Frieda edged the car down the exit ramp and along the edge, slowing gradually, unsure where or how to stop. They were into the city limits now, the concrete and orange sodium lights stretching up like spires. The crisp, hard glare of billboard light. And the garish neon of pawn shops, bail bonds men, beer joints and laudromats where no person ever went expecting to get there clothes clean.
“Here? You sure?”
“Here. It isn’t far,” Sebastian said searching for any landmark to help orient. Everything was so strange and savage from here.
“Look. You’re plenty weird, and I’m not sure you’ve got any clue what you’re doing but I think you’re harmless. And I hope you find your girl and that she is glad to see you and everybody lives happily ever after. But I really don’t feel good about leaving you right here. People get mugged. People get stabbed. Let me take you a further bit up the road. Buy you some dinner. Give you time to make a plan.”
Sebastian opened his door. “You are very kind. When I tell Lana of the kindness you have shown me, she will join me in blessing your name. But I must be going now.” He stepped out of the car. “Thank you.”
“Okay. Whatever,” Frieda told him. Watching Sebastian take to his feet, unsteady, blinking as if completely dazed and dazzled by the confused spectacle of light and color. Sebastian shook his head as if to clear it. Rolled his eyes, as if he might pass out. “Take care,” she told him and pushed the car into gear. Frieda drove further down the ramp, watching Sebastian in her rear view mirror, staggering the wrong way across the road. And a car coming too fast in the opposite lane and those cockeyed headlights sweeping the shadow and the sickening moment she saw shape and shadow connect and Sebastian’s body fly over the hood of the speeding car.
She stopped. Jumped out of her car, left idling. Sebastian lying in a crumpled mass in the middle of the road. And the stillness of the other car as the driver checked every mirror. The door opened, closed, opened again, closed. And then the brake lights glare, dim, as the car pulls away, slowly at first and then with sudden gust of speed. And Frieda is cursing and hyperventilating and trying to catch the letters and numbers of the license plate but everything is happening much too fast and she can’t stop looking at the heap that is Sebastian’s body on the pavement. And she is cursing the driver of the car and she is cursing Sebastian and she is cursing herself for being unable to just mind her own business and she is calling Sebastian’s name as she is fumbling with the cover of her flip phone and she leans down, expecting Sebastian’s face to be crushed and bloody but he is laying there looking up at her, exasperated, astonished. “Perhaps I should accept your kind offer. A little further up the road,” he groaned. “Dinner would be a very good idea.”