Laura could see the shards of glass; some still part of the hutch door but now broken into long sweeping pieces, others lying on the floor under the table. The hutch had been part memento and part joke between her and Mark, bought because of an antique flea market they had stopped at on the way back from one of many road trips the two of them had taken years ago.
Five hours of relentless driving on I-40 across the flat boredom of northern
“Ok, this sucks,” Mark injected into the stale silence, “We’re stopping at the next place where it looks like we won’t have to worry about meeting some distant relatives of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family.” Less than a minute after he’d made the comment, they had passed a dusty gas station that looked like something still standing at the site of a nuclear test range. “See what I mean?” he said, still trying to add some levity to the atmosphere inside the Ranger Rover’s cabin. He turned his head, smiling, to look at Laura, trying to see if his joke had lightened her mood at all.
Without returning his gaze Laura pointed through the windshield, trying not to smile, “Look, a flea market,” she said, “That’ll work.”
There were a few other cars in the parking lot, if you could call it that. A big dusty field was a more accurate description for the lot next to the flea market, but that could have applied to pretty much everything else they’d seen for the last 50 miles. The building was an old airplane hangar that looked like a giant cylinder made of corrugated metal sheeting, tipped on its side and buried halfway in dust and dirt.
As they walked through the maze of booths and corridors filled with random
“I bet the only people who ever come here, aside from people trying to sell this junk, are people like us who are a little bit insane from driving for hours in a straight line,” Mark whispered into Laura’s ear, kissing her gently behind her ear, pausing for a second before pulling back.
Laura smiled; a small orb of heat at the base of her stomach making its way throughout her body. The electric fuzziness of it was incredible. She spun on the balls of her feet, grabbed Mark’s head with both hands and pulled him into a deep kiss. Her body pressed full against him, she could feel him growing instantly harder as he leaned into her. For a second she pushed into him more, and then slowly pulled away from him, lingering long enough to exhale her hot breath onto his still open lips. “Maybe I really like looking at antiques,” she purred with a gleam in her eyes, “How do you know I’m not looking for the perfect hutch or something?”
Mark looked lost, his eyes slightly unfocused. Laura didn’t think he’d even heard what she had just said. “I love you,” he sighed, “Even if you have no idea what a hutch is.”
They had pulled off to the side of the road a few miles from the flea market and in the summer heat somewhere in the middle of
Driving again, with the air conditioning providing a cool blast of arctic air, the silence in the Rover was now one of contentment. Glowing, Mark and Laura were both smiling. Mark ran his hand through his hair. “Goddamn, I love air conditioning,” he said matter-of-factly.
Weeks later Laura had come home after work to find the hutch, the one now broken by some maniac whose face she still hadn’t seen, sitting in the middle of their anteroom with a sign taped to it saying, “This is what a hutch is, smarty-pants.”
I love you too.
The present swam back into focus for Laura, the emotion of losing Mark replaced by numbness and a cold determination. She wasn’t sure where her attacker was or how long she’d laid here staring at the broken glass. She’d lost track of time again. She tried to focus, listening for some creak in the old house or anything really that would help her hone in on where the man was at, if he was still in the house at all.