Publish Novellas 27 July 2022
EPISODE 2 – PARTNER
You can’t be naive about the consequences of living on the road while chasing Hollywood dreams.
⚠️ Use Discretion: Mature dialogue.
“Here we are at the truck stop. Are you going to take your backpack with you?” asks Diana.
“Uh, yeah. Shouldn’t I?” Emma replies with uncertainty.
“You shouldn’t have to ask.” Inside the restaurant, Diana tells Emma, “Go into the restroom and do what I told you with your valuables while I get us a booth.”
Emma finds Diana after exiting the bathroom.
“Are you all set now?” asks Diana.
“You need to lose those innocent pleasantries. It makes you sound weak, giving someone confidence to overpower you. I ordered breakfast. Don’t tell me whether you have enough to pay for it.
“What business does someone as unprepared as yourself have out here hitchhiking. You have less than a twenty percent chance of reaching your destination safely.”
“I’m gonna be a Hollywood star like Marilyn Monroe. Before she became popular, she was Norma Jean, a simple girl like me.”
Trying to hold back her angst at such naivety, Diana asks, “Do you have an agent or a contract?”
“Naw, not yet.”
“Our aspirations are often framed by limited life experiences. Live your life in a television and you grow up wanting that to be your world. Have you been to acting school?”
The waitress sets two plates on the table before Diana continues the conversation. “Hollywood is as bad, if not worse than the highways on which you’re hitchhiking.”
“Have ya been to Hollywood?”
“Many times, but not for acting; for truck deliveries. Most agents promise you roles just to get into your pants. While you work as a waitress, they’ll introduce you to others who’ll do the same.
“After realizing the restaurant tips are insufficient, you’ll end up renting out your thighs by the hour. Acting like you enjoy it is where most of the roles are cast in Hollywood.”
“Why ya trying to scare me off?”
“Baby, I’m trying to save you. I wasn’t always tough. A truck driver once bounced on me behind the seats against my will. That’s when I wised up.”
“How can I avoid all da bad people—and be like Marilyn Monroe?”
“Marilyn met some bad people too. Her onscreen persona was an act. That’s why she committed suicide.”
“But I can’t go back home. Dere’s nothin’ dere for me.”
“Like you, I ran away from home. But it was not from my parents. It was from a husband. Then I worked as a waitress and sold pies before becoming a truck driver. Women in this line of work are far and few between. I wasn’t prepared as I needed to be for the big bad world. But I was more mature and better prepared than you are right now. Tell me why you ran away.”
“My Ma and me don’t have a home. When we don’t have enough food, she gives me hers but makes me feel guilty for eating it. I either sleep in an old car or, while Ma sleeps with an ‘uncle,’ I sleep on his sofa. I just had to get away,” Emma says while drying her tears with a napkin.
“If it’s any consolation, those men were not likely uncles.”
“I kinda figured since Grandma only had two daughters.”
”I haven’t been through that, but I can relate. My life was stagnant so I made a change. How old are you?”
“I’m 17 and 4 months.”
“Don’t tell anyone else that. In most states, you’re considered an adult at 18. In Alabama, it’s 19. In Colorado and Mississippi you need to be 21 years old.”
“When’s I grownup in California?”
“It’s 18, there. My point is this. If the law finds out that you’re underage, you’ll end up in a foster home until you reach the legal age in that state. From this point on, you’re age 19. But that doesn’t make it any easier to become an actress.”
“Is ya still gonna take me west?”
“Do you want me to drop you off on the side of the road with an 80 percent chance of being molested?”
“Naw, but what other choice do I got?”
“I realize you just met me. But it can get lonely on the road. If you’re open to it, I could use a partner.”
“But ya told me not to trust nobody.”
“Not even me. Do we have a deal?”
“For how long?”
“How about until you turn 18? It will take that long to teach you how to survive. After that, if you still want to go to Hollywood, I’ll take you there.”
“I got one condition,” says the eager, but cautious Emma.
“You’re in no position to barter. But what is it?”
“Teach me what to do when ya put yer hand on my thigh.”
“That depends on whether you want me to molest you or not.”
“Ya always have a straight face. I can’t tell when’yer joking.”
“That’s because this is serious education. You’ve been in class since you waved down my truck.”
“What’s my grade so far?” Emma asks.
“You have a passing ‘D,’ only because you’re still alive. There’s significant room for improvement. Now, finish your breakfast.”
A male truck driver in the diner walks over to the table. “Di, is this your pretty little daughter?” he asks.
“No, this is my new partner, Jean.”
“Oh, by partner, do you mean—?” he pauses.
“I mean, she’s not available.”
“Point taken. Nice to meet you, Jean.” He then walks away.
“Diana, he might think we’re—ya know, a couple.”
“What if he does?”
“Well, I dunno. Is dis another test?”
“Yes. He can think what he wants, as long as he realizes you’re off limits.”
“So, is I gonna hafta hug’ya or somethin’?”
“Did, you ever hug your mom?”
“Well, yeah, but not like—ya know—. Da more we talk, da more scared I is of gettin’ back in’da truck with’ya. I mean, where’s I sleeping?”
“Where do you want to sleep?”
“Oh, boy. I’ll sleep in’da passenger seat.”
“Don’t be silly. You can sleep in the bed while I’m driving. We’ll take turns.”
“But I can’t drive.”
“Take turns sleeping, not driving. You can read to improve your grammar while I nap. With delivery deadlines, I never sleep more than a couple of hours.”
“Can ya teach me how to protect myself before we get back on’da road?”
“Never ask a stranger to teach you how to protect yourself. They will always leave a loophole.”
“Now I’m really confused. Ya answer questions like yer gonna attack me or somethin’. Just tell me if’yer one of them kinda women or whatever.”
“Will you believe my answer?”
“Probably not but for some reason I would go wit’ya anyway. I reckon my sleepin’ bag on’da side of’da road ain’t gonna get me to Hollywood faster’n stickin’ wit’ya.”
“You have passed your first test. Finding out who to trust in Hollywood will be ten times harder. So do I still have a trucking partner?”
“Yeah. But why’d ya call me Jean?”
“That’s a talk for the truck. Conversations in public need to be essentials only, in case others are listening.”
The two finish breakfast and get back on the road with much more to talk about.