something like that? She tried to say it was because she was lonely. I just told her I wouldn’t be back and that I wasn’t going to put any more of my pay in our joint checking account.
“She filed for divorce a month later and I didn’t contest it. Our lawyers worked out a settlement where she got half our checking account and half the house. When she sold it, I took my half of the money, bought this truck, and started out on my own. Right now, I have a contract with an electronics company in Raleigh, and I do about the same thing. I pick up parts from China in San Francisco and drive them to their main warehouse in Raleigh, then drop off parts at their factories on the way back.”
Brenda patted my arm.
“I’m sorry that happened to you. I understand how she felt, but what she did was wrong. I felt lonely too when Jack started sleeping in our spare bedroom, but that’s not an excuse for doing what she did. She could have started riding with you. That way you could be together every night.”
“I tried to get her to do that, but she said she couldn’t live in a sleeper cab and she was probably right. She liked clothes and shoes, and there’s no way all of her stuff would have fit. No, it’s better that we got divorced. I like the freedom I have with this job and I could never give it up, so it would have happened sooner or later. I’m just glad it happened before we had any kids like she wanted.”
I was half an hour late for my dock time in Nashville, but nobody else made theirs either so I didn’t have to wait to unload. While that was going on, Brenda used my cell phone to call her mother again. She said she hadn’t eaten since lunch, so I took her to a fast food place for something to eat while she waited for her mother to get there. It was about two in the morning when she thanked me with a hug, said goodbye, and then got in her mother’s car.
Three months later I was rolling along I-40 between Memphis and Jackson when my cell phone played it’s little tune to tell me I had an incoming call. I didn’t answer it because it was a little after two on a Friday afternoon and everybody on the road seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere for the weekend. I was due for a break and needed fuel though, so I pulled into the next Love’s. After fueling up and paying the bill, I found an empty space in the parking lot and picked up my phone.
I didn’t recognize the number, but the caller ID said Rachael Haynes. I didn’t remember ever talking to a Rachael Haynes, but I figured I must have at some point. The only way her name could have gotten in my cell phone was if I put it there. The area code was from the Nashville area so I figured it might be somebody at the Nashville plant, though I had no idea why they’d be calling me. I wasn’t due back there for four more days.
After tapping the screen to dial the missed call, I waited for an answer. What I got wasn’t the Nashville plant.
Brenda didn’t say “hello”. She said, “Hi Tim. How’s it going?”
“Yeah, this is me.”
“I don’t mind your calling, but how did you get this number?”
“It was on Mom’s phone from when I called her from yours. I wrote it down just in case she erased it.”
“And I suppose you typed her name and number into mine when you called her.”
“Yeah, I did it when I called her when we were in Nashville. I didn’t want you to block the number if I called you again. I thought if there was a name for the number, you’d answer it, and you did.”
“OK, so why the call?”
“I just wanted to thank you again. I’m divorced now. I don’t have much of anything yet, but I have a job and a new cell phone and this morning I bought a used car. It’s all because of you.”
“Brenda, all I did was take you from your truck to Nashville.”
“I know, but it wasn’t that. You were so nice to me even though you didn’t know me, and you said I wasn’t ugly. That meant more to me than you can ever imagine. I’d spent a year with Jack either ignoring me or telling me I wasn’t pretty. When you did what you did, I started to believe in myself again a little.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re happy now.”
I heard her take a deep breath.
“You’re almost to Jackson right now. That means you’ll be in Nashville in about four hours, right?”
“Yes, but how do you know that?”
“I got a cell phone tracker for my phone. I costs me ten dollars a month, and it’s really so you can track your kids and see where they are and who they’re talking to, but every night, I type in your phone number and look to see where you are. I have for the last month. That’s how I know how long it takes you to get from Jackson to Nashville.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I know it sounds silly, but it makes me feel a little like I’m still riding with you. I’d look to see where you were and then look for pictures of that place. I’d imagine I was looking out of your windows at what was going by. It helped me forget about Jack.
“It was dark that night and I couldn’t see much, but it was fun, the most fun I’d had in a long, long time. You probably didn’t think so, but it was for me. I just couldn’t tell you that, not after you told me about your wife. You’d have thought I was trying to do the same thing she did.”
“Brenda, I wouldn’t have thought that, but it’s OK if you did. Is that the only reason you called?”
I heard her take another deep breath.
“No. I wanted to ask you if you’d…I mean, I never really thanked you and I should have. When you get to Nashville, could I meet you someplace? We could have something to eat and then catch up.”
Well, I rolled into Nashville a little before six and took the Briley around the city to the restaurant she’d suggested. There wasn’t much of a parking lot, but Brenda said there was Walmart with a big lot next door. She wasn’t joking. There were a lot of cars in the Walmart lot, but there was still enough room for a lot more trucks than were already parked there. I pulled in beside a Kenworth with a load of machinery, locked up, and walked to the restaurant.
Brenda was waiting there at the door, though I didn’t recognize her at first. When she’d been riding my shotgun seat, she’d looked a little disheveled and plain. That night, her hair was fixed and her face was entirely different. She laughed when she saw the look on my face.
“I haven’t changed that much, have I?”
“No, but you are different. It’s a nice difference too. You look great.”
Even in the dim light over the door I could see her blushing.
“I tried. Thanks for noticing. It means a lot to me.”
I was a little uncomfortable sitting at the table in my jeans and blue shirt with the Simmons Trucking logo on the back since Brenda was wearing a really nice dress, but I quickly forgot about that. Brenda told me what had happened once her mother picked her up in Nashville.
“Would you believe Jack didn’t call Mom or Chrissy or anybody to find out where I was? All he did was go get his truck after the state police told him where it was and that he had to move it or they’d tow it away. He thought more of that truck than he did of me.
“The day after Mom picked me up, I went to a lawyer. I told him what was going on and that Chrissy could back me up. He asked what I wanted and I told him just to be rid of Jack. He called me two days later and said he’d gotten a statement from Chrissy, and had drawn up the papers and Jack had them. He called me a week after that and said Jack had hired a lawyer and they’d had a meeting. Even though I’d told him I didn’t want anything, he’d told Jack I wanted the car and his boat. He’d gotten Jack to agree to pay both lawyer’s fees instead.
“So, I got divorced and it didn’t cost me anything except a year of feeling worthless. I don't feel that way now. I got a job as a cook again, but it’s at a better restaurant so I get paid more than before. I’m pretty happy, happier than I’ve been in over a year.”
I had to smile because Brenda was smiling for all she was worth. It was infective, that smile. I couldn’t stop.
We finished dinner and I was walking her to her car when she asked if she could sit in my shotgun seat one more time. I didn’t see any harm in saying she could.
She climbed up the two steps, plopped herself down on the seat and then sighed.
“I won’t ever forget how this feels. It must be nice to do this every day.”
“Most people wouldn’t think so, but it’s the only job I’ve ever had where nobody tells me what to do or how to do it. I like that.”
She looked around some more, than looked back into the sleeper section.
“That’s where you sleep?”
“Yep, that’s my motel room. I don’t just sleep there though. I have a stereo radio, a TV and a DVD player, and a little refrigerator/freezer and a microwave so I don’t have to go to restaurants to eat.”
Brenda had a sheepish look on her face when she said, “Can I try it out?”
When I said she could, she slid sideways on the seat, stood up, and walked back to the bed. She sat down, kicked off her high heels, and then stretched out on her back.
“This is comfy. I bet you sleep really good.”
“It’s not like sleeping in a regular bed, but you get used to it.”
“How do you keep people from seeing inside? I wouldn’t want anybody to see me sleeping.”
I got out of my seat and showed her the curtain that pulls across the space between the sleeper and the seats. She rolled to her side after I’d closed the curtain and turned around.
“That would do it. You know, this bed is almost big enough for two people, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I suppose, if they’re both small.”
“You’re tall, but you’re not fat and I’m not very big. We’d probably fit just fine, don’t you think?”
She was grinning at the time and I wasn’t sure where she was going.
“I suppose we would. It’d be pretty tight though. You wouldn’t want to roll around much or one of us would end up on the floor.”
She was still grinning.
“Maybe we should try it out, just so I can tell the girls at work what it feels like to be in a sleeper with a man.”
That grin told me she wasn’t just looking for a story to tell her friends.
“Brenda, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Why not? I’m single and you’re single. I never told you this, but I liked sleeping with Jack even though he wanted me to do things I didn’t want to do. It made me feel needed and I miss that…I miss it a lot.”
“Brenda, we hardly know each other.”
Her face got more serious than I’d ever seen it, even when she told me about her problem with her husband.
“I knew Jack for two years before we got married, and look how that turned out. What I know about you is you helped me when I needed help and you made sure I was safe before you left me. That’s all I need to know, for now. Jack never acted that way.”
“I thought you weren’t into doing things like this.”
“No, I wasn’t into doing what Jack wanted me to do. I wasn’t into sleeping with another man while I was married to him either, but I’m not married to him now. It’s what I want. If you don’t want that too, I’ll just leave, but I hope this will make you want me.”
Her dress was one of those held closed by just a few big buttons down the front. Brenda unbuttoned the button at the bottom, close to her knee, and then the next one. When that part of the dress fell away, I was looking at a very smooth and soft looking thigh. She undid the next button, and before I could tell her to stop, she flipped the dress over her hip and I was looking at some really small, black lace panties.
I did try to stop her then.
“Brenda, I’m not sure where you’re going with this.”
She smiled a wicked little smile.
“I know what I’m doing. If you haven’t figured out what I’m doing by now, you need some help.”
When she undid the last button, Brenda flipped open the rest of the dress. I’d been right about her breasts. They weren’t quite as big as my ex’s, but in the black lace bra, they were a lot more erotic.
She looked up at me and held out her hand.
“Tim, you told me I wasn’t ugly. Come here and show me you meant that.”
I’ll be the first one to say I probably shouldn’t have, but I’ll be the last to say it was a mistake. There, in my sleeper in a Walmart parking lot, I learned a lot about how loving a woman can be, and how erotic she can be if she wants to be that way. It was kind of like what Brenda’s husband had told her about his girlfriend, except if I’d been sleeping with Brenda at the time, it’s what I’d have told my ex about Brenda.
It wasn’t that she was sexy in her black panties and bra. She was, but it was the way she held out her arms and smiled at me. My ex never did that. My ex obviously liked sex or she wouldn’t have been screwing the lawn guy, but she never really acted like she wanted sex with me. Brenda was a lot different.
I read sometimes instead of watching movies on my little TV. I like mystery novels, and any more, every one has sex in it. It’s not porn, just what leads up to the humping and then a veiled description of what they feel during and afterwards. In a lot of them, the woman starts undressing the guy before they fall into bed. I always thought that was a bunch of crap. I thought that until Brenda sat up, scooted to the edge of the bed and then slipped the dress off her shoulders.
She tossed it on the shelf above my little refrigerator, then put her arms around my neck. After she stood on her tiptoes and kissed me, she giggled.
“I guess I have to get you started, don’t I”, and started unbuttoning my shirt. Once she had it open, she put her arms around my neck again. I felt lace against my chest as she pressed her firm breasts into me.
“Mmm”, she murmured. “This feels really nice. Think you can go it on your own now, or do I have to help some more?”
Well, it had been a while, but I hadn’t forgotten that feeling. Neither had my cock. When I got my pants down around my knees, it was standing tall. I kicked off the engineer boots I always wear and then let my pants fall to the floor while Brenda stroked the front of my underwear and grinned.
“I think this part thinks I’m OK. What does the rest think?”
I reached around her for her bra hooks.
“The rest thinks just like that part.”
When her bra straps slipped down her arms, Brenda just let it fall and then put her arms around my neck again. Like I said, her breasts were a little smaller than my ex’s, but because she mashed them into my chest, they were doing a lot more to me than my ex’s ever had.
Brenda nibbled my neck, then my earlobe, and then whispered, “Make love to me Tim. Show me you really do want me.”
It wasn’t hard to do that, not at all, because by then, the only thing I could think about was the woman in my arms. She seemed so small and fragile, yet so erotic, so erotic with her breasts pressed flat against my chest I couldn’t have stopped touching her even if I’d wanted to.
I gently pushed her back on the bed, then took off my underwear and climbed up beside her. When she held out her arms again, I held my weight on my arms and kissed her, then felt those arms around my back, stroking up and down.
Brenda sighed when I kissed her chin and then nuzzled down her soft shoulder to her left breast. When my lips closed around her nipple, she sighed again.
“Oh, Tim. I want you so much.”
I don’t think you’re supposed to remember everything that happens when you have sex. I know I don’t. Maybe it’s because were supposed to remember just enough that we want to do it again, or maybe it’s because instinct takes over and we don’t really realize what’s happening. I don’t know, but what I do remember still makes me smile to this day.
Brenda seemed to love having her nipples kissed. As soon as I kissed that left nipple, it got all stiff and the dark circle around it got all wrinkled. She moaned then and stroked my hair.
When I kissed the other nipple, she did the same thing. My ex had liked that too, but not like Brenda. Brenda moaned and I felt her hips rock up just a little. She did that again when I nuzzled around her soft breast and then licked the tip of her nipple.
She moaned again when I kissed my way between her breasts and then down her tummy. When I came to the waistband of her panties and started going lower, she gently touched my head.
“Tim, please… no.”
I figured that was one of the things her husband had asked her to do that she didn’t want to do, so instead of going lower, I pulled on the waistband of her panties. Brenda raised her hips to let me slip them down and then raised her legs so I could get them off. I moved to lay on my side beside her then.
Brenda didn’t want me kissing any lower than her belly button, but she didn’t mind taking my hand and guiding it between her thighs. I didn’t really need to be shown, but I let her do that. When my fingertips touched hair, I moved them lower until they felt her slender outer lips. Brenda’s hips twitched when I started stroking up and down those lips, and she gasped when one fingertip slipped between them.
It’s after that I start to forget what happened. I do remember she was a little dry, and I remember trying not to use very much pressure when I slipped that fingertip down. At some point, she must have gotten pretty slippery because after a few gentle strokes, that fingertip slipped inside her entrance.
Brenda groaned then, and I felt her trying to pull me between her legs. When I raised up to do that, she opened her thighs wide and her hips lurched up a little. My fingertip slipped inside her deeper and she moaned.
“Oh, it was never like this before.”
Like I said, I’ve forgotten a lot about that night. I remember hearing Brenda moan a lot when I bent down my head and kissed her nipples again, and I remember her pulling my face up so she could kiss me. I remember her breaking that kiss and then whispering, “Tim, I’m ready for you”. After that, about the only thing I remember is the feeling of my cock head feeling the wet warmth of her entrance and then feeling how tight she was when I pushed a little harder. When Brenda lifted her hips a little, my cock slipped inside her and I stopped remembering most of everything.
It was just too exquisitely wonderful to feel her body making love to me as I made love to her. It was the way she stroked my back and then from time to time pulled my face down so she could kiss me. It was the way her satin thighs would be open wide one second, then close around my waist as she moaned when my cock sank all the way into her depths. It was the way she moved her hands down to my ass and started pulling me into her.
I lost track of time with Brenda along with losing track of everything else besides her little moans and gasps, her hands first stroking my back or pulling on my hips, then raking my back with her nails when her body started to rock under me. I do remember when she dug her heels into the bed and started lifting her hips into my strokes. I remember because my cock head went a little deeper inside her, deep enough it pressed against something very soft. That softness felt like it was sucking at my cock when I pulled back out.
I remember her thrusting her hips high and hanging there for a few seconds, then falling back down and gasping, “Oh, Tim, don’t stop.”
After that, everything runs together. She held her breath as she raised up into my next stroke and sort of stayed here. Her legs began to shake, then cried out as her hips began rocking up and down over my cock. I felt her nails dig into my ass cheeks and that was it. I groaned as the first spurt raced through my cock and spewed out the tip.
That made me gasp too, and the second spurt was the same. Brenda groaned and then arched a little higher when I pumped in the third. She stayed like that, arched up and shaking like a leaf while I kept stroking my cock in and out through the contractions that were gripping my shaft.
When she eased back down on the bed, she sighed, then giggled.
“Wow. I know it’s been a long time, but I don’t remember it being like this before. We have to do this again.”
I bent down and kissed her on the forehead, then raised up to look at her face.
“Brenda, it was never like this for me either.”
She pulled my face down to her shoulder.
“So, does this mean we found something together, or does it mean it’s just been a long time for both of us?”
I had to think about that for a while. I’d liked Brenda since that day I warmed her up in my truck cab. She was a woman like the woman I’d sort of put together as my idea of perfect before I married my ex. By that I mean, she wasn’t gorgeous, but she was a pretty woman when she dressed up. Brenda had acted like a perfect lady that night in my truck, but she’d showed me she had a woman’s emotions too. I liked both.
That night while I lay there between her thighs feeling the little contractions of her body ebb away, she was the other part of the woman I’d thought about. The perfect lady had turned into a very erotic woman, at least in my mind, and it was going to be hard to give up both.
I eased off her and rolled to her side, then pulled her to my chest.
“I don’t know. I think it means we should keep seeing each other so we can find out.”
It was really hard to get dressed and then walk her to her car, but I had to be in Raleigh by the next afternoon. After I kissed her there in the parking lot of the restaurant, she held me close and asked when I’d be back in Nashville again.
“Well, it’s a day to Raleigh so I’ll get there late tomorrow. They don’t work on Sunday so I’ll get unloaded Saturday afternoon and then loaded again on Monday morning. I’ll have to be at the factory in Nashville by Tuesday afternoon at two.”
“Will you call me when you get to Knoxville so I can get ready?”
“I’ll probably call you before that.”
That four days were the longest day’s of my life. At least on Saturday I had driving to mostly take my mind off Brenda, almost but not quite. It was late Saturday by the time they got me unloaded, so I left my trailer at the dock and went to refuel. I called Brenda that night and we talked for a while. When she said she needed to get to bed, I said goodbye and then looked at the clock on my cell phone. We’d talked for almost an hour. Never in my life, even with my ex when we were still married, had I talked to anyone for that long. I guess that should have told me something. The next three days did.
Sunday was hell. I had nothing to do except lay there on my bed and read, except I couldn’t really read. I kept remembering it was on this same bed where we’d made love. Sometimes I even thought I could smell her perfume on the pillow and sheets, but I’d changed them the day before so I knew that couldn’t be the case. I gave up on my mystery novel and put a movie in the DVD player. After two movies, I treated myself to a burger and fries at the truck stop, then watched two more movies. I don’t even remember what they were about.
It was six when Brenda called me.
“I miss you”, was all she said after I said “hello”.
“Well, I miss you too. This sitting here by myself and wondering what you’re doing is driving me nuts.”
“Wanna know what I’m doing?”
“If you want to tell me.”
“I just took a bath so I’m all clean…and I’m sitting on my bed naked and putting lotion all over me.”
“That sounds interesting.”
“It would be better if I was feeling your hands instead of mine.”
“Well, I’m not there or I’d help you out.”
“How would you do that?”
I won’t go into all those details. Let’s just say that a while later, Brenda was panting into her phone and I was lying on my bed stroking my cock. Right after she gasped and then cried out, I used a paper towel to catch everything so I wouldn’t have to change my sheets before going to sleep.
On Monday I was busy checking off the invoices as they loaded my trailer again. I thought about starting out when they finished, but then thought about Brenda. If I started for Nashville then, I’d get there Tuesday morning. Brenda would be working and my dock time wasn’t until two so I’d have to spend most of the day sitting on my thumbs and waiting for her to get home.
Instead I called her again and said I’d start early Tuesday morning, make my two o’clock dock time and then meet her at that same restaurant. She hadn’t taken her bath yet, so we didn’t do a re-run of the night before. We just talked about a lot of things she and I both wanted to do while we were still able.
I called her again when I stopped to pee just outside of Knoxville. We didn’t talk for very long. I had to get back on the road and she was busy at work. We set the time to meet as six. Brenda said that would give her enough time to get ready. I said she’d be fine however she looked, but she wasn’t having any of that. She just laughed.
“You don’t want to see me like I am now. I’m hot from bending over the stove and grill and my hair’s a mess because I have it all piled up under a hair net. I want to fix that so you’ll be happy to be with me.”
I was happy to be with her that night. I was even happier when she climbed up into my cab, went back to the sleeper and closed the curtain behind us. I made a decision that night, though I didn’t tell her right away. It was too soon, not for me, but I thought it was too soon for her. I remembered how I felt after my divorce and I figured she’d feel the same way.
I was thinking about that as we lay there on the sleeper bed afterwards. I was feeling the little tightenings in her tummy when I stroked her and listening to her breathing get back to normal. I didn’t yet know if I loved her, not for sure, but I thought I did. I didn’t know how she felt either. She fixed that once she could talk without stopping every second or so to breathe.
“Tim, I don’t want to stop seeing you…not ever.”
“Now I know I’m not that good in bed.”
Brenda raised up on one arm.
“It’s not what we just did. That made me feel really good, but that’s not it. It was how bad I felt when I wasn’t with you and how good I felt the whole time tonight. It was like I was meant to be with you. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I don’t want to drive home by myself again and I don’t want to have to wait until you come back to see you again.”
I could tell she was being serious, so I tried to be serious too.
“Brenda, this is how I make my living. I can’t just stop doing that. Besides, this is what, our second real date? You just came out of a bad marriage and I know what that feels like. I feel the same way about you, but are you sure you’re not just reacting to being just divorced?”
She ran a fingertip down my chest.
“At first, I thought that’s what was happening. Chrissy said I should be careful for a while or I’d get myself back into the same mess I was in before, and I believed her. I told myself it was just because I hadn’t been told I was pretty or been touched in so long.
“Tim, I can’t think that way anymore. When I’m with you, even when we’re not having sex, I’m so happy I’m ashamed of myself. When I drive back home by myself, it feels like part of me got lost somewhere. When you call me, that part comes back and I’m happy again.”
I stroked a stray hair from her face and then kissed her on the forehead.
“So, if we both feel that way, and I have to say that happens to me too, what do we do? I can’t stop driving and I know what time away from each other can do to a marriage.”
“It wouldn’t do that if I rode with you, would it?”
“No, but this isn’t a life for a woman. You need more stuff than you could ever fit in my truck, clothes and jewelry and stuff, and I don’t have any way for you to even shower, much less take a bath.”
“Tim, all I need is a few jeans and tops for winter and shorts and tops for summer, oh, and a jacket so you don’t have to give me yours again. I can’t wear more than one necklace and one pair of earrings at a time, so I don’t need lots of those.
“When we stopped at the truck stop that first night, I talked to a woman in the ladies room. She rides with her husband, and she showers at the truck stops. She washes their clothes in the machines at truck stops, and if she needs something, they just spend the night in a Walmart parking lot. We could do the same thing, couldn’t we?”
“What about getting dressed up? My ex used to love getting dressed up. That means you’d need dresses and shoes and all that other stuff.”
“You don’t care that I’m not dressed up now, do you?”
“That’s different. You know what I mean.”
“Tim, what would I dress up for? I don’t really like doing it all that much anyway. Dresses are OK, but heels make my feet hurt if I wear them for very long. I don’t need to dress up for anybody except for you, and with you, it’s more fun being undressed.”
“If you’re undressed and sitting by the window, a lot of truckers are gonna like you too.”
She stuck out her little tongue at me.
“You know what I mean. My point is that I want to be with you all the time, not just for a few hours every eleven or twelve days. I won’t be giving up a lot of clothes and jewelry because I’ve never had them and I don’t want them. What I want is you…if you want me.”
Brenda didn’t come with me that trip or the next few. The restaurant said they’d give her a bonus if she’d stay until they found another cook, and after that, she had to sell her car. It was July when she tossed the bag of her stuff in my cab and then climbed up inside. I was already in my seat, and had to smile at the wedding ring on her finger. I didn’t think I’d ever do that again, but I had, and for the first time in a long time, it felt like the world had gotten right again.
I never worried too much about where I put anything because it was just me living in my truck. Brenda spent about an hour rearranging everything, and found a way to put her stuff in the cabinets along with mine. For a while I was a little uneasy with the box of tampons tucked into the drawer where she put our shower stuff, but I got used to that. Having her along was worth a lot more than the embarrassment of having to take that box out to get to my razor and shaving cream.
That day, we headed to San Francisco, and I’d timed it so we had at least some hours on the road during daylight. Brenda had never been farther from home than Nashville and Johnson City, so she spent most of the time telling me how beautiful the country was. I guess when you see the same thing about twice a month, the new wears off because I’d stopped looking at the scenery. What she said was true though, once I started looking again.
It’s funny how one person can change your outlook on life. From just a woman I’d helped when she ran off the road, Brenda had become the partner I’d always wanted but never found. I don’t know what’s ahead for us except staying together. I can’t imagine not looking to my right and seeing her sitting there in her jeans, shirt, and blue running shoes.
She’ll look back and purse her lips, then smile at me. I’ll smile back because I know she means that, just like she’s going to mean what she does when we stop for the day. After we eat, we’ll go back in the sleeper, close the curtain, and she’ll take off most of her clothes. She leaves her bra and panties for me. She says when I take them off, it makes her feel like I really want her. I do want her, more than anything I’ve ever wanted before.