The Hitchhiker’s Pet Rescue

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When a green sedan pulled up along side me on one of the hottest nights
of the summer and the lady driving it asked if I wanted some candy, I said, "Okay." Before
she had a chance to say anything else, I was jiggling the handle. "It’s
locked," I told her. "Oh, gosh," she said, leaning over."Sorry
about that."

   Already my ass was sticking to the leather interior when I sat down, and I was going to suggest that maybe we should blast the A/C but didn’t want to be rude. She wore a red skirt and a white blouse and had blonde hair with chocolate stripes that, in the orange dusk, looked like it’d caught fire. I felt sorry for that hair.  I felt sorrier for myself, though, having recently moved back with my parents in the depressing suburbs where I’d grown up. More importantly, as we pulled onto the road, a breeze whipped through the windows and I became aware that this woman reeked of lemons and sweat. Rape me, I thought, putting on my seat belt.

   "Want to be in some movies, hon?" she said, tapping
me on the thigh, "along with your candy?"

   "Are you going to rape me?" I asked.

   She started fishing around for something inside her purse. The
veins on her hands were prominent, and I figured she was at least ten years older.
My boss at the hospital had told me that women, especially the older sort, loved
to be kissed on the surprise. Hold off, I thought, surveying her feet, which
were concealed by black pumps, or high heels? I always forgot the difference.
Why the hell wasn’t she wearing flip-flops? I just assumed all women wanted
to show off their toes in August. A few buttons were open at the top of her blouse,
though, and without making it too obvious, I caught a glimpse of the waterfall
of freckles falling into her cleavage. "There a gun in that purse of yours?" I

   She pulled out a Milky Way bar and handed it to me. "Thanks," I said, "I guess." 

   "Is that what you want?"   

   "Actually, I was kind of hoping you had a Snickers." 

   "No, that’s not what I meant." She chewed on the
insides of her gums, taking quick glances at the rear-view mirror, as if we were
being followed, and said, "Do you want me to rape you?" 

   My dick went hard. "Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world," I said.

   "Ever been raped?"

   "No." I decided not to return the question. It was not the kind of thing you’d ever ask a woman, this much I knew. The familiar houses passed by the window like some monotonous slide show from my childhood when the breaks screeched, and the seatbelt choked my chest. "Jesus!" I said,

"Ever been raped?" she asked. I decided not to return the question.

"you’re going to kill us." 

    "Look, hon" — her eyes were dollops of olive oil and suddenly I was relieved to be riding with someone sad — "you think you can do something for me?"

    I’ll do anything for you, I felt like saying, but didn’t want to submit myself just yet. Truth was, I could have ridden to California with this woman for all I cared; after all, one of life’s sweetest gems is when you’re lonely as an orphan and suddenly, as if in a snap of God’s gargantuan fingers, you’re sitting in the company of an attractive woman. "I’ll do something for you," I said, "if you do something for me."

   "I’ll think about it."

   My heart beat so loudly I actually worried she might hear it.

   "It’s my husband." 

   "Oh, great."

   "Actually, we’re pretty much divorced."


   "Oh yeah? And what the heck do you know about
divorce, huh?"

   "Hey, you’re the one asking for a favor, lady." What the hell was I saying?

   "I know, sweetie . . . you’re right." I liked that she called me sweetie. 

   I liked it when she eventually pulled onto a dirt road, shutting off the lights and engine as we rippled to a stop in front of a new house under construction.  We sat in silence for a moment before the crickets really started to rattle. The trees had blocked out the purpling sun, but the moon was full enough so that I could see silver bubbles of perspiration strung above her lip. I wanted to lick them dry. She started talking really fast: "All right here’s the thing, okay? This is all very simple. You do a big favor for me, and I’ll give you a hundred dollars cash. You can buy whatever — or I’ll bet in your high school there’s some pretty girl you’ve truly got your heart set to, am I right?"

   "Not exactly."

   "Hmm."The crickets had quieted down, as if they were
eavesdropping. "You’re not into girls?"

   "No, it’s not that."

   "What, then?"

   "I’m thirty, lady."

   "My God."


   "It’s just — you look like a boy. Anyone ever told you that? I mean, do you shave?"

"What’s this thing you want me to do?"

   "Well, shit. I was sort of hoping you’d be younger."

   "You want me to leave?"

   "Honestly?" She bit into a fingernail. "I’d prefer it if you stayed."

   The plan was for me to retrieve her dog from the back yard of her husband’s house. If it was her dog, why couldn’t she just demand it back? Divorce is very complicated sometimes. Big or small dog? Small. Dog’s name? Joey. Was this husband of hers by any chance a large, muscular, angry man? He used to play football in college, if that’s what you’re asking. Great. Not to worry, she was almost certain he’d be asleep, because he always took a nap after work. The dog? What, this all some joke to you, huh? Actually, I’m nervous as hell, lady. Don’t be scared, sweetie, she’d told me, trust me on this.  

   She dropped me off a few houses from her former home.

Maybe, I thought, I really was a kid.

walked casually through a patch of woods, careful not to break any branches,
until I could fully see the back yard and then the dog, tied up to a tree.
It was a pug. A pug tied up to a tree! No wonder she wanted it back. The

   The dog smiled when he saw me, panting and bouncing on his
paws. In the back of the house, the bay window had been lit up all lemony from
the kitchen light, illuminating a man and a woman eating at the table, probably
her husband and the replacement. They looked bored. "Hey, Joey," I
whispered, keeping an eye on the window, "be quiet, okay?" His tail
wagged frantically. I unhooked him. He didn’t try to run, he just licked my fingers,
on which I wondered if he could smell his mommy. 

   Earlier in the car, back on that dirt road, I’d proposed to Karen — or so she’d said her name was — that if maybe I didn’t want cash I could get something else in return, at which point she sank back on the seat and sighed, and a lifetime passed, it seemed, before she said, "All right . . . what do you want?"

   I was picking my cuticles, afraid to say it.

   "Look, we don’t have much time here. So if you’re going
to say something, you’re going to have to spit it out now." 

   "Do you mind if I lick your pussy?"

   "What?" she laughed.

   She turned away, and before I had a chance to revoke it, she said, still staring out her window, "Is that what you want?"

   "I guess."

   "You guess?"

   "Yeah. It’s what I want." 

   She slid over on the bench seat so that her thigh burned inches from my hand. "You guess a lot," she said, talking into my ear now. I got scared all of a sudden. "You want to lick my pussy, hon? Or you want me to rape you, is that what you want, baby, huh? You want me to violate you, young man?"

   "I don’t know," I said, squeezing her thigh now. It was a little soft, and for some reason that made me harder. 

   "You don’t know?" she asked, dropping a hand down my shorts. "Oh," I said, "Jesus."

   Suddenly, as if I’d offended her, she slid back to the driver’s seat, started the car, and drove further down the dirt road in the dark, loose rocks dinging the bottom of the car. I wondered if this had been some practical joke.  She turned off the car again, and we rolled into a pocket of the cul-de-sac protected by gigantic branches. She turned off the engine and instructed me to get into the back seat.

   I did. 

   She instructed me to lie back on the bench seat.

   I did.

   First, she stood outside the car unhooking her bra and managing to draw it free from her blouse, and, lying there from an upside-down perspective with my head at her legs, I imagined she’d learned this trick in a bus full of girls on their way to a field-hockey game years ago in high school, and how innocent that time had been for her, but that fantasy instantly vanished when she lowered a breast to my face. I sucked the nipple like a newborn.

   She giggled.

   "What’s wrong?" I said.

   She ignored me, and in one swift move she stood outside the car again and reached up under her skirt to remove her white panties. Maybe, I thought, I really was a kid. With her skirt still intact, she climbed over me, straddling my chest and facing my feet, giggling at first, and then all serious as she backed up her cunt to my face. She was a cedar forest into which I drove my tongue. She began to use her mouth and hand to summon the semen out of my dick.

   "God," I said, suddenly blind with delirium. My hips froze, and it wasn’t long before I moaned into the night with an ecstatic agony.

   "You’re sweet," she said, sitting on the bench seat beside me now, her legs crossed.  

   "What’s wrong?"

   "Hon," she said, her face all crumbling with tears, "if you only knew."

   "Just tell me then."

   "Want to hear the short of it?" she laughed, "Here’s the thing, okay? Lately, I keep thinking of ending my life, I really do. And I’m not pulling your leg, mister, you know? But the thing is, I’m too afraid to do it. So how about them apples, huh?"

   I didn’t know what to say without sounding condescending, so I grabbed her hand and said, "Oh, everyone’s got apples."

   She burst into tears.

   "Hey, it was a joke," I said, prying her hands from her face. I kissed her on the lips, then cupped her chin like some boyfriend in the park with his girlfriend. "Look, I’ll get your dog back. I promise."  

   Joey wouldn’t stop licking my damn palm. "Stop it," I
demanded. He refused. I carried him in the exact direction in which I’d come. All had gone perfectly, that is, until I saw the green sedan idling on the far side of the

His body was like a giant heart beating against my chest.

yard. "Dammit," I whispered. The last thing I could do was wave idiotically for Karen to back up the car, and for all I knew, the husband had already seen me, and I instantly I thought of my mother, who, only a mile away, was probably sitting in the kitchen buttering a piece of bread and listening to some evangelist preach to eternity from within her portable cassette player when I heard a window being thrown open, and then a woman saying, "JOE-eeeh . . . JOE-eeeh."

   Joey wriggled. I covered his face so as to stifle the panting.  

   "JOE-eeeh . . . JOE-eeeh."

   Joey barked, as if to say, "Over here!"

   Suddenly, I was covered by an outside light.

   "Drop the dog, and slowly walk away." A tall guy in shorts had come out from the garage side, and now stepped toward me, pointing a rifle. 

   My teeth began to actually chatter. 

   "I’ll say it again: drop the dog, and slowly . . . walk . . . away."

   "I’m taking the dog, man."

   "Drop the dog, and slowly . . . walk . . . away."

   "I’ll slowly . . . walk . . . away, but I’m taking . .
. the . . . dog." 

   Joey licked my chin as if to say, "Good one." His body was like a gigantic heart beating against my chest.  This guy won’t shoot me, I decided, no way — wouldn’t risk hitting this little dog.  I ran. 

   He shot me. Joey and I crashed onto the grass, my leg buckling. "Sweetie!" I heard Karen say, and I limped to the car without hearing another shot. Joey hopped onto her lap and started lapping at her face. "Sweetie, he shot you!"  

   I’d barely shut the door as the car lurched forward, the tires squealing pathetically.  

  "Really? I hadn’t noticed." 

   She let out a wild cackle.

   My leg had gone lifeless now, and I had to throw up all of a sudden. "Oh my God," I said. "I don’t think I can feel my leg." 

   "Don’t worry," she said, the high beams illuminating the trees. "I’ll take care of you, I will."

   I grew wickedly scared. "Pull over," I said. "I
have to puke!"

   "Sweetie we don’t have time I have to get you to the hospital you’re really bleeding now."

   "Okay but I don’t want to throw up all over your car which is why you really should pull over like right now!"

   "I will not. You just have to breathe. It will go away
you just have to think happy thoughts."

   "Oh, God," I said, my eyes all wet. "I can’t
believe the fucker shot me."

   "That’s not happy." 

   The trees flickered past, their hefty leaves applauding us
onward, it seemed, and I tried to breathe, afraid to look at the wound. Then
Joey barked. And I saw Karen and him and myself sitting on the grass under some
big old tree with a bottle of wine and a basket of cheese and fruit in some park
and suddenly the nausea faded.


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©2004 Tom

Tom Lombardi’s fiction is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Quarterly, and has appeared in Fence,, and Opium. His website is