Jan/Feb 2014  •   Fiction

Like I Was Waiting

by Jenny Hayes

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream

When D said we should drive up to Canada for the night it was already four o'clock. Two hours to the border and they stopped us at the checkpoint and searched the car which kind of sucked but it was fine since D always made a point of never keeping drugs in his car and anyway it was my car. After they let us through, I took a wrong turn, taking us off the freeway to Vancouver and onto a big street, but the signs said we could still get there that way, so I just kept driving. We passed through fields and neighborhoods and the sun was going down and at one point we went over this bridge I was pretty sure was in The X-Files because I knew they filmed it around there and I watched the reruns all the time like while I was waiting for D to come over or after he was already passed out for the night but I knew he wouldn't care so I didn't bother to tell him. D said I'm tired of being in the car let's just find a place to stay somewhere and a few minutes later I saw a motel that looked okay. We got a room and then we walked around a little to see what else was there but it was just strip malls and gas stations and tiny houses and schools looking like jails. We found a thrift store and D tried on a shirt that looked cool but had a big hole in the armpit. Then we ate Chinese food in a restaurant that was practically empty. Then we went to the motel bar which had a 50s theme like a diner like a retro diner with a real old Cadillac in the middle of the room cut in half with purple couches where the seats used to be and I wished we could sit in the car but there were people in it so we sat on regular barstools and drank watery cocktails. We would've played pool but they didn't have a table so we were gonna hit the grocery store and get beer for the room but what we didn't know was in Canada you can only buy beer at special places and the one nearby was closed. So we got in bed and watched Canadian music videos and fooled around and went to sleep but I couldn't sleep and I figured since it was a different country The X-Files wouldn't be on but it turns out they got the same Seattle stations so it was. But it was the one with poison bees and I'm already scared of bees because I've never been stung and it seems like it would hurt and if you died that would obviously be worse so I turned off the TV. I got up and sat in the chair by the window and looked through the curtains at the parking lot like I was waiting for something to happen. Once in a while a car drove by but no one came in or out of the motel. I kept thinking I'd see something and I tried to stay up for it but then I sort of fell asleep so I got back into bed.

In the morning we drank some coffee and D drove us into the city past the golfball-looking Expo thing and on into downtown. We didn't know what to do and we went into a vintage store in the basement of some building but it was lame and overpriced and then D said someone told him there was better stuff a few blocks away so we walked over and looked at expensive shoes and went into a t-shirt shop and passed by some stripper clubs and there were hotels around and D said this is where we should have stayed as if I should have known. I kept thinking you're the one who's been here before even if it was when you were like fourteen with your parents but I didn't say anything. He said let's go and we got back in the car and drove across some other bridge I didn't recognize from anywhere and the new area seemed cool like quiet but still cool and there was a place that looked good for lunch but D wasn't hungry. So I went to get a candy bar because I heard they're all different like English or something or maybe just Canadian and I got a Coffee Crisp which was really good and also a Mr. Big to bring back as a souvenir but then D ended up eating it and he said it was just okay. We went into a record store and D went to the upstairs part and I found that thing where you can put on headphones and hear songs from different bands so I just did that for a while. And then I went upstairs to look for D but it was empty except for the guy who worked there who was blond and kinda scruffy in a way that looked all right and I pretended I was browsing because I thought it would look stupid if I went all the way upstairs and then just turned around. He asked where I was from and I said Seattle and he said he used to live there so we started talking about our favorite places and he said what are you doing here and I said I came up with my boyfriend D even though he's not really my boyfriend or at least we never talk about it but we see each other all the time so I mean he pretty much is. Then I said maybe you know him from when you lived in Seattle because they seemed like the kind of people who would have known each other but he shook his head no. He asked where else we'd been and he said let me write down some more places you should check out and he made a list on the back of a flyer for a reggae night. Then he asked my name and wrote down his number and said to call him if we came back sometime and wanted to hang out. His writing was hard to read but it looked like his name was Blixo which I thought was sort of cool and I wondered what his real name was. He came out from behind the counter and I said I better go find my boyfriend now and he held his arms out and said well give me a hug and I said okay even though I just met him but I mean he was really nice. And then we were hugging and he said what no kiss? And I didn't really even mean to but it was like an automatic reflex and it was just going to be a peck you know a nice little nothing peck but then he turned my head and got his tongue into my mouth just for a second and I know that sounds gross but it was actually okay I mean to be honest it was kind of nice how it just darted in and out like a wet hello. I figured it didn't matter because no one else was around even though I knew it wasn't normal or okay or anything like that but I still figured it didn't matter. So I said okay well bye and went downstairs and D was standing by the door and he said there you are like all annoyed and I was like I was looking for you and he said well now you found me and he walked out and I followed him and I told him about the guy upstairs and how he wrote down places for us to go and wasn't that cool? D was quiet and I was like what he was really nice. He stopped and crossed his arms and shook his head and gave a sigh. He said man I know that guy that guy's a dick.

So that was Canada. I mean there was a little more to it like driving back to the border and sitting in a line of cars and finally getting to a guard who snapped out questions: where is home what did you buy what were you doing there? I said romantic getaway and D let out a sound like a psssssh. Irritated air that couldn't come out fast enough. I think the guard heard him and he probably didn't want to get into the middle of that so he just let us through. I was ready for D to say something about it but he just put his head against the window and went to sleep so I drove us down I-5 and it was getting dark and it was kind of nice and quiet you know? Too cloudy for stars but I pretended we were somewhere far away just the two of us a getaway for real like where we talked and walked and just spent time together. It was nice imagining that but then D sort of coughed and drooled a little and I looked at him and he was still asleep and then before I knew it I got annoyed and I felt like this trip was a stupid idea and on top of it all I didn't even have that Mr. Big candy bar or any souvenir. All I had was a hotel receipt and the flyer Blixo wrote on and I wondered if maybe I'd go visit him sometime by myself even though he might've just been trying to mess with D when he said that stuff and when he kissed me but even if he was I don't think I'd really mind. Because when I looked at D again all I could think was what am I even doing here? Or I mean it's my car so I guess it's more like what is he even doing here? And I knew there was probably an answer to that question maybe one that even made sense but I had no idea what it was.