05.08 1st October
After driving for the majority of the night Maya had left the screeching tyres and screams behind her. The journey hadn’t been easy, evading the law rarely is, but the real problem comes when one is trying to evade oneself. That is a harder enemy to lose. During the first half hour Maya had pulled over twice to vomit at the roadside. Lumpy swirls of yellow, red and green, although the second vomitus had consisted largely of dark green bile followed by dry retching. Her throat burned with acid.
Ethan’s bloody face, his lifeless body were etched on her brain and wouldn’t leave, and yet somehow it was difficult to accept the reality that he was permanently gone. The scene was jammed on playback mode, giving way intermittently to images from happier days. The day she’d first heard his voice he had been an irritation, a rather stubborn irritation who was persistently requesting fish and chips. It had hardly been love at first site, Maya had just wanted him to desperately leave and the feeling was mutual. Chance meetings at restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets had paved the way. Truth be told, had the pair not been forced to spend time together they never would have fallen in love. First date hadn’t been ideal; he was on the rebound and had somehow managed to join Maya during a dinner with two marks that she was planning to con out every penny. Foreplay that night had been futile, consisting largely of a critique of Maya’s lifestyle and work. Ethan had always been opposed to the conning people out of their worldly possessions, a field in which Maya thrived. The first time they looked deeply into each other’s eyes they saw it and knew they would spend their lives intertwined together. What would she tell her daughter, about how her father died? Why he died? She was barely three, but one day when’s she’s older there will be questions. Maya’s stomach cramped in agony, acting almost as a comfort distracting from the true wounds. Anything that diverted her attention from the thoughts that’s spun in her mind was a welcome and productive distraction.
Last time she’d been to this side of town was years ago now, on the way visit the doctor with her mum.
‘Don’t worry we’ll get you right,’ her mum had reassured Maya, holding her then small hands in her own sweaty palms. Maya had heard it in her voice, the disbelief and the fear that things may never be right. They would never be perfect. From what Maya remembered there should’ve been a service station approaching. Sure enough, within the next mile the signs appeared on the carriageway signalling services at the next exit.
Maya pulled onto the concrete concourse next to a petrol pump. The car was almost dry and to keep her lead she would need to get fuel. She filled the tank despite lack of funds, which posed a minor problem in the fuel situation. Since the rise in fuel theft most petrol stations now had a police car stationed in close proximity (generally speaking either on site or within a few hundred yards), so driving off wasn’t an option, as it would only expedite capture. To add to her problems Maya was splattered with blood from head to toe. Peering in through kiosk window she could make out one male attendant behind the counter. Well that’s doable, she thought to herself, worst-case scenario he could be knocked out if he got suspicious.
Cash, as always, was still a problem. Scouring round the forecourt she glimpsed a battered ATM. Fortunately, on closer inspection it appeared the CCTV hovering over the ATM had been violently smashed past any working order. ATM hacking had been her forte years ago, but it wasn’t an elegant operation or one that she was particularly proud of. As theft went, it all seemed a little too easy and provided cold hard cash without the sense of accomplishment or excitement. Cold hard cash would serve todays purpose. Gingerly she inserted her chipped card into the ATM, unsure whether the malware the card contained had been patched by the service provider. After punching in her numbers, the ATM obligingly turned into a winning lottery ticket happy to give any amount of money requested from random accounts. They’re bloody asking to be ripped off, if they still haven’t patched this, Maya thought to herself.
With cash in hand it was time to venture into the kiosk. Maya was fully aware that being covered in blood would invite questions she neither could nor wanted to answer. Covering and cupping her nose with both hands she stepped into the kiosk.
‘Hi mate. I’m having a fucking torrential nose bleed here. Any chance I could use your bathroom, I just need try to stem the bleeding,’ she asked the young man behind the counter who was looking simultaneously aroused and disgusted.
‘Sure, it’s down there on your right,’ he answered waving his arm to the right, eyeing her heavily blood stained thigh skimming boots.
‘Thanks,’ Maya muffled from behind her hands.
Once locked safely in the bathroom, out of view from prying eyes, she set upon the task of trying to rid her clothing of blood using dampened toilet paper. Looking round she glimpsed the mirror and her heart uneasily jerked, as she looked into the eyes of the other half of her. Her eyes seared with tears.
‘I thought you were gone,’ she said looking into Ethan’s eyes as he stared out from the mirror.
‘I would never leave you,’ he mouthed.
In a blink the image that had brought her solace was no more, leaving only her own cold emerald eyes shining out from the mirror. Having lost patience trying to clean her clothes, she left the restroom, paid the attendant and drove out of the service station. Patience, like morality, had never been Maya’s strong point.
Long ago now, when times had been better and she had ‘family’ to support her, this had seemed like an inevitable ending. Then Ethan had entered her life, changed the course and run-ins with the law had vastly reduced. I guess happily ever after just wasn’t meant to be. Her genetic family had left, both with horizontal and vertical departures. The ‘family’ she had become to rely upon were made from same cloth as Maya, and had started out as her friends and peers. Friends she had studied with, got drunk with, conned with and broken out of jail. She had no one to turn to, not a soul who would help her there was no choice but to call upon old friends.
Undoubtedly, this was a selfish move and pulling up outside her best friend’s house Maya realised just how selfish. He was more than a best friend, he’d been more like a brother, and this was how she repaid him by bringing the brutal hand of the law to his doorstep. Dawn gradually worked her rosy-fingers to grasp the world into her clutches, reminding Maya of the danger that pursued her.