Brian's desperation shattered the calm as he clawed his way back up to the driver's seat of the RV.
Go Go GO!
Bobby looked to his right, miraculously knowing exactly how to react. Our thirty-foot Sundowner finally performed as we needed it to, just as the maroon Cutlass Supreme began circling us. Its windows were blacked out, but the passenger side window, rolled half-way down, revealed a male figure grinning at us maniacally, as if we were his dinner. I had seen the vehicle approaching us from the driver's side, hoping they were only late-night shoppers looking for a spot in the lot. I checked the time; it was well past ten PM on that Friday night. We were lost.
After only two days on the road, attempting to get my mother back home to her bed in Los Angeles, we had simply exited the highway outside of St. Louis looking for a place to stop for the night. The logistics of this trip, until this point, had been fairly smooth. But this time, even the full moon couldn't light our way. I remembered someone imploring us to keep the Arch to one side of us; but I couldn't remember which side, or why that was even important.
We knew we were in a bad neighborhood, having seen the burned-out buildings and abandoned cars as we drove through. But we had to stop. She was dying. Something inside told the three of us —my two brothers and I — that this was it. Conflicting emotions began to get the better of us: sadness, exhaustion, and a twinge of relief combined to keep all of us on edge. Idling in a well-lit Home Depot parking lot seemed as safe a place as any to contemplate our situation.
Oh how wrong I was.
Our eyes were wide, bodies almost frozen in fear. Now another car arrived and sped in behind us. We were blocked in. The two cars circled, slow at first, sizing up their bounty, so obvious we must have seemed in our bulky RV and lack of direction. I had never felt physically threatened before, but maybe my brothers had, since their reactions were lightning fast. I sat there, frozen and numb, incapable of doing anything.
Panic set in as Bobby put the pedal to the metal and we burned rubber out of there. Plates, food, mugs of freshly made coffee, and the last bit of cream skidded off the counter and all over the floor.
The menacing cars circled around again, trying to cut us off, but Bobby made a dash for the exit. He swerved to the right and made a deft escape to the empty and dark road. Brian magically appeared in the passenger seat to navigate our way to the nearest highway onramp. The two cars were still in pursuit, even with all of Bobby's Indy 500 moves. I only hoped mom hadn't rolled off the bed.
Keep breathing, I reminded myself, even as chaos exploded inside the RV. One step at a time, we will get out of this. One breath at a time, we will find the highway. One step at a time, we will live to tell this story.
We all checked the rearview mirrors, watching them stop short of following us onto the highway. I guess we weren't worth that sort of chase, after all.
Finally, the sound of my own breathing had calmed me down. I began to feel the inner peace I had so desperately wanted and needed. A thousand feathers brushed my skin. Laurie, my mom's nurse who surely regretted volunteering to drive home with us, crawled out from the back of the RV. Her two simple words: She's gone.
My mother was dead. God was close. My heartbeat was all I heard.