Follow the Flying Fish

The Death of Lucy Cotter

Chapter 1


            Marks of blood the shape of flowers cover the side of a chrome pay phone. Strange flowers, one beside another, drying under the sun. The old phone hangs on a gas station with weeds in the doorway and little windowpanes broken so long ago the shards of glass are gone. By the door a faded Indian in full headdress stands in peeling paint behind stripped gas pumps where a desert breeze moves through dusty metal.
            It’s quiet, the air, not a sound really, a current, and a cloud of smoke rides it, drifting through holes in heat-rotted boards, empty doorways, broken machines. Drifting across the receiver hanging by its cord from the pay phone, and the young woman against the wall.
            Lucy Cotter, sitting on the ground, arms and legs scattered around. Small streams of blood run from split knuckles, across fingers, into the black denim of her jeans and the dust of earth. Eyes, dark, empty, staring out of focus through the shifting shadows of light and smoke moving across the abandoned filling station.
            Numb, nothing crosses the void in Lucy’s mind. Feeling and thought vanished together, a waking coma holds the world distant, through a long tunnel. Struggle lies beneath the olive skin of that small body, the struggle of weakness at a mighty task, the struggle of a hand to brush aside a mountain, the struggle of failure to begin.
            Lucy’s trying to cross the void of her mind, trying to break the coma, trying to move, but the sound of drifting air, the taste of burnt metal on her tongue, the pain of split knuckles, nothing has a sharp enough edge to grab. This moment, this nothing, she can’t find a way out of it alone.
            “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try your call again,” says a recorded voice through the hanging receiver.
            It’s enough. Light, sound, the taste on her tongue, all come back with the warmth of oil in smoke. Lucy takes control, one bloody hand slips to the ground, steadying her as she stands. Hanging the receiver on its cradle, for a moment she holds it down, looking at the red flowers of blood where her fists met the phone. Looking at the black sleeve of her denim jacket. Feeling the smoke in thick layers through her black hair.
            Lucy’s disappointed in herself, she freaked out and tried to punch the phone off the wall. Disappointed because it was immature, and also because it didn’t work.
            It doesn’t matter right now, what matters is that she gets moving. Something’s coming, darkness near enough her heart can feel it. No one understands their own anger enough to tell what shape it can take. Lucy doesn’t know what’s coming, but it might be violent, like with the phone. Lucy has to get away from here before she does something stupid.
            Straightening her back she turns to the left, to her truck, a huge, pearl-white semi truck with a stream of withering smoke rising from the engine. Her truck, a Freightliner Classic, her life. All she has, all she is, the entire life of Lucy Cotter, that truck, dead beside the road, oil still dripping from the engine.
            Sounds of gravel beneath her black canvas shoes, Lucy hears it, mingling with the imperfect silence of the air moving slowly enough it’s not wind. Lucy hears herself crossing the open space toward the truck as a lifetime crosses her memory. The truck, the hundreds of highways, thousands of nights, days, weeks, months sheltered from the rain, sleeping in the back of that truck.
            Older memories follow, memories with the color of faded photographs. An image of Lucy’s father Gordon standing beside his old red truck, the Good Deal, on some long, empty road in Nebraska. Another image of Gordon at a truck dealership, standing between the Good Deal and the pearl-white truck he would soon name the “Cool Deal.” A final image of Gordon on a stretcher, a blanket over his head, EMT’s pushing him into a Dallas Hospital, the Cool Deal sitting out front.
            Still older memories follow, these so faded they seem to be in black and white. A small house under two large trees on a warm day with a child Lucy searching for something in the grass while Gordon and Nancy Cotter stand by the door with smiles.
            Nancy, kneeling beside Lucy, both their reflections in a mirror, Nancy telling her daughter she looks like Audrey Hepburn, Lucy almost pale with pride. Then a painful image, Gordon standing against a wall, weeping into his hands. Lucy holding the letter Gordon let slip to the floor, looking back at her father, confused, one hand on the telephone.
            The next image isn’t hard to remember, because it’s not a memory like the rest, it’s an actual photo from a newspaper. A confusing scene in ink and newsprint, a courtroom, Nancy Cotter wearing handcuffs, the arm of a police officer around her. Young Lucy behind a railing, to frightened to move, to frightened to scream. The eyes of Nancy low and creased so hard they draw the darkness of the ink. An amazing photo, because it caught the moment after Nancy spit on her daughter.
            Memories of Nancy Cotter make Lucy feel ugly. Her body feels, her heart feels ugly, and her Audrey Hepburn face feels ugliest of all.
            Darkness, darkness is near, carried on the air and the oil and the smoke. Darkness of memories and emotions Lucy can’t shut out. Years and years and years and still she can’t shut them out.
            Lucy has to get away from here, because if she freaks out again, she might do something to the truck, and the truck doesn’t deserve it. The truck never did anything wrong, but it’s here, and it’s helpless, and it represents Lucy’s life. Lucy has to get away, for the truck.
            Airbrushed letters, CD in red blazed across the pearl door. Steps, tanks, pipes of chrome, all tarnished for want of attention Lucy never gave. It’s a beautiful truck, people always said so, she never cared.
            Up the steps, into the sleeper behind the seats, Lucy shoves her life into an old army backpack. Pain is rising in her throat, sorrow twisting up until her neck aches and those dark eyes glisten with a warning of tears. But she won’t cry, she knows she won’t cry, Lucy never cries.
            Out of the cab, up between the truck and trailer, there’s a little red Honda motorcycle strapped to the back of the sleeper. A clever system Lucy didn’t design uses a chain hoist to lower the small motorcycle to the ground. Ingenuity and care provided Gordon Cotter.
            Lucy moves in a vacant rush, giving little attention to her work. The bike is down, backpack tied to the seat. Lucy puts on her sunglasses, turns to mount the bike, but stops. Reaching behind she lays one hand on the Cool Deal. She’s facing away, toward a long, brown valley rising in the distance to a ridge of broken rock mountains covered in small evergreens.
            Facing away from the truck, still she knows where her hand lays. Years of working that truck, servicing it as often as she could afford, cleaning it less often then she should, going over it’s entire being, feeling for weakness or fatigue in every part. Lucy knows the body of that truck better then her own, she’s touching it one last time.
            For a practical woman sentimental feelings are confusing, especially when attached to a machine. There’s no reason to touch it, no reason to stand there confused about the moment. No reason to say good by, only that she has to. But what does a practical woman say to a dead horse?
            “I’m sorry,” the words escaping dry from Lucy’s mouth, she mounts the bike, kicks the engine over, and rides away.
            Late morning air ripples through Lucy’s black denim jacket, through the short black crop of her hair, across black sunglasses and the tightening grip of her jaw.
            Familiar sounds of the Honda’s engine are strained, high and pinched. Lucy’s riding it too hard, too fast for the little bike, she doesn’t hear. Black ribbon of highway before her winding up through growing hills into the beginning of mountains, trees growing closer to the road, Lucy doesn’t see. Lines of light and shadow falling from rounded, cotton ball clouds high above, the Honda passing through warmth of sun and cool of shadow, she doesn’t feel.
            A world internal, searching somewhere inside for things searching can only confuse. Things that searching only makes impossible to find. The internal world is nothing new to this woman, a life lived years alone. As with many, silence increased her wisdom little, and this moment seems to be the same.
            Lucy’s not even looking for anything deep right now, only searching for a way to avoid that darkness she knows is coming. Running in search of light to turn on that sinister darkness creeping up in her mind.
            Some distraction, Lucy needs something to divert her attention. The truck, consider the Cool Deal. Lucy’s last sight of the truck was close up, a jumble of images, not a proper farewell view. If only Lucy had the courage to turn around, look at it one last time, a full, long, parting view to hold in her memory.
            Of course that didn’t happen, Lucy screwed it up, just like the truck, just like everything. Screwed up life, screwed up truck, screwed up… everything. All of it. Why? She knows why, because she’s an idiot. Because she can’t do anything right, least of all the simplest things, like keeping a schedule, saving money, and repairing the really expensive truck her father spent ten years buying, just so he could leave something for her. Took Lucy, what, two years to ruin it? To take security and occupation and livelihood and meaning, take it all and shit on it.
            Lucy feels her hands tightening on the motorcycle grips. So tight her split knuckles crack open and bleed again. Tension up her arms, through the shoulders, down the back, across hips and legs, she’s even gripping the little red Honda with her thighs. This is it, the darkness.
            Thinking of the Cool Deal, to distract herself from thinking about killing the Cool Deal, that’s so stupid it’s pathetic, and Lucy’s mistake molds her darkness into hate. It was probably going to be hate anyway.
            Lucy’s felt it before, when she knew the Cool Deal needed repairs she couldn’t afford. When she knew it while looking at the bottom of another whisky glass and someone in the bar made the mistake of speaking to her. When the truck broke down and she tried to beat her agony out of the pay phone.
            Hate, complete, absolute, for everything, mixing and burning into purified rage. Mankind, Earth, stars and the expanse of the universe, Lucy has rage enough to destroy them all, but the universe is safe, because Lucy will share with none of them. This thing inside her, this focus, was made in her heart, and only her heart can hold it, stabbing itself over and over again for the failure Lucy is to herself.
            Evil becomes Lucy’s body, winding out from that agony, that power source, along the most aggressive lines of her form, filling tendons and muscles with energy. Eyes narrow, shadowing the twisted world outside her direct view. Tunnel vision, hot, searing, vengeful dark eyes locked hard forward by stiff neck and shoulders. Feet like claws, fingers like teeth, teeth like steel.
            Lucy’s mind is a void with one single point of chaos at the center. A point of focused dementia swirling with colors of liquid iron as hatred consumes itself in molten fire. Lucy’s eyes, huge, dark, search viciously back and fourth, scouring every weakness and fault inside, hating everything found until hate drips from her mouth. Hating herself with such resolution and authority Lucy could command the mountains around her to tumble down upon the road, covering her forever.
            Oh, there it is, that’s what this is about. “Tumbling mountains,” some kind metaphor. Lucy can’t control the mountains, but she can control the bike. She can hurl the bike into the mountain bringing an end to this miserable self she hates so completely.
            Or, steer the little Honda into an oncoming car. To feel the bike fold in half, to feel her body in the air, to feel her fingertips sliding along the smooth metal of the car’s hood as her eyes meet those of the driver. To feel the instant of crushing impact as her body’s broken to pieces and falls dead to the ground. To feel peace.
            That’s what this is about, suicide. Well ain’t that fine, the road may be new but the rider certainly hasn’t changed. More then anything else, the one thing that pisses Lucy off about suicide is that she never does it. If a girl has to be so depressed, so worthless, pointless, aimless, that she’s going to contemplate suicide every time the thought pops into her head…. Know what? Fine! But do it!
            Aggravating; it comes up, Lucy can’t stop thinking about it, but she never does it. How ridiculous is that? At this point she’s pretty certain she won’t do it, she never has before, so if she’s not going to do it why does it stick in her head?
            More then anything, right now, Lucy hates herself for never committing suicide. Hates herself so much she wants to kill herself, and there she is right back at the beginning. So she can’t help but consider that the only way to stop herself from thinking about killing herself is to kill herself, and that’s about the stupidest thing she’s ever heard.
            Lucy swerves off the road and throws the Honda on the ground. She shakes her head as hard as she can to clear the pointless, irritating suicidal fantasy. Doesn’t work, still there. Closing her eyes Lucy shakes her head until the taste blood fills her mouth, shakes it so hard she falls on the ground.
            The world swirls as Lucy staggers to her feet. Still there, she can’t make the suicide go away, so she has to get away from the motorcycle. Clenching her fists, hunched over with hate, Lucy leaves the road for the wilderness.
            Soft rubber shoes grip the mountain as Lucy crawls up its side. Simple, canvas shoes, they work well for mountain climbing, Lucy doesn’t notice. Of course Lucy’s not paying attention to anything at the moment, focused only physical distraction. Mental distraction was an obvious failure, so at every slope she tries to clear her head with physical exertion, and at every slope she fails.
            Lucy’s movements are like trembling, the same meaning, but precise. Hands, arms, seem to dance, light, fast, prepared in a moment to move in any direction to bring any destruction. Potential, vicious, Lucy’s body now only the shape around the hate inside. If terror turns the dark pale, rage shows in the shape of Lucy Cotter.
            Covered in dust, panting from the climb, Lucy comes to a wall of stone. With that same vicious energy she slams her forehead into the rock, the force of the blow knocks her a few steps back. It’s that body, that body so light it seems to float, so light and fast it moves in the arch of a whip. Driven suddenly, easily in directions of brutality. Lucy has no control over that body… no, that’s not true, Lucy has perfect control over that body, precise, masterful control, unfortunately the mind consumed with rage has only evil designs for such a body.
            This time Lucy gets a running start at the wall. Sparks of light shoot across her eyes and Lucy begins to fall. Grabbing the rocks for support and leverage she slams her head into it a third time.
            Kneeling on the ground, Lucy’s breath comes a smooth rhythm, controlled breathing that may stop if she lets herself drift too far. Blindness a moment, then light opens in the dark, growing wider until the blurry shape of her hands appear. A needle point of sound in her head turns deeper in pitch until the soft hum of the natural world again fills her ears. Lucy blinks to focus her eyes, she almost knocked herself out, maybe she did.
            Trying to stand she falls back on the ground, still too dizzy. The suicide is gone, even the rage is gone. All she has is the ground before her and a dull throb in her forehead.
            Crawling on hands and knees through sand, Lucy slowly makes her way along the stone wall. Brown dust covers her hands, drying bloody knuckles. Dust settles through Lucy’s black hair, covering her knees and elbows and the black, ribbed tank top beneath her denim jacket.
            Finding a ledge of rock Lucy sits herself on it, looking out over the valley before her as sight returns more clearly to focus. Edged with shadows from small clouds above, noon sun throws soft light on a gray valley. The far side is a long ridge of stone grated with sediment lines leaning to the east and deep gutters from top to bottom cut by wind and forgotten rainstorms. Colors of amber and gold line shadows in crevices curling with the winding of dry rivers.
            Looking out on the valley Lucy knows the rage is gone, knows it because the valley is lovely. Rage would never let her enjoy anything but destruction. It’s gone, thank God.
            Touching her forehead Lucy feels a one-inch gash where the rock opened her skin. A line of blood runs beside her nose and mouth. Hands bruised, split knuckles dried with brown dust. Self destruction, she’s destroying herself. This is too much, Lucy’s tearing herself apart, she has to stop while there’s still something left, but then again, why?
            Why should Lucy stop destroying herself?  Why preserve anything? That question’s hard to answer because Lucy hasn’t even begun to figure out what she’s doing. The Cool Deal’s gone, her life as a trucker is gone, what now?
            It’s hard to be rational about anything when life has no direction, no purpose. To find a reason not to destroy herself, Lucy has to figure out what value her existence has. Life can only have value if something is being done with that life, something meaningful. Only if life has meaning can an angry mind be diverted from sinister plots against the body.
            Life keeps coming up, the idea of life. Not the biological function, but the person Lucy is, the person Lucy chooses to be. Beginning the idea over and over Lucy can’t finish it, can’t move beyond the words. Life, Lucy has a life, right?
            What is a life? It’s sort’a the product of choices made in the past. Past choices build a structure from which things like ethics, ideals, philosophy, ethos, and religion take shape. Life is who we choose to be, the most important statement a person can make. How life is lived, what’s done with life, these represent a person’s most strongly held beliefs. They should anyway, since the entire life is devoted to living them. Anyone failing to follow what they believe is not only deceiving themselves, but committing a crime against all others who do follow what they believe.
            Lucy wonders if perhaps the most important task in human existence is to form a system of ethics. Second only to that task would be following that system of ethics. They must be performed in that order, because following a system of ethics that is not ones own is the most rending of any torment for the soul. If Hell waits beyond the shadows of death, it’s a place where the acid of hypocrisy drips from the flesh.
            Suddenly, in the clearing haze of Lucy’s beaten mind, one thing seems clear, Lucy has to figure out her life.
            A horrible task, to analyze values in the midst of pain. It’s the worst possible time, demanding the most difficult questions of a mind in the poorest condition to answer. Ridiculous irony, that this is the time for such questions. Perhaps this is the only time these questions can be answered with any kind of meaning. How can one make an honest choice about life when surrounded by the comforts of a life already being lead?
            This is the worst time to do it, this is the only time to do it. Unless Lucy wants to go around beating her face against rocks the rest of her life, she has to figure out what to do with the years after twenty-one.
            The meaning of life? Rubbing her face, Lucy groans into her dusty palm. Stupid, to be asking herself questions baffling to greater minds while sitting filthy in the desert with nowhere to go. What she really needs to do is get a job. Get a job driving for some trucking company, rent an apartment, buy furniture, turn on the electricity. Settle down in one place, find a husband, have a kid, buy a dog.  That’s the practical thing to do, the responsible thing.
            Around Lucy the world suddenly seems very clear. Color and scent vivid, each sound a report of her surroundings. Lucy’s mind is working fast. What’s going on? Why is this happening?
            A dusty hand over her ribbed tank top, Lucy feels her heart racing, rushing blood though her body, to her brain, heightening her senses and the speed of mental process. Adrenalin, it’s a rush of adrenalin, but why?
            Fear, Lucy’s afraid of an apartment, of buying furniture and turning on the electricity, of a regular job bowing to superiors she’ll learn to hate because they’re petty and stupid. Afraid of stability.
            Running fingers through her hair Lucy considers the situation. Stability is more frightening then… what? What else could she do? Wander around looking for her own personal desires? Looking for meaning in her life? That’s childish. Perhaps then, the mature thing to do is overcome fear and rent an apartment? Why? Why is that the right thing to do? Kind of hard to figure out when Lucy has no idea what right and wrong really are.
            Lucy would need to understand the meaning of her life in order to justify settling down, right? More so, if she’s afraid to settle down, why not look for personal motivation, which isn’t scary at all? Because searching for the meaning of life sounds stupid, and irresponsible, and selfish.
            Why not be stupid, irresponsible and selfish? Because that’s immature. Why not be immature? Wait a minute, why is it immature to be stupid, irresponsible and selfish? Most people Lucy meets are stupid, irresponsible and selfish, and they never went looking for the meaning of life. Maybe they’re stupid, irresponsible and selfish because they never went looking for the meaning of life?
            Huh…. Maybe.
            Two options right now, number one, settle down, number two, search for the meaning of life. Settling down has the advantage of appearing, externally, like the responsible thing to do, even though it doesn’t seem responsible in the long run. The disadvantage is that it’ll probably lead to a life of drudgery waiting impatiently for old age and death.
            Searching for the meaning of life has the disadvantage of sounding irresponsible and stupid. It has the advantage of possibly bringing long-term happiness and settling all confrontations within the soul.
            Huh…. No matter how hard she tries, Lucy can’t obey the dominant preconception struggling to control her. Prejudice implanted by society over time, values Lucy learned from remarks made in passing by people around her, the exaltation of stable working and the devaluation of philosophical search, it all seems foolish. Lucy can’t make this decision based on what society thinks is the right thing to do, she has to do the right thing for herself. Right?
            Lines of cloud shadow move slowly across the valley caressing amber and red though textures of tree and land. Between Lucy’s legs the ledge of rock stretches into a cliff ended in mounds of rubble eighty feet below. Only a nudge to slip over the edge, dancing in golden light to the silence below.
            So easy to end a life, so hard to understand it. Perhaps… existence is an ultimatum. Figure out life, or die, either violently on the rocks or in the drudgery of stability without meaning.
            Lucy sits hard upright, suddenly the purpose of existence is very clear, meaning. Not the answer, but the question gives Lucy’s existence meaning. Searching for the answer gives her meaning. The search is her reason for being.
            The question doesn’t seem so stupid anymore, in fact, it seems kind of stupid to ignore it. Seems arrogant to ignore it, for to ignore it is to pretend to have the answers already.
            So many people pretend to have the answers, talk show hosts, political commentators, radio jocks, arguing about issues they don’t understand, never even trying to comprehend opposing ideas. People following the warped traditions of their fathers only because they never took the time to form an opinion of their own.
            With freedom comes responsibility, the responsibility to understand and exercise freedom. The responsibility to engage ideas and consider the consequences of our existence in this world and society. With freedom comes the responsibility to be free. To ignore that responsibility is the mark of a weak character.
            Lucy takes a breath of the strong pine air and makes herself a promise. God it sounds stupid to make a promise to yourself! Goals too, making a goal is just another word for making a decision. Why did making a decision become something less important then making a goal or a promise? Shouldn’t we have enough integrity to do what we tell ourselves to do? Lucy makes a decision; she won’t stop searching until she finds herself.           
            With all that purpose and drive spinning around in her heart, Lucy’s charged. Sitting on that rock is getting her nowhere, there’s a world out there to discover… no… there’s a girl out there to discover. Lucy Cotter, and it’s going to be a real ordeal finding her.
            Lucy stands. Closing her eyes she takes a moment to feel the wind from the valley, hear the quiet, smell the earth, then she starts back down the mountain.
            Fortunately Lucy’s own footprints lead back toward the road. Little but hate occupied her mind last time she passed this way, frightening how completely rage can blind. Tall evergreens surround her, smaller ones here and there. Some low, scraggly bushes, and little brushy plants growing along the ground.
            Difference between east and western mountains is the soft leafed-trees, no leafy plants here except some long, stiff tufts of grass. This is the sunrise edge of the Rocky Mountains, northern New Mexico. In the higher elevations there’s plenty of vegetation, but the ground is still broken rock and sand.
            If she ever took a walk in this kind of nature Lucy can’t remember doing it. Smells are everywhere, Lucy has a subconscious interest in smell, always exploring with her nose. Sand, fragrant dust hanging in the air even when settled, rich and luxurious bitter-sweet perfume of evergreens. It’s a wonderful place to be, wandering in the trees with so many muted colors and subtle smells, and even in the chaos of her life, the loss of her truck and the rage so recently survived, Lucy’s just about to feel good, but then she sees the cop.
            He’s standing by the little red Honda, his patrol car across the street, both thumbs hooked in his pants pockets to hold the weight of his arms. Looks like he saw Lucy before she saw him, he’s waiting beside the bike.
            Lucy has nothing against the police, she believes them a generally good group of people. She believes this because she wants to, not because they’ve ever been nice or helpful. Without police life would be more dangerous in general, everyone would have to enforce their own laws, that would lead to daily confrontation and for Lucy, it would mean a killing spree lasting from dawn till dusk for the rest of her life.
            Problem is, every time Lucy meets a cop it’s a negative experience. Confronting her about cargo, confronting her about logbooks, speed, signaling, parking. It’s always confrontation with the cops and it’s always highly aggressive from the cop’s side. What ever happened to “good cop, bad cop?” Lucy only meets mean, angry cops who have bulging veins in their necks. The good cops must be gone, maybe they’re all in the movies. Maybe they were only in movies in the first place.
            The only good cops Lucy meets are the ones who aren’t paying attention to her, but the cop standing by her bike is definitely paying attention, so she’s cautious. This cop is a lean man in his fifties who wears his clothes well. Shirt tucked in tight, his belt a clean line, pants pressed, shoes shined. Grey hair stands up in a curling wave, very handsome.
            The patrol car is parked well off the pavement, he had the courtesy to keep the roadway clear so other drives can get through. A distinctive saw-tooth pattern of his footprint shows he walked well up and down both sides of the road, and even into the trees, looking for the missing rider.
            “Hello Miss!” says the officer in a warm, masculine tone that could comfort an angry bull, but not Lucy Cotter. “I saw this bike on its side and thought the rider might be hurt.” Suddenly his entire posture is urgent, he sees something. “Are you okay?”
            Lucy gives the cop a long, hard look in the eyes, long enough to feel his discomfort, long enough to show him she’s not afraid of him, then turns to stand up her bike. “I’m fine.”
            “You have blood on your forehead.”
            Setting the Honda on its side stand, Lucy rubs the dried blood from her face, and turns to the cop. “I’m fine.”
            “You don’t look fine.”
            “Am I under arrest?” Lucy narrows her eyes at the officer.
            “Should you be?” asks the cop with the tone of a recording. It’s not something he says often, probably only said it because he’s confused by the situation.
            Lucy’s eyes narrow further, and the left one gets the faintest little twitch.
           The cop takes a more relaxed posture. “Funny,” he says in a familiar tone, obviously trying to start a more friendly exchange. “I just noticed, you look a lot like Audrey Hepburn,”
            Nancy Cotter is again forced back into the memories of Lucy. Her mother, Nancy, who used to say Lucy looked like Audrey Hepburn, but with a narrower jaw. Nancy Cotter, the source of all darkness in Lucy’s life, the woman who destroyed Lucy’s father. Lucy hates the cop for mentioning Audrey Hepburn, only for a moment though, she learned to let it go a long time ago, because everyone spots it on Lucy’s face, and that usually makes people mention Audrey Hepburn again.
            The officer sees he made a mistake, sees it in the crumbling composure of Lucy. He clenches his jaw and swallows hard.
            “I’m fine,” Lucy finally speaks.
            “Do you want to tell me what happened?”
           “I can help.”
           “Are you sure?”
            Shaking his head the cop takes a few steps back. “All right then, I don’t mean to hold you up. Have a nice day.”
            Throwing her leg over the Honda, Lucy sits, staring at the red gas tank. She’s being horrible. She’s in a foul mood, and cops are usually mean to her, but this cop, this guy is trying to be nice, and Lucy’s being an ass. Is this the kind of person she wants to be? If she’s searching for who she is, is this what Lucy wants to find?
            “I’m sorry for being rude,” Lucy says without looking at him.
            “It’s okay miss,” his tone somehow warmer then before. “You don’t have to apologize.”
            More, she has to do more. “This is a bad time for me, but I’m not in danger, I just need time to think.”
            A long pause, Lucy knows the cop is trying to say something, she waits.
            “Don’t you stop till you find what you’re lookin’ for.”
            Lucy turns to the cop, how did he know?
            “I know what it’s like to sit on a motorcycle, and it don’t matter which way you go.” The cop motions with his head, urging Lucy down the street, “The only way you can fail is if you give up before you find what you’re lookin’ for.”
            The smell of evergreen passes between them, and Lucy knows she was wrong. She was wrong about him, but he knows exactly who she is. How? Wisdom, wisdom comes with experience. This cop, this man went through the journey now before Lucy. He said a few wrong things, but figured her out, then said the exact right thing.
            “Thank you,” Lucy whispers, the breeze carrying her words to the cop’s ears.
            The officer smiles, nods, and waves good-by as Lucy rides away.


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