The happiness I felt at rolling along again was sadly short lived. While I received the luxury of sitting in the front seat, I quickly found that my driver was not nearly as courteous as the last driver. He had a certain tone to his voice that made my smile fade a little. I tried to focus on the road ahead gamely, but could not ignore the noises that soon began to filter forward from the back bunk.
Things seemed to be going from bad to worse.
As the sun set, we drove along in darkness. Few other vehicles passed us by. We were in the desert, driving towards the coast and it seemed even more isolated now that the sun was gone. The only thing that illuminated the night sky was the truck’s headlights carving a path through the inky gloom. What was worse, was that with two drivers, one could sleep while the other drove, keeping the truck moving 24-7. There was always a set of watchful eyes. It did not escape me either, that it didn’t sound like the man in the back was getting any sleep. There was much rustling of bodies and muffled grunts. While I could not understand the actual words that were being said, I got the feeling that the young woman in the back was not interested in the advances that were being foisted upon her. I stared out the windshield, trying to figure out how I could best help the poor girl.
Then a hand materialized on my leg.
I instantly pushed it away, but my hackles were now up and raised high. “Oh lord, how the hell was I going to get out of this truck?” my brain desperately demanded. The lascivious smile of the driver made me recoil and pull tighter into myself. This was not good. Not good at all. The girl in the back seemed to be doing an adequate job of keeping the second driver away from herself, but things were getting decidedly dangerous. It was dark out. We were literally miles from nowhere and our apparent saviours had turned into fiends that were attempting to extract their fare for passage in flesh.
Then the drivers switched places. And so did myself and my other hapless companion. Now she was in the front seat and I was on the bunk, but sleep was the farthest thing from my mind. I was young, white and vulnerable as a female traveler at the mercy of these strange men. As fingers began to crawl up my leg, I kicked and began to pray. My words felt hollow and useless in a foreign tongue, but I used them none the less.
“No!” I said. “Stop it!”
And yet they still kept coming. I kept insisting on being left alone, trying to make myself as small and inaccessible as possible. My brain found the image of God, and despite not having had much use for his omnipotent powers in the past, I now began to beg favours at a rapid pace. I beseeched his sense of fairness, good and integrity. My body was taut and tense with the strain of resistance and my willing of a positive energy to intervene. My tone became more strident, as I pleaded with higher powers to please release me from this state of strife. As one side of my brain grappled with images of worst case scenarios, I distinctly heard my mother warning me against talking to strangers and the bad things that could happen. “Please, please”, I begged. Let this not be the time when she would be right!
Gradually, my molester began to lose interest in the chase. Perhaps sleep got the better of him, or perhaps his soul realized that what he was attempting to do was the wrong thing. Whatever it was, that night my Guardian Angels earned their places in the Heavens for eternity. I wanted to cry, sob or scream, but my fight or flight response had me wired into a ball ready to attack if necessary. I occasionally felt a hand explore to see if perhaps I was asleep or had changed my mind, but a swift shove let him know that I was not up for a night of ‘fun’. Long after he turned over and curled up to go to sleep, I lay tightly in the corner of the bunk, my breath ragged in my chest. I no longer considered hitch-hiking to be the free and easy ride I once thought of it as. I somehow felt like I used up one of my lives that night. In the end, I never wanted it back.