Bite-Sized Story #1
Night Moves by Marcia Richards
Ali counts the minutes.
11:36. Her shift is nearly over. The golden neon arches’ glow creates a halo in the fog. For a second she wonders…no, it means nothing. People who do what she has planned, don’t become angels.
11:39. Ali is aching to leave now, but she owes it to her manager to finish out the night. She works her rag, wiping up the grimy stickiness her customers left behind. Just a few more tables.
11:42. She waits for the old man and his wife to finish eating. Through the fingerprinted doors, she has a view of the riverbank, just twenty feet beyond the dumpsters. The muddy water is running fast tonight; the rushing roar competes with the piped-in music. She’ll soon be able to slip away without fear of anyone stopping her; she won’t have to go back to her dreary rented room ever again.
11:46. The rumble of choppers takes Ali back to the night her parents died and resurrects the guilt. The garish red and yellow dining room comes to life as the bikers burst through the doors, bowlegged from too much time on their Harleys. They smell of oil, fresh air, and leather; their long hair is matted from perspiring under their helmets. A pair of blue eyes glance in her direction. Ali notices, then turns away self-consciously.
11:51.They devour their greasy burgers, laugh too loud and swear too much. The old couple stands, shake their heads and turn their backs on their half-eaten meal. The wife clasps her handbag tightly to her chest, as her husband steers her out the side door. Ali smiles, sensing there is nothing to fear from the blue-eyed one.
11:57. With elbows resting on the condiment counter, she closes her eyes, feels her breasts pressed against his back, her arms wrapped tightly around his solid chest. He lays his right hand on her thigh and the night wind stings her cheeks and draws tears from her eyes as they glide along the asphalt. Her daydream tempts her to rethink her decision, but she knows in her heart there is no other way to atone.
Midnight. Ali’s eyes fly open; she curses. It’s time. She wills her feet to move her into the locker room. She slips out of her uniform and into her jeans and sweater. On her way back through the restaurant, she tosses the uniform in the trash and silently prays they haven’t left yet.
The dining room lights are dimmed. It’s empty, but for the boy sweeping. Before she reaches the door, the night is filled with the throaty growl of V-Twin engines. Ali’s heart sinks. Her knuckles are white as she grips the door handle; she rests her forehead on the glass, believing her only hope has fled. With new resolve, she shoves her way through the door. As she turns toward the river, she’s startled. There in the darkness, are those cocky, blue eyes. “Let’s ride”, he says offering her a helmet. Ali smiles, relieved.
The river can wait.