Excerpt: Bayou Girl

Here’s an excerpt from “Bayou Girl”:

David sang along to the blaring radio at the top of his lungs. He kept glancing at his speed. Going too fast on the dark road in the middle of the night was asking for an accident. Aside from other cars and the possibility of swerving off the road, there was lots of wildlife out here, some of them large enough to cause damage. Deer, especially. Right on queue, he came around a curve and there was something in the road. He slammed on the breaks before his brain had registered that the something was human, and female. She was running across the road. Breaking, swerving, and swearing in a rush of panic, David just barely missed her. He pulled the car off the side of the road and got out to check on her. His legs were shaking so badly he had to lean against the car for a moment to steady himself. “Holy shit! Are you ok?” he called.

            The girl had made it to the other side of the road and was looking back at him. David could barely make her out in the moonlight, but he thought she looked teenaged, maybe a little older. The girl didn’t answer, so he called again. “Are you ok?” Could he have clipped her with his car?

            He took a few steps toward her, and she answered, “Yes. I’m okay.” Her voice had a weird quality to it, an accent that he couldn’t place. The girl looked both ways down the road and then crossed it to meet him.

            “I’m so sorry, miss. I came around the corner and almost didn’t see you in time,” he said as she stopped a few feet away from him on the shoulder. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”

            “Going for a walk,” she said. She laid one arm over the other, hugging herself.

            What if she was going into shock? “Do you have a car? Do you live nearby?” What a stupid question, David told himself. They were at the edge of the Everglades.

            The girl looked toward the trees, then back at him. “I—I need a ride,” she said in her strange accent.

            Putting warnings about picking up strangers aside, David said, “Where to?” He’d almost run her over. The least he could do was drive her somewhere.

            She rubbed her arms and shifted her feet. “Naples.”  

            “Oh. I live there. It won’t be any trouble to drop you off on the way.”

            “Good.” She walked toward the car, making a wide circle around the back to the passenger side, not getting close to him.

            David quickly reached for his door and tapped the unlock button. The girl got in and sat down without another word. He got back into the car. “So, where in Naples are you going?” he asked as he pulled back onto the road.

            “I don’t know,” she said quietly.

            He glanced over at her. In the glow from the dashboard, he could just make out a dark stain on her shirt sleeve. “Is that blood? Are you alright?”

            “I’m fine.” Her hand came up to cover the stain.

            “Are you sure? Do you need to go to the hospital?”

            “No! No! No hospital!” She twisted in the seat and grabbed the door handle. “You drive to hospital, I jump!”

            Oh, shit, I picked up a nutcase. “Calm down! I won’t take you to the hospital, ok?”

            “No hospital?”

            He shook his head. “No, no hospital.”

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