There was a meshed grill on the wall next to the door with a big red button. Ariel depressed the button. ‘Ariel from dispatch got a newby who fell into a dumpster.’ The mesh squawked. ‘No, she’s not bad…. yes…. she’s with me. Needs looking at. ‘
‘Squawk.’ A videye, centred above the door lintel, swivelled and panned. The door clicked. Ariel opened it and went in grabbing Suzie by the wrist.
Inside at a desk a dark man sat. Indian? Pakistani? White coat impeccable. After the sordid, the clean almost hurt. ‘Ariel is it? (Looking at her tag) you are? He had a form. It was light green. He had a pen it was blue plastic.
‘Glinda ‘…….. Writing, he looked up.
‘Smith… I suppose someone has to be. Number?’
‘She banged her head, she’s as newby, only started this shift.’
‘I lost it in the dumpster, It was 143 something something I think.’
‘Doubt it, that would mean you were a dog handler, ….security..’ He looked her up and down and sniffed, ‘You on trash right?’ She nodded, he looked at a laminated list taped to the desk top, ‘286B’ He wrote.
‘I am not good with numbers’ She cursed herself, first rule – don’t offer… take. She put on a shit eater grin. ‘Sorry.’
‘Ok Ms ….Smith, we can check later, lets look at that ankle. Ariel put her arm around her waist and eased her over to the guerney in the corner. Suzie felt her warmth. Her head swam as she put it on the hard starchy pillow. She bit her lip as her boot was eased off. She heard a tap run, then warm water softened the dried blood that stuck her sock to the wound. More water bathed the wound. ‘You are lucky, a stitch or two and strapping for the sprain and you will be as good as new.’ Suzie heard no caution in the professional cheer and allowed herself to relax a little.
Bandaged, sock damp from a Ariel’s hasty hand basin wash, securely booted Suzie wanted out. Ariel was fidgeting. Suddenly the door opened and another white coat entered in a hurry. ‘Jacob…. some idiots fallen out of a cherry picker!… oh sorry…!
‘It’s OK, done here.’ He turned to Ariel, ‘You look after her?’
Ariel looked at Suzie speculatively and softened slightly… ‘I guess..’
‘Good girl’, and grabbing a first aid kit off its hook by the door, followed the newcomer out.
Suzie opened her mouth to speak. Ariel nixed it with a slight head shake. Her hand, concealed by her body, she indicated the ceiling pick up.
They left, very conscious of the incomplete green form and abandoned blue pen on the desk.
‘Shit! You lucky or what?’
‘Shit, no worries, look, I got to get back to work.’
‘You won’t get into trouble..?’
‘Nah, old Maggie, she’ cool if you don’t push it. Late shift quiet, I just explain. Who’ your supervisor?’
The grin again, ‘Er, I guess I forgot her name….’
‘That’s Abbott and he a he…. Who are you?’
‘…Like I said Glinda…’
‘Smith, yeah right!’
She tried the grin…. No dice.
‘Glinda I believe… Smith… I mean, really. You don’t work here at all. How’d you get in?’
‘I..I..OK..’ ‘Be disarmimg come-ON girl!’ Yeah OK… you’re right. I snuck in the dumpster.
You didn’t hurt that leg in no dumpster.
It was in a trap
In the car park?
In the desert, on the edge….
Alarm and curiosity compete, You one of THEM?
One of Them… The Outers…You do them things they say?
You know … do it with animals and … kids, worship Allah and like that?
I am just trying to get to the mountains
On the other side of The Mall. Mountains…
Mountains… you crazy?
I just want out, want to be free.
All this crazy shopping shit, I don’t need stuff, I just need….
…. Dunno, mountains I guess. Anything’s better than drifting around in the shadows or …. this, waving her arm at her surroundings violently.
Hey, no.. it’s great. Can’t wait to finish work, there’s a whole lot of new stuff in Camping.
Camping? Incredulous. You go camping?
Er… no, but if I did it would be great to have.
Does anybody go camping?
Sure, my uncle goes every holiday
He does? Where?
Oh … Enfield, Portnoy……
They are just further down the strip.
Yeah, in-store camping, it’s cool. Cheaper than a motel and the shopping’s right there.
Jeez …and you think I’m crazy….
Lots of people do it, they bless the camp sites.
The church, they have a special service and everything.
What are you going to do?
Are you gonna shop me to the Beefs.
Ariel bits her lip. ‘I guess not .. I like you…’
No really…. I like you. We gotta get you outta here.
Thanks, I mean really. I don’t want to get you into trouble.
No sweat, hang here, Ariel grabs Suzzies hand and draws her after her, down the corridor, to a nearby door marked ‘Staging’. Inside the room, dimly lit, is full of huge open topped boxes full of what looked like enormous curtains, ‘gonna tell Old Maggie I am sick… stay here …. No one come in here on night shift.
Thanks. Really, and it’s Suzzie
The name… Suzzie, not Glinda
Grins .. S’cool. She was gone.
Suzzie eased her ankle, it felt better, it felt good. Most of the pain had receded to a dull ache and throb. By some miracle it did not seem infected.
What to do?
She was not going to get to far on her own, too much difference to trip her. Like another planet. She looked down at her torn filthy clothes. Need a change, she sniffed, and a shower.
Ariel then.. for the moment… something about her was causing an itch that could usually only be scratched by a new lead guitarist. Curious…. But not now. She had to get out and through. The Mountains.
Maybe Ariel had gone for the Beef….
She went through her pack: spare clothes, all dirty, food consisted of an energy bar and some nuts, which she ate and drank the last in her water bottle.
Time passed some more.
A scuff and the door handle turned Ariel slipped in carrying a grey dust coat. Suzzie started, had she suddenly put on weight?
Ariel grinned, hitched herself up on the edge of a crate and kicked off here shoes and peeled off an extra pair of socks, unzipped her work smock and shucked it off along with a new shirt, bra, (nickers tucked in). She sat their looking pleased. You work here you don’t pay for everything. Under all her spoils she was only wearing a tank top, translucent with wear. Dark nipples starred at Suzie. Speculatively she touched one with her finger.
‘They for looking at not touching’
‘Really?’ She raised her other hand and finger-touched the other.
Ariel went still and looked into her eyes, ‘Mostly.’
Suzzie gently pushed her backwards into the box of curtains and rolled over the side and joined her.
After the giggles and just before their saliva mingled, the thought: ‘What the fuck am I doing?’
It took a while and more giggles to get off the two pairs of jeans.
I never done it with … girls before.
Been a while since I was a girl. ‘Love the one you’re with.’
A song, an old song.