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Loner: On The Rode- Iris's Shop
Lalo couldn't help but steal as many glances at Hunter as he could. Hunter just looked so damn peaceful when he slept, not to mention so damn hot. Lalo reached out a hand towards Hunter but stopped himself, remembering Hunter's words.
"I'm not sure where you and me are, right now, Ga—Lalo, but I trust you much more than them," Hunter had told him when he asked.
Lalo drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he turned into the gas station at the rest stop. It was sometime close to midnight and pitch black out there on the highway. He had no idea where he and Hunter were. He shook Hunter awake. "Wake up, man," Lalo said softly.
Hunter woke with a start, at first not knowing where he was or who the guy was next that sat next to him. He shook his head a few times and finally everything came back to him. His family's lies. His running away. He sat up fully and whispered groggily, "Where are we, Lalo?"
Lalo shrugged, "You got me. Somewhere right off 10. I don't even know the name of this place."
Hunter looked at the small gas station and shop. "Okay, Lalo, we're in the middle of the desert. It's . . . what time is it?"
"Midnight somethin'," Lalo answered opening the door.
Hunter grabbed his arm, "You aren't seriously gonna try to get gas from . . . here." He looked at the three other dilapidated pumps and the ramshackle that posed as a shop.
"Where else, Hunter? We need gas. This is a gas station," Lalo rolled his eyes.
"Yeah but look at where we are, Lalo. Middle of the desert surrounded by empty farmlands. It's the middle of the night and pitch black. We're the only people around other than these backwoods farmers living pretty much by themselves," Hunter looked at the ramshackle again, "This place just screams horror movie."
Lalo laughed, looking pointedly at Hunter, "Backwoods?"
"You know what I mean," Hunter said softly. Lalo opened his door and started to get out of the car. "Wait!" Hunter almost yelled, "You're not leaving me in here alone." He got out of the car and jumped when he and Lalo shut the doors. He didn't expect the sound to be so loud.
Hunter quickly went around the car, standing next to Lalo who seemed to be entranced by the sky.
"Look at the stars Hunter," Lalo said quietly, "They're so beautiful."
Hunter looked up, he too got caught up in the view. There were just so many, and it had been a long time since he had last gazed upon a night sky as clear and expansive as this one.
A bright light both blinded them and brought them out of the reverie. "Could I help you two?" came a very light voice. After their eyes got used to the light, they saw the small old woman in blue jeans and a bad wig with her hands on her hips. She took something out of the pocket of her shirt and started chewing on it. "Want some gum?" she asked, now sound a lot more gruff.
"Sure," Lalo answered quickly, going up to the woman and taking a piece of the gum. "Thanks."
"You're friend don't want any?" the woman asked looking around Lalo to the taller and thinner blond boy. She leaned into Lalo, "He looks a wreck."
"We been through a lot today," Lalo explained. He held out a hand, "Lalo."
"Iris," the woman shook his hand. "You need gas?"
"Yeah," Lalo nodded. Iris turned and walked into the ramshackle which surprisingly was very clean and "modern" looking on the inside. She noticed Lalo's reaction. It was everyone's reaction. She kinda liked it. They saw the outside and were immediately thought the gas station was creepy.
"I figured," Iris began, "Why make the outside of the shop so very nice out here in the middle of nowhere. Just more money to spend that I don't have, and with the winds and dust, it'd just be too much to try to clean the outside." She looked outside where Hunter still stood next to the pump and the car. "Your friend isn't a people person, is he?"
Lalo glanced at Hunter and frowned, "He used to be."
"Your boyfriend?" Iris smiled turning on the register and rest of the lights to the shop. Lalo was caught off guard for a moment. He really didn't know how to answer that question. He just looked at Iris nervously.
"I'll take that as a yes then," Iris smiled again and asked, "How much gas you need, Lalo?"
"He's not sure," Lalo answered. Iris raised a brow. Lalo chuckled softly, "Sorry. That's the answer to your first question. He's not sure about . . . us. I need to fill `er up." He handed her the money.
"Okay," Iris nodded.
Lalo went to the door of the shop and called out to Hunter, "Hunter, could you fill up the tank?"
Hunter nodded. He counted along with the numbers as they spun, increasing the price and gallons of the gas that went into the car. He looked at Lalo, standing in the shop talking to Iris. Part of him saw his old best friend – the guy with whom he shared his first kiss so that he would be ready when he took Martina Cross to the dance in 7th grade. Another part of him just saw a liar, the guy who broke his heart, but then he finally saw the one person who yearned to and had told him the truth. He smiled at that, and then watched as Lalo asked Iris something. She pointed over to the freezers. Lalo went in one and picked up two cases of beer. Beer?!, he thought to himself. They couldn't drink! They were both underage. The pump clicked and stopped. Hunter returned the nozzle to its holder and slowly walked into the shop.
"—glad you got somethin better," Iris was laughing when Hunter came into the shop.
"Yeah well, I like your suggestion better, tho I still gotta have my Corona," Lalo responded.
"It's finished," Hunter said softly.
Iris was both surprised and happy to hear the boy whom Lalo had called Hunter speak. "Well hello to you to, Hunter," she smiled and gave Lalo his change. Lalo picked up the case of corona and two bottles of wine in the bag on top of them. Hunter felt and nice lurch in his groin upon seeing Lalo's biceps flex as he carried the alcohol.
"Hey, I never asked where you to are headed," Iris threw in as Lalo and Hunter made it out the door of the shop. She had already turned off the register and the lights to the shop.
"San Francisco," Lalo answered.
"Well you have a long drive ahead of you. Make sure to get some rest," she said in that light voice again.
"We will," Lalo smiled.
"And no drinking and driving!" Iris answered, her gruff tones coming back.
"Yes, ma'am," Lalo nodded. Hunter opened the door to the backseat and Lalo put the stuff in the car. Hunter got in the passenger seat. Lalo got in the drivers seat. "Buckle up," he told Hunter softly. Lalo started the car and Iris shut off the over head lights, walking back to her house behind the shop.
Lalo had only made one turn and now he drove down the long dirt road.
"I thought you said we were right off 10," Hunter mused.
"Well we're about twelve miles off of I-10," Lalo explained.
"Twelve miles?!" Hunter exclaimed.
"That's what the sign said for the rest stop. And see, the two of us – alone in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night, and nothing happened at all," Lalo smiled.
"Yeah well, you gotta admit that place was creepy," Hunter looked out the window. "I don't like being out here in the middle of the desert. It's just too empty."
Lalo nodded, "I agree." He reached down below his seat and found a small case of CDs. He put the CD in and it immediately began playing.
Hunter looked at Lalo with a raised brow. "What is this?" he asked in response to the orchestral score and tribal singing.
"Adiemus," Lalo answered. Hunter raised his brow even more. Lalo shrugged defensively, "It's relaxing. I like to listen to relaxing music when I gotta drive long distances. It calms me down."
"Whatever," Hunter shook his head.
"Whatever my ass," Lalo chortled and added with a smile, "Hand me a beer."
"You can't drink and drive!" Hunter looked at him shocked, "I don't know how you bought that beer anyway."
"Well Iris asked me how old I was and I told her twenty," Lalo explained. "So I'm only nineteen," he defended himself, "Twenty's only a year away, plus even if I was twenty she'd still be selling alcohol to a minor." Hunter just glared at Lalo for a moment before a small smile crept out. He ripped open the cardboard box and got out two bottles of Corona. Lalo handed him an opener. He opened the two beers and handed on to Lalo. Lalo watched out the corner of his eye as Hunter chugged the whole bottle down. He looked at Hunter in surprise.
"You're not the only one who drinks," Hunter responded and followed that up with a loud belch. He leaned his seat back so that it was almost flat. "Wake me when it's sunny huh?" he asked, belched, and quickly nodded off to sleep.
"Sure," Lalo replied, taking another swig of beer. He sang along with Karl Jenkins's made-for-song language and continued down the empty highway.
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