Sabine cursed under her breath as she crouched beside the front tire of her electric blue Fatboy. The lowering timbre of whistling signaled that most of the air had finished escaping the puncture. She stood up, arched her back, then pulled the hair tie off that held her fire-red hair from getting in her face. The mass of curls immediately came to life and bounced around her shoulders. She took off her leather riding jacket and laid it across the gas tank.
She gave the flattened tire a kick with her leather boot then strode from the air pumps of the gas station to the driveway entrance and looked down the stretch of black top to the east. She squinted her eyes to try to make out any movement along the highway amidst the witch’s water that rose above the asphalt. She cursed again. How could she have been so stupid. She broke three of her hardcore rules for motorcycle riding. Never let the man lead. Never store your stuff in someone else’s saddlebags. And never, ever not know exactly where the ride was going to go. Now she was stuck at some Podunk gas station, miles away from any real assistance, her riding partner somewhere down the road completely oblivious to her absence, her supplies in his bags, and unsure of what her location was.
The late morning sun was beginning to break through the cloud cover. Again, Sabine squinted as she looked up to the sky. She knew all this squinting was causing her crow’s feet to gain more traction around her eyes, just like she knew the sun was going to add more freckles across her nose if she didn’t find some shade soon. Her sun block was of course in his saddlebags, as were her glasses. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she muttered under her breath. At least she had decided to wear jeans instead of the leather riding pants. With the day becoming muggy, the leather would have been unbearable.
Sabine caught sight of some movement inside the station office and quickly walked over to talk to the person inside. At least she could find out her location. That would be a start. The young woman inside the office looked up when Sabine opened the door. Her eyes got big as saucers when she saw Sabine’s red hair. It was nothing new to Sabine to see that reaction and she ignored it.
“I was wondering if you might tell me the location here,” she asked. “Seems my riding partner left me high and dry, I’m rather lost, and I got a flat.”
“Oh,” the girl said, her eyes never wavered from the mass of red curls around Sabine’s face. “Well, this is Cougar, and that’s Highway 503. We ain’t got no service station here. Closest would be Woodland.”
“Okay,” Sabine answered as she committed the information to memory. “Do you by chance carry any Fix-A-Flat?”
“Fix a what?” the girl asked.
“You know what, never mind. Thanks for the information.”
Sabine retraced her steps back to the motorcycle. At least she had her cell phone with her in the handlebar satchel. As she pulled it out she sent out a little prayer that she would have cell service. One bar the indicator told her. Hopefully that would be enough. She dialed a number from memory. As the phone rang she watched a maroon minivan pull up to the pumps and a family spill out as soon as the vehicle stopped. When the line connected, Sabine turned her attention back to the phone.
“Yeah,” came a gruff voice over the cell.
“Martin, it’s Sabine. Look, I don’t have great service. I’m stuck in some town called Cougar with a flat. Can you come with your trailer and get me?”
“Why don’t you fix it with that can I gave you?”
“Because it’s not with me. It’s with Curtis.”
A low grumble came over the cell waves. “Sabine, you know better.”
“I know, I know,” Sabine uncharacteristically whined.
“Fine,” Martin ground out. “Gimme where you’re at.”
“Highway 503, Cougar, Shell gas station.”
“Shit, girl, it’s going to be at least an hour. You gonna be okay?”
“Yeah, just hurry.”
“On my way.”
The signal cut out, but the conversation had finished. Sabine put the cell phone back in the satchel. As she was about to close it up she spied a cellophane wrapper as it caught the sunlight. A slow smile crept across Sabine’s lips. She was sure she had gotten rid of all the packs of cigarettes last month. She carefully pulled the pack of Camel Wides out and opened the box top. Yes! Four cigarettes were inside along with a lighter. She slid one out and lit it. The first puff tasted like ashtray, but she knew that would pass after the third puff. She had been down this quitting road once or twice already.
As she turned around to survey her surroundings more leisurely she was startled by a little blonde girl who had been standing behind her. Again, eyes big a saucers.
“Well, hi there,” Sabine greeted.
“Is your head on fire?” the girl asked. Leave it to a child to simply ask what everyone else wanted to know.
Sabine let out a little snort. “No, honey, it’s just my hair.”
A startled cry came from near the minivan. The mother saw Sabine talking to the little girl and rushed over to rescue the tike. The woman glared at Sabine while also giving off a vibe of fear and awe. Also reactions Sabine was used to. Women feared and envied her, men craved and feared her, and kids, well they just wanted to know if her head was on fire. As the woman retreated back to the van with the child in tow, the little girl turned back and waved goodbye. Sabine waved back then settled herself side-saddle on the seat of the bike to wait for Martin as the minivan pulled back onto the highway.
The sun finally worked itself free from the cloud cover and began to beat down on Sabine. Not wanting to risk anymore exposure, Sabine stood up, grabbed her jacket, cellphone, and cigarettes, and sauntered under the canopy that protected the gas pumps. She set down her jacket and sat down on top of it, stretching her lean legs out in front of her. In hopes of passing the time she looked at the phone to see if there was any signal, but no bars informed her no signal. She laid it in her lap and grabbed another cigarette. She knew she shouldn’t smoke so close to the pumps but there was no one around and she was bored.
As she puffed the cigarette, she watched as a few cars and a couple motorcycles flew past the station. Still no sign of Curtis. Was he so clueless that he still hadn’t noticed she was missing? Martin had warned her about riding with Curtis alone, but she figured it was simply out of brotherly love that he made the comment. Now she understood. And again she berated herself for not abiding by her rules. No matter, Martin was on his way and she wasn’t in any immediate danger.
Drowsiness began to take a hold of Sabine as she leaned against the support column of the canopy. She closed her eyes and listened to the quiet of the small town afternoon. Her mind wandered after a time to a not so distant memory; of another time she was stuck at a gas station. She had been bruised and bleeding with no way to contact anyone. Finally a couple drove up in an old Ford pickup and let her borrow their phone. They stayed with her until Martin showed up. He got her home, cleaned up and safely put to bed. Then he went out in search of the culprit. A few hours later he returned, hands as bruised as her face. After that he taught her how to take care of herself, and she learned the lessons quickly. At least she thought she had. This time she wasn’t hurt, just stranded. It didn’t matter though, she broke her rules, the rules Martin had laid out for her.
Before long, she heard the telltale roar of Martin’s old Dodge van as it motored into Cougar. Sabine shook the cobwebs from her mind, gathered her stuff, got up, and returned to her motorcycle. As Martin pulled in, a motorcyclist coming from the opposite direction came in behind. It was Curtis. Sabine’s relief at seeing Martin was replaced by fury directed at Curtis. She strided to confront Curtis, but Martin jumped out of the van and got to him first. As soon as Curtis pulled off his helmet, Martin threw a punch. It landed squarely on Curtis’ jaw and laid him out on the parking lot. Martin turned back around without ever saying a word to Curtis and headed for the disabled bike. As he passed Sabine, he muttered, “Get your bag.”
Sabine quietly obeyed. She stepped over Curtis who was still laying on the cement rubbing his jaw, pulled open one of his saddlebags and retrieved her backpack. She took it to the passenger side of the van and tossed it through the open window onto the seat. She then went to assist Martin as he pushed her bike onto the trailer and tied it down.
Only after the bike was secured and Sabine and Martin were back in the van did Curtis stand back up grab his helmet and get back on his bike. Before they could pull around to head back onto the highway he screeched out ahead of them making his own beeline back to the city.
As Martin entered the roadway, he pointed to the bag in Sabine’s lap. “Don’t ever let me catch you without that bag in you possession again. Understand?”
The words cut, but not as deep as the tone of his voice. Sabine mutely nodded. She knew better than to give her brother any lip.
After a few miles had passed, Martin spoke up again, his voice still brusque but not nearly as angry. “You gonna stay for dinner? Shelly’s fixing some sort of pasta dish, salad and beans.”
“Okay,” Sabine softly answered.
Martin lifted his right hand from the steering wheel, reached over and tousled Sabine’s hair.
“Redheads. Nothing but trouble,” he teased.
Sabine smiled as she reached over to pull his beard. “You oughta know.”
– – – –
This story is part of this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Characters That Haunt You.
Document at least five important characteristics of your character — the idea is to capture as much detail about them as possible to get to know who they are. Your character is entirely up to you — it could be a human, or an animal, or an inanimate object. The idea is to allow the character to escape the confines of your imagination and become alive on the page.
Now that you’ve fleshed out your character in greater detail, write a scene that involves your character. The scene can be any length you choose, though for the purposes of this challenge, compose at least one paragraph that features your character. What are they doing? Why are they there? What are they thinking about and why?
To see more great character developments click here.