Written by: Collette Cottingham; Boot Hill
I had seen her before, but I didn’t know where. Her voice is what caught my attention. I knew the voice. I turned to glance, but seeing her didn’t answer my question. It will pop into my mind in the middle of the night, when it doesn’t matter anymore. She didn’t seem to recognize me at all.
Oh well, I am here to relax; life has really got me down lately. I need this long weekend alone to check out for a while, which is how I ended up at this lodge high in the mountains. I am surrounded by beauty. This evening they are offering a BBQ to welcome guests for the weekend. The lodge is much more crowded than I expected. The web page said quaint and quiet. I see neither. I am trying to enjoy my wine and the view. People keep blocking the large floor to ceiling windows. If I look up I can enjoy the tops of the pines. Then there is all the noise. I can’t even clear my head. I walked into the restroom, great; three women are doing lines of cocaine. Okay, that’s it, I am out of here.
I am back in my car headed for the open road. It is dark, but I am very grateful the hotel only charged me for tonight. Even though I am not staying, it could have been worse. Oh lovely, a train at this late hour.
“Don’t freak out, okay?”
“Ahh!!! What the hell!!! Who are you and what are you doing lying in the back seat of my car?”
“Look straight ahead, do you see anyone watching you?”
“No, it’s dark out, why would anyone be watching….”
“I want you out of my car.”
“I can’t do that.”
“What, no, you need to get out.” I am filled with panic. I am alone in the mountains. I have a strange woman in my car.
“No, I need you to drive me to Pendleton.”
“Pendleton is four hours in the opposite direction.”
“I know. Please, you are my only hope of survival. Don’t you remember me?”
“Yes, but where do I know you from?”
“We worked together at the coffee house a few years back.”
A few years – it had been more like 10. I had graduated college and now had a good job in the corporate world. I decided not to say anything. I didn’t want to give her too much information. “Yes, the coffee house.”
“We will have plenty of time for chit-chat later, drive towards I82, and pull over at the auto shop.”
“We don’t have time for questions. Do you see the burn barrel?”
“Put this bag in there and then light the barrel with these.”
“Oh God, is this illegal?”
Sort of, what kind of response was that? Well it worked, I am putting a cell phone, clothes, and identification into the barrel and setting it ablaze. Why does she want to erase who she is?
“It is done.”
“Now, head towards Pendleton.”
She is lying naked on the floor of my backseat. I can tell she is putting on new clothes. “You know you can sit in the seat.”
“No, I can’t be seen.”
“What is going on?”
“The less you know the better.”
I can’t argue with that. I heard a snipping sound. I glanced back, “Why are you cutting your beautiful hair?”
“I have to become someone new.”
“Your beautiful long curly hair, I would kill for hair like yours…will not literally.” I better watch my choice of words.
“Yah, well I have to do this every few years. I have to stay one step ahead of life. When I think they are getting close I have to move, change my looks, my identity, and my job. I don’t know where I will end up. I can’t make friends or let anyone get to close. When I saw you tonight I knew now was my chance.”
“Yes, that is why I didn’t recognize you, I knew you as a brunette with blue eyes. Your name is Angela.”
“I was Angela at one time. Just call me that, I need you to stop at the next exit. I have to get rid of this hair.
I disposed of the hair and gassed up. Angela didn’t want anything from the gas station. She just laid in the back of the car. When I opened the car door, cash was on my driver’s seat. I gave the money back to Angela. I didn’t need it.
Time passes quickly when you have someone to visit with, we talked about movies, music, games, and things that made us laugh. We avoided any discussions regarding the intimate details of our lives. Before I knew it we were in Pendleton.
Angela had me pull over at an old Victorian house. She grabbed her bag and thanked me for being her life-savior. She then closed the door and walked away as the sun began to rise. I pulled away and decided to drive home. I began to reflect on this bizarre evening. I started my journey with a young polished woman in my car. The woman that left had a crop cut and facial piercings. Which I think were fake.
I continued on my way, thankful for my crazy, busy life. I have the opportunity to have friends, love, animals, a home and well…a life, thank you Angela.