The Lot Lizard King
The highway glistened with every fat rain drop as the fading sun beamed a bright orange into the cars rearview mirror. Jerry Wells’s vision was as blurry as the passing pines encompassing his route back through the mountains.
Hours previous, he had journeyed into these giant swells of Appalachian green with a savage urge to kill the pain and end it all on some scenic, rocky trail. Jerry just wasn’t satisfied with it anymore. His cozy spot in the front of the line amongst all the other sheep in the Burger King drive thru just wasn’t enough to fill that hollow gap of his soul. It’s funny he thought, pressing a knee to the steering wheel to spark a joint and causing the car to gently swerve to the left then the right, before it straightened back out. It’s hard to believe how so many choose to not see the bars from inside the cage, for their minds are merely distracted on the securities of their enclosure.
Over the past few months and leading up to his planned immigration, many people could almost sense Jerry teetering so close to the brink. They were always declaring things like… “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. And it’ll get better in time, we promise.” Such deluded thoughts to assume the job he absolutely loathed, the ticking time bomb of his personal debt, or even his girlfriend running off with his best friend were such blessings in disguise. But above all that, it was the maddening, claustrophobic feelings of being just another fucken rat in a cage that would consume every waking moment of Jerry Wells life.
In anybody else’s eyes these were all just tiny strings of bad luck, egotistical hardships that had been allowed to transform themselves into a chunky stew of denatured thoughts. Superficial things had driven Jerry straight to the edge, wildly wielding a loaded .38 Special, a good bottle of Captain Morgans spiced rum and a large bag of Acapulco Gold.
Jerry eventually stumbled onto a comfortable place to checkout deep in the rolling mountains. Adventurously, he drove along a root laden path and parked overlooking a deep, tree covered valley. But after smoking a cannon as fat as his index finger, he ended up firing his only five rounds from his thirty-eight into a well rested tree trunk. Ultimately, his mind subconsciously decided against such doomsday plans and after the rage resided he accepted his luck, vowing to start life anew and promising himself that he would begin a new chapter in search of his true happiness. He stumbled around the trail mindlessly obliterated after having consumed the entire bottle rum in his celebration. After some time, he settled onto the hood of his Jeep with his back to the windshield, admiring the spectacular views and blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd, Freebird. He quickly drifted off to sleep and then was abruptly rattled awake by a hiker violently poking into his ribs with a twig. The man’s shiny bald head could be seen glaring in the afternoon sun like a motorcycles lone headlight on a dark highway. Every item of clothing this man wore displayed its brand in big bold letters. Jerry’s first thoughts of the man were that he reminded him of a walking billboard and he looked better suited for a marketing meeting than a nature hike.
“You can’t just park your vehicle here bud, this is a hiking trail,” the power hungry hiker snarled. The man’s expressions quickly shifted the moment he caught a glimpse of the bag of pot on the dash. “What’s that? You’re a dirty doper aren’t you? Came up here to get your fix did ya…?” Exclaimed the man.
“Fuck you Billboard Bob,” Jerry replied belligerently, springing down from the Jeep to confront the man.
The situation turned rather ugly when this man tried to conduct a poor attempt at a back country citizens arrest. A small scuffle ensued, Jerry broke free from the man’s grip and jumped back into his Jeep, tearing off down the trail and showering the man in a spray of stones and dirt.
The downpour had cleared as quickly as it had come and the sky now held a bright pink hue from the setting sun when Jerry managed to eventually steer himself into a truck stop. He needed to collect his thoughts and more importantly lay low, just in case that nosey hiker decided to call the cops. The truck stop appeared to be in a horrible element of decay, closest to the highway stood a mustard yellow restaurant in the shape of a barn and two old, weathered fuel pumps stood out front like the rusty guards of time. On the far side was a large gravel parking lot with a few big rigs and two massive mud puddles left in its centre by the rain. Jerry tore through the puddles, sending colossal tidal waves of muddy water cascading in all directions. He slid to a sloppy stop next to a pristine, matte black Escalade, just as a heavy set man in a dark purple jumpsuit was coming back from the restroom. Glowing neon green light poured out from underneath the SUV’s frame as he disabled the alarm and opened the door.
Cool whip, Jerry chuckled to himself, as he sauntered off towards the grimy restroom doors. The surrounding sounds of crickets filled his ears and the air felt fresh as it entered his lungs. A light fog could be seen trickling in from the now shadowy tree line of the parking lot and a shiver tip toed up Jerry’s spine like two fingers strolling across a piano. The uncanny feeling of someone watching him shifted his attention to look back towards the tricked out SUV pulling away, a flash of lightening flickered off in the distance and captured the silhouette of a distant tree covered ridge. The storm was swinging back around he thought, as he wrenched open the restroom door to an army of flies all around him. The place was infested with them and the smell was as if something had died. The interior tile walls of the restroom were smeared with what looked like dried blood and blackened greasy finger prints. On the right hung an automatic hand dryer between two rusty white sinks that appeared to be erupting up from the floor, above them a heavily dented piece of steel was bolted as a mirror. On the left stood two polluted stalls with a black garbage bag taped to one of the doors, a colourful array of used condoms hung draped over its plastic rim forming a rainbow of sloppy teeth around what looked like a sickening mouth. Jerry stood with his eyes as wide as sewer grates surveying this nasty nest of filth. Thats when he heard the whimpering coming from the furthest stall.
“Hello!” He whispered stepping deeper into the vile space. His feet slid and struggled for proper footing in the muck of the floor. The light in the ceiling flickered and violently started to buzz. Jerry edged ever closer to the last stall and eased the door to the parking lot closed behind himself with just tips of his fingers for safe measure. The quick flickers of blackness were unnerving and the wicked smell made him uncontrollably gag repeatedly. Every instinct within him wanted to burn out of there. But he knew that was just what he’d always done, it was that engineered fear, it was that same fear he felt living his old egotistical lie of a life. He gently pushed open the last stall door.
A small young woman sat naked, curled up into a ball beside the toilet. Her matted blonde hair lay draped over her face. She looked up at him through the strands and their eyes locked for a split moment before she began to shriek hysterically. Jerry instinctively ducked from the startling blast of sound, every hair on the back of his neck felt like tiny spines were leaping from his skin.
“It’s okay—Are you hurt? I am here to help!” He announced, trying not to startle her anymore than she already was. She stopped screaming when he stepped from her view. He was able to observe her from a crack in the stalls dividing wall unnoticed, he could see she was shackled to a thick steel ring in the floor and blood was dripped down both her legs, her face looked terribly disfigured and swollen. “I’am calling an ambulance Miss,” he shouted.
She just whimpered. He tried to approach her again after making the call, but again was greeted with more bloodcurdling screams.
Helplessly he watched her trembling, repeatedly he reassured her help was on the way until the paramedics finally arrived.
The fireman had to use bolt cutters to free her from the restroom floor before they wrapped her in blankets and loaded her into the ambulance. All Jerry could do was stand in revelation. My what type of world we have built for ourselves he pondered, where women and children are kept as slaves in truck stop restrooms. His eyes followed the flashing red lights of the ambulance, as they raced into the flow of the highways traffic. An officer approached him from behind.
“Thank you Jerry—“ The officer said, firmly grabbing and shaking his hand.
“No problem officer— I am just glad I was in the right place at the right time. Do you think you’ll catch the monster that enslaved her like that?”
“Slavery is dead Jerry, this is the modern world, she’s the one that chose this provocative, drug fuelled and unholy lifestyle. Her parents said she had run away a little over a year ago and she refused to go to school or follow any form of authority, she’s just another runaway hooker.”
“Slavery isn’t dead officer, only peoples observations of it. It’s that type of ignorance that allows these things to happen.”
“You know—you’re a real smart guy aren’t you Jerry… By the way, is that your Jeep parked over there?”
“Yes, sir—” Jerry answered him, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, Jerry Wells, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” The officer forcefully spun him around and hand cuffed him. ”I am charging you with trafficking,” he announced.
“What? Are you delusional?” Contested Jerry. “Is this a joke?”
“You have over an ounce of high grade marijuana on your Jeeps dash Jerry, don’t start acting stupid with me.”
more by ROACH ADAMS
read Roach Adams’ blog Animals Of Progress
photograph by Ales Krivec