by Stephanie Silver
Chapter 1 - Jo & Lou's Truckstop Diner
Jenna Kaye looked across the hood of her 2003 Mustang GT, across the parking lot, to the entrance of Jo & Lou's Truckstop Diner. She twisted her mouth to one side, expressing her hesitation. She had just driven 1900 miles on hot, dry roads to get to this place. Of course, with air conditioning, leather seats and an AM/FM cassette and CD stereo system, hot, dry roads weren't nearly the discomfort they used to be.
For that matter, Jo & Lou's Truckstop Diner wasn't exactly the place it used to be. Parked near the door in narrow spaces specifically meant for motorcycles, were a handful of Harley Davidsons and other "biker" bikes. The rest of the vast parking lot was empty, including the long, wider spaces intended for the eighteen-wheelers that no longer stopped here on their way to Knoxville. Or away from Knoxville, if that was your preference. A few weeds and some grass growing up through the cracks in the asphalt attested to the fact that those spaces no longer saw much traffic.
Funny story about that, but I'll tell you later.
Jenna wasn't exactly dressed for a biker bar. She was wearing a long, loose skirt in an orange, black and brown zigzag design with a plain white tank top that did little to cover what was underneath. Thin cotton stretched tightly over feminine body parts has a way of revealing more than it hides. And whether it was the cold air from the air conditioner, or some slight arousal that only a closet-exhibitionist can fully understand, Jenna's feminine body parts were at full attention, taxing the tank top's ability to conceal to its very limit.
She glanced at the clock on the car's dashboard. Six thirty-two. Lucas wouldn't be there for another thirty minutes or so. Unless he was early. Since when had Lucas Mysinger ever been late for anything? So make it more like twenty minutes. For that matter, he might be there already, just as early as she was.
With her heart rate matching her growing anxiety level, she turned off the engine and went inside.
The bar was dark and cool compared to the heat of the parking lot. She paused a moment to let her eyes adjust. Or was it to gather up some more courage before continuing. "Am I okay here?" she asked the bartender as he came over near the door.
He nodded. "Sure, no problem."
Well, at least she had warned him. There was no way to know if he had really understood her question. She passed slowly down the bar toward an empty seat in the middle, eyeing the group gathered at the pool tables to her right. They looked like a lot rougher bunch than she was used to dealing with.
"What'll you have?" asked the bartender, whose name was George - pronounced Hor-he since he was from Mexico.
"Uh..." Jenna glanced up, expecting a menu like they would have at a fast-food restaurant, but didn't see one. "Do you have something... Can I just get like a mineral water? Or something?"
"Sure, no problem," said George. Jenna wondered what exactly it took to cause a problem for George.
He returned a minute later with a just-opened bottle of mineral water and a glass filled with ice and placed both on the bar in front of Jenna. "Thanks," said Jenna with a soft smile.
"That'll be a dollar-fifty," reminded George who expected more than just a grateful smile.
"Oh, right, sorry," said Jenna blushing. She reached into her purse to find some money. George, she noticed, took advantage of the moment to ogle her small breasts. Finding two dollars, she handed them to George and said, "No change." It seemed like a generous tip for no more work than he'd done, but Jenna was interested in winning over the bartender's good will. Finding herself in a biker bar made her uncomfortable, and she sensed it might be good to have some kind of ally.
She poured the contents of the bottle into the glass and then picked up the glass to move to another seat. Having her back to the room made her even more uncomfortable, so she decided to move to an open seat not quite at the end of the bar where it curved around and let her face most of the room. From there she could keep an eye on the group playing pool and still see the door. There was still a large dance floor behind her, but with only one couple on it, she felt comfortable.
A long time ago, Jo & Lou's Truckstop Diner was, indeed, a truck stop diner. Now it's a biker bar. The story is told of a trucker, Maynard Russell on his way home to Montpelier, Vermont, who stopped in one night for a cup of coffee, a slice of Jo's cherry pie, and some chicken-fried steak. The pie was actually made by Lou, but it just sounded better if they called it Jo's cherry pie. Maynard was a quiet man who didn't see any reason to cause trouble, and, frankly, felt that trouble should give him the same courtesy. He'd been driving for over sixteen hours and still had ten more hours of driving ahead of him. After the pie, his plan was to curl up in the sleeper on his truck and take a nice long nap before starting out again in the morning. With a little luck he'd be back in Montpelier for the weekend.
Unfortunately, trouble wasn't in a mood to let Maynard's life be that simple. Three motorcyclists rode in just as Maynard was ordering. Unlike him, they wanted trouble, and were determined that if trouble didn't find them first, they'd find it. They saw in Maynard an evening filled with pleasure and amusement. At first they just annoyed him with a lot of questions. Personal questions they had no business asking let alone any right to expect answers. Maynard did his best to ignore them.
Next they stole his hat. Actually, they just borrowed it, fully intending to give it back when they were through. But only after first using it for an ashtray. Maynard's ears burned with humiliation, but he continued eating without a word.
When that failed to get a reaction from the quiet truck driver, the bikers decided to sit down in the very same booth with him. They nudged his arm each time he tried to eat, causing him to spill his food all over the table and all over his clothes. They gave him his hat back, still with the ashes in it, and even helped him put it on, although they must have gotten confused because they put it on backward. They helped him season his food, adding extra salt and Tabasco sauce, just the way they thought he liked it. They poured his coffee over his pie. They pushed him and prodded him just as far as they could, to a point where most men would have finally lashed out in anger. But Maynard quietly got up, paid his bill, and left.
"That man ain't much of a fighter, is he?" suggested one biker after Maynard had left.
Jo shook her head. "No, I suppose not," she said. "Ain't much of a driver, either. Just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot."
Since then Jo died and Lou retired, selling the place to a couple of Laotian immigrants. They kept the name, but once the new highway was finished, the trucks stopped coming and it soon became a favorite watering hole for bikers. Now, thanks in part to Maynard, you're likely to get your tires slashed if you drive up in a truck.
Lucas Mysinger maneuvered his black and white Indian motorcycle into an empty space next to the other motorcycles and parked it. He knew about Jo & Lou's and found it odd that his friend, Jedidiah King, had suggested it as a meeting place. Jedidiah was a Mormon, who abstained from the consumption of alcohol, and several other unholy and impure practices. Frankly, a Shoney's restaurant or a Krispy Kreme just as the donuts were coming out would have made a lot more sense. He hung his helmet across the handlebars and went inside.
It took his eyes a few moments to adjust to the dark. Since it was still ten minutes before seven, he didn't expect to see Jed there, but you never knew. Unlike Lucas, Jed was known for being late. "You'll probably show up late for your own funeral," Lucas had once teased. A quick look around the room confirmed that Jed wasn't there. "Guess I'll wait," he muttered.
"What'll you have?" asked George to the customer who had just walked in.
"Uh, I'll have a..." Lucas caught himself just in time. He was about to order a beer, but remembered that Jed wouldn't approve of that. Ah, what the hell. He's the Mormon, not me, he thought. He's just going to have to deal with it. "Pabst Blue Ribbon," he said, "In a mug." He resisted the urge to add, "If you have any clean ones."
The funny thing about insults, whether you resist the urge to say them or not, is that the message still seems to get sent. George glared at Lucas for a moment as if he'd heard Lucas's unspoken comment and then turned to get the ordered drink.
"That'll be two-fifty," said George placing the mug in front of Lucas with just enough force to slosh a tiny bit up and over the rim. It was a practiced art.
Lucas handed over a five-dollar bill. While George got his change, Lucas glanced around some more. He didn't see an empty spot where he could watch more closely for Jed's arrival. There was one empty seat at the very end of the bar next to a cute blonde with small boobs, but Lucas wasn't that comfortable around girls, and even less comfortable around cute ones, so he decided to stay where he was. "Where the hell are ya, Jed?" he muttered into his beer.
Jenna felt her heart flutter at Lucas' arrival. That was a good thing, right? If he didn't make her feel all funny inside, then what was the point of driving all this way to see him again? He was... God, he was good looking. Still with those boyish good looks that had always appealed to her. He'd filled out more, put on some weight, but most of it, maybe all of it, was in the right places. She suppressed a tremble of delight at the thought of having his arms wrapped around her. She glanced down, suddenly very nervous. What would his reaction be to her?
Without looking up, she watched him out of the corner of her eye. Several times he appeared to look straight at her, but showed no signs of coming over. He continued glancing around the bar and watching the door, as if he was waiting for someone. Was it possible he didn't recognize her?
When it became obvious that he wasn't going to come over, she stood up. Abruptly. So abruptly that she was up and standing before she knew what she planned to do. Should she walk over to him? Say hello and introduce herself? For some reason she couldn't see herself doing that. But she was up and couldn't sit back down. Not without feeling like an idiot. Despite being clueless about normal barroom behavior, Jenna wanted very much to avoid looking that way. She turned decisively and walked over to the juke box.
Okay, that wasn't any better. Maybe it was even worse. Now she couldn't see Lucas at all. She pretended to read through the list of songs while she thought of a new plan.
When the cute blonde girl stood up, taking her drink with her, Lucas kept an eye on the chair next to her. If she didn't return right away, he'd move over and take it. He watched her out of the corner of his eye. Narrow hips, he liked that. He allowed himself a long, lingering look while her back was turned. He'd once been with a girl much like her. Perhaps if that other girl had been blessed with a cock instead of a pussy, it might have worked out better. Since then he'd either stayed mostly with gay guys or remained celibate. Allowing yourself to get attached to someone and fall in love just opened you up to a life of heartache, sadness and misery.
Lucas knew all about heartache, sadness and misery. He glanced down at his beer. If a tear had fallen into it at that precise moment it would have been completely appropriate.
He'd been in love once. With Jed, the person he was supposed to meet. What Lucas saw as the chance to live happily ever after with someone had disappeared when Jed left Mayville and moved back to Utah to live with his parents. Jed's parents had been on a mission for their church, leaving Jed to live with his aunt and uncle in Mayville, Tennessee. That's where he met Lucas. They'd been together all the time Jed was in high school and Lucas believed it would go on forever.
But Jed's parents returned from their mission, and after graduating from high school, Jed moved back to Utah to live with them and eventually went on a mission of his own. And he showed no signs of wanting to return to his previous lifestyle. One time, about nine years earlier, Lucas had looked up Elder Jedidiah King's address while he was on his mission and gone there to meet him. The greeting had been cordial but cool. Cold, even. A handshake? After all they'd done together as high school kids, all he got from Jed was a handshake? Elder King seemed a lot closer and friendlier with that other missionary, his companion, than he was with Lucas.
That's when he knew it was really over. Since then he promised himself he would never feel like that about anyone else again. And he hadn't. For nine years he'd kept his promise.
And now he was here, in a bar, waiting for that very same Jedidiah King to walk in. Why? What did they have to talk about any more? Jed had made it pretty clear that his religion was more important to him than anything Lucas might have to offer. "He probably wants to give me a Book of Mormon and ask me to get baptized," Lucas growled to himself.
If Lucas had bothered to answer his own question, he would have said that the reason he was there was because despite the fact that Jed had made it clear what he wanted, he was still the best friend Lucas had ever had. And when a friend asks you to do a favor, you do it. When a friend you haven't seen in nine years asks you to meet them somewhere, you go. "You don't show up twenty minutes late," he growled again after glancing at his watch and again at the door which continued to remain stubbornly closed.
I have to point out that, at this time, 7:02pm, Jed is only two minutes late, and not the twenty minutes Lucas is saying. And then I have to point out that Lucas is projecting an expected arrival time for Jedidiah, and not commenting on the current time. And then I have to point out that, technically, Jed isn't late at all. But... Well, I'm trying to build up some suspense here, so forget I said that last part.
Oh, you probably already figured it out, anyway. I have such intelligent readers.
"Hi," said the cute blonde girl, as she settled into the chair next to Lucas.
Lucas shifted uneasily. Girls made him nervous. He didn't look at her at all; he just kept staring at his half-empty glass of beer.
"Are you waiting for someone?" she asked. Lucas could barely hear her soft voice above the loud discussion taking place behind him at the pool tables.
"Yeah," offered Lucas, nearly matching her softness with his response.
"So am I," she said.
Lucas shrugged. That was a bit of a surprise. He was pretty sure she was coming on to him. She'd been watching him ever since he came in, and now she had apparently singled him out for some one-on-one attention. He imagined that she was there trying to get a date with someone. If she was, then she was going to have to keep looking. Lucas had no intentions of showing her any interest.
Neither of them said anything for a while. He because he was determined to ignore her. She because she was thinking.
"I need to go to the bathroom," she said at length.
So go then, thought Lucas. He made up his mind to change to another seat, that one in the corner, while she was away. He watched her walk away, enjoying the gentle sway of her departing backside. Yeah, definitely he could go for that, he thought. If she were a guy and not a girl, of course. He watched her hesitate noticeably at the entrance to the bathroom, finally choosing the one on the left.
Lucas kept thinking about the cute blonde girl and about Jed. He had only been in his new seat for a few moments when it came to him. "Shit," he muttered.
Jenna saw that Lucas had moved while she'd been in the restroom and paused, confused. There was an empty seat next to Lucas, but if she sat there she might look desperate. But if she sat somewhere else, she wouldn't get a chance to talk to the person she'd crossed half the country to see. Finally she went to the one spot where she could think without looking awkward - the juke box.
She'd been standing there for only a minute or two when Lucas came over. She'd barely had time to slow her thoughts down enough to start sorting through them. "I normally wouldn't... I just... Would you like to go somewhere?" he stammered.
"Okay." Perky. Excited.
"You better wear the helmet," he said as he guided her to where his motorcycle was parked.
"What about you?" she asked.
"I'll be fine," he assured.
Jenna pulled up her skirt with a glance back at the restaurant entrance. Nobody was watching. That was good, because she realized that in order to throw one leg over the seat she was going to have to pull her skirt up fairly high. "Try not to look too much," she said to Lucas with a grin.
He only looked a little. She was wearing sandals and her toenails were painted pink. Her legs were smooth and completely hairless. He liked that. He wondered if she shaved everything, all the way up. He wasn't a fan of shaved privates, though. He preferred to see a little bit of pubic hair there.
He helped her put on the helmet and then took the seat directly in front of her. She moved forward, lightly pressing her small breasts into his back and slipped her arms easily around his waist. As they raced away from the diner, she laid her helmeted face against his back, feeling content. The trip was finally worth it; this was all she'd ever really wanted.
Their route took them a few miles down the road to Mayville. They drove past the high school, with Lucas purposely slowing slightly as they did. From there they drove out to the old house out on Rupert Road, where Jed and Lucas had spent so much time working for Lucas's Uncle Leland and doing other things. Lucas slowed the bike down to a crawl, and for a moment Jenna thought he might turn in and park. But it was obviously owned by someone else these days, and not by Uncle Leland. There was a new SUV in the driveway, and some new trees and shrubs that hadn't been there before. The paint was new, too, although you could hardly expect a paint job to last eleven years. That's how long it had been since she'd last seen the place.
From there Lucas hit the throttle, sending the bike racing down the winding, twisting not-quite-gravel road and forcing Jenna to hold on for dear life. Not that she minded. Not at all. Back to Jo & Lou's. Back to the parking lot. Back to Jenna's Mustang.
As she took off his helmet, Jenna quietly asked, "So when did you know it was me?"