Highway 80 west stories part two “Lana”
Highway 80 west stories part 2 “Lana”
A Chapter by Coyote Poetry
Good to travel when you are young. Never know what you can learn when you have no final destination or rush to get to somewhere.
I like to travel from 10 am to 7 pm. I can rest and eat from 4 pm to 6 pm and miss the heavy traffic. Today my goal was Omaha. She is the distance. I have picks eight cities I wanted to stay in. I had 12 days to get to Fort Ord, California. My year in the war zone allotted me 40 days of vacation. I had a lot of cash and I wanted to have some fun. The Omaha exit had a small mall in it. I needed some new clothing. The Iraq heat made me lose 40 pounds. Old clothing didn’t fit. I walked in the mall and I wandered to the coffee bar. I ordered a double expresso and I watched the people going by. I see a woman near me. She is crying. Some man was yelling at her. I tried not to pay attention. I heard a hit of skin to skin. The young girl was on the ground at my feet. She was barely 21 years old and I saw the fear in her eyes. He reached to hit her again. I moved forward and he hit me instead. I whispered. “You did enough.” He smiled. He was larger and taller. He saw me judging his weak points. I was deciding to hit his knees or his neck? He reached for me and I pushed him against the wall and told him. “Not nice to hit girls. I was willing to fight if he desired. ” I was face to face with him and he smiled and yelled at me and the girl. “Keep the bitch. She can walk to her sisters.”
He walked away. I saw the young girl on the floor still. She had a bruises on her neck and arms. I reached to her and I apologies for getting involved. She looked at me with green eyes and said. “It is okay. He is a asshole anyway. ” She watched him leave the mall and came and sat with me. She reached out her hand and told me. ‘My name is Lana. Two days ago I lived in Boston. Today I live no- where. I wanted to go to Reno. My sister lived in Reno. The prick who left was my boyfriend. We didn’t get along. I believe it was my fault.”
I told her. “Lana, no-one should hit a woman. The man is shit. You can do better. You are young and pretty. A whole lot of life ahead of you.” She smiled and told me. “Soldier with the bad haircut, where are you going? You look dangerous a minute ago. Would you have hurt him? I told her. I have six sisters and a kind Grandmother. If he hit you again. I would have put him down for a minute.” I asked her was she hungry? I was going to the Holiday Inn for some food. I was going to stay till tomorrow morning. I’m trying to get to Fort Ord.”
At the Restaurant. She was quiet. I wished for her to speak to hear her voice. I like the Boston accent. She was thinking too hard. She was petite, maybe barely a 100 pounds. Long auburn hair and sad green eyes. I told her do you want to hear a joke? She tried to smile and said yes. “What happen when you mix a fool and a mule together.” She told me, she didn’t know. I told her you get a man.
She called her sister on the nearby payphone. She came back smiling and asked me to talk to her sister. To tell her she was okay. I went to the phone and told her my name was Johnnie. A soldier going west. Lana was okay. The voice on the other side was crying. She told me. “My name is Sandy. You have my baby sister with you. Her father died last week. She need help. I know I’m a stranger and I’m asking for too much. Could you bring her to Reno, please?” I told her. It is her decision. I’m a stranger also. I will help if I can. Sandy told me I will pay for the food and the gas when you bring her home. I told her. “Sandy, don’t worry. I have a lot of money. Everything will be okay.”
I go back to the table and Lana looked scared. I told her.”Everything is going to be okay. You got lucky. I’m passing Reno anyway. If you have no cash. I can pay the bills for two rooms till you get to your sister house. You can pay me back when you are rich and famous” Lana asked could I buy some wine to relax her nerves. She whispered to me. “I trust you. Your eyes are sad. You have seem too much shit. I’m sorry to be added to the burden. I will try to be a small burden. One room is enough. Soldiers money is earned. Doesn’t need to be wasted. I can sleep on the couch.”
I rented the room and leave Lana alone with her thoughts. I go to the K-mart and I bought her some warm sleeping clothing. I buy her a better and warmer jacket. I bought her some sweet wine and myself a six pack of miller lite. I had a handful of new problems now. Lana reminded me of Jenny. She was filled with sadness and didn’t have no place to release it.
I went back to the room. Lana was sleeping. I saw her clothing on the table. I touched her shoulder gentle. I told her I have some sleeping clothing for her. She stood up. She was wearing bra and panties only. She put the pajamas on and she thanked me. I gave her the bottle of sweet wine. She opened the bottle and took a long drink. She asked me. “Why is life unfair. Why do the good people die and leave us? I didn’t appreciate my father and now he is gone. My father would be pissed off if he knew I gave everything away to my brothers. All I have is his war medals and his rings.” She looked at me with flowing tears. I went to her. Kissed her forehead. Caressed her hair and face like a child. I told her. “It will be okay. You need to remember your father face. His words and his love and kindness. Can’t stop death or sadness. Please Lana, you need to cry, to yell and to scream.”
Lana fell asleep in my arms after drinking the wine. I put her into the hotel bed. I put the blanket around her. I kissed her forehead. I didn’t talk much. Sometime better to hold silence than open up new wounds. Poor Lana had a lot to grasp. I know her position. Death leave us alone and afraid.
I create a bed on the floor of extra blankets and the the free pillows. The hard ground wasn’t so bad. In the past year. An Army cot was a luxury. I fell to asleep quickly and was awoken by Lana falling into my arms crying. She whispered to me. “Please don’t fail me. Stranger, my protector. Please hold me and listen to me. I’m tire, I want to scream out my disappointment Johnnie. I need a soft voice and to be held.”
I held her and caressed her face and I watched her fall asleep. Poor Lana, she was crying in sad and distance dreams. I knew. Sometime someone near is just enough.