Dennis dropped into The Log Cabin Bar on State Highway 6 like he did most Friday nights. He was drinking heavy and cutting up with a couple of the girls, he didn’t know, who were working the room. The dark-haired one introduced herself as Darla. The redhead claimed her name was Eleven. He wasn’t sure if he could believe her or not.
The night was getting on and, after a time the girls quit competing with one another. They offered him a cut rate if he wanted to have a threesome, but he would have to pay for the hotel room. He agreed, immediately, and slugged down the rest of his drink, and grabbed a handful of peanuts from the little green plastic bowl that Sweeney made available on the bar to keep his customers thirsty.
The Y-Knot Motel was a couple doors up the road. They offered about ten cabins and sweet rolls in the mornings. It was private and Dennis opted to leave his truck in the lot at the bar so he could walk to the motel with the girls, who were gathering their bags and wraps as he went to settle the tab with Sweeney.
“Listen, Dennis,” Sweeney clasped his elbow and leaned in to whisper, “Are you fixing to leave with those two women?”
Dennis slowed down a bit and nodded his head. He kept his mouth shut.
“Those two are trouble, man. That Darla, she’s got a regular customer around town who can be a bit possessive. He’s a hardass. You might want to leave her here and just go with Eleven. You know?”
“Thanks for your concern, Sweeney. I reckon I can handle myself. We’ll be OK.”
It was Sweeney’s turn to nod before he turned and ran Dennis’ credit card. Bout that time the girls caught up and he offered each an arm and they sauntered out the front door. There was a big rig parked on the Highway. An 18 wheeler. The whole scene was backlit by the bright lights of the gas station across the street. A man leaned against the passenger side of the truck. The man wasn’t tall but he was big. Barrel chested, with a bull neck, he looked solid. Dennis and the two girls stopped.
“Darla,” the big man said, “why don’t ya’ll just git on back home now?”
Darla’s eyes got wide, “John, I’m working. You should just get home and I’ll see you when you come through again next week,” she pulled on Dennis’ arm to get him moving again. “Let’s go!”
The man she referred to as John continued on as if he hadn’t heard, “Eleven? Is that you? Does your momma know what you’re doing? You prolly oughta run on home too.”
Eleven said nary a word, she just stared down at the pavement. Dennis let the girls slide off his arms and held his hands up in front of himself. He turned to Eleven. Put his hand on her shoulder.
“’Scuse me just a minute, darlin’,” he turned to Darla; said the same thing.
He turned back to John and Darla blurted out, “You gonna talk to him, man? How ’bout you ask him if his wife knows what he’s doin’? Huh? Her name’s Kylie or Kayleigh or something like that. How ’bout it John? What’s Kayleigh think ’bout you ‘sociatin’ with the lot lizards up here in Emily? Huh? What’s she think about that?”
The air grew still and quiet. The only sound was the diesel running smooth and calm. It was John’s turn to be silent. He stared at the three people in front of him. No one was moving. Then he turned and walked around his cab. Dennis heard the driver’s door open and close. He saw John climb behind the wheel and put his rig in gear. They all watched him pull away, northbound on State Highway 6. They watched his taillights move further and further away ’til they faded from sight.
Eleven broke the silence, “He’s right. I oughta go home and check on Momma. She’s been doin’ poorly lately. I should get back.” She started walking towards the back of the lot.
Darla said, “Sorry, Dennis, I just can’t do this now.” She gave him a peck on the cheek and headed for an old Hyundai Accent that she had parked one row over. She made her way to the car and climbed in. The car started before she rolled down the window, “How ’bout you, Dennis? You got a wife somewhere?” She buzzed the window back up and headed away.
Dennis watched her pull out of the lot, he didn’t answer her question. He scanned for Eleven but she was nowhere to be seen. He was standing alone in the car park of The Log Cabin Bar. It was late, he was alone and too drunk to drive. He trudged in the direction of his pick-up. Good a place to sleep it off as any.