Morning Cowgirl

Me and Fern, we was at the truck stop eating eggs, toast and hash browns and this lanky guy comes in. Bowlegged. He was wearing glasses held in place by one of them athletic straps. Behind him, a few steps back, was a hooker who he had let the door slam on. She had on one of those tank t-shirt dresses that grazed her ass. It was black and she paired it with lucite strappy sandals. She made a grand entrance into the truck stop. Rightousness in her strut. She came in the gold chain around her waist bouncing up and down on her thick thigh. The big gold hoops in her ears swinging.

Fern was talking about her x-husband's obsession with all things Toltec and I sorta left her there chattering away and didn't really hear nothing else she was saying. When the hooker reached the counter, she took a stool next to her john. She seemed to have already shaken it off. Slipped into another skin. He ordered right outta the menu some food for taking out without asking her what she wanted. She just sat staring ahead at the rows of mini cereal boxes behind the counter. The moon-headed man next to her recognized his opportunity, abandoned his syrupy flapjacks and scanned the length of her body with his bloodshot eyes.

The food came. A couple bags of it. The john got up and paid at the cash register leaning full-shouldered on the counter where inside a field of pastel cotton balls supported a basket of silk spring flowers. She recognized her opportunity and ordered a coffee. Moonman started his talking. She took her time pouring in a steady stream of sugar. Plucked open the cream pots one by one to his sweet talk. Bowlegged man was just waiting for her staring in to the back of his head when he finally sprung. Lunged at her. Pulled at her arm. She snap-twisted out of his grasp, lips mouthing something to moonman and picked up her Styrofoam cup. Moonman doesn't break his gaze and watches each finite movement of her leaving his presence. Bowlegged man was left standing there with the bags as she swayed out of truck stop ahead of him. Behind him, a tower of cakes spun under florescent lamps. He caught the door with his gym shoe before it closed.

By this time, Fern paused and I snapped back paying her full attention again. She wanted to buy a phone card to use to call her newly ex-boyfriend. Sure, I said. I sucked down the rest of my coffee and shoveled in another bite of cold potatoes as she dug into her purse for change, thanking me for listening. Next to the phone card dispenser was a kid maybe 17, maybe 15. Face blistered with pimples - he sat wringing his hands as a pregnant girl languidly scratched off the oily silver patches on a long strip of instant tickets. Their baby stared up at the inside of his stroller. Fern put her fiver and the machine spit her card out ad it skittered across the floor.


- Nance Klehm