Hi,” she said. The window was down. It was pretty hot out, and the air don’t work on the truck no more. Her voice was kind of what you might call husky. She had a wide mouth and her teeth was white and pointed like and a little crooked. Overlapped, you know. Yeah, she was a looker. I figured just on the younger side of thirty, but with those city women sometimes it can be a little hard to be sure. Blue eyes. Nice pale skin, none of that tanning bed nonsense. Real blue eyes.

You having a spot of trouble with that little car?”

Yes, I don’t even know what. The check engine light came on, and then it slowed down, and then the engine quit.” She didn’t sound too worried about it. “And I can’t get a signal on my phone. Is there any chance…?”

She just trailed off there, smiling at me. Waiting for me to offer her a ride. Well, I was going to. I knew right off I wanted to take her. But I got ways about me, ways I need to do things. I wanted her to be sure, you know. Make the choice herself. That’s the way it has to be.

You want to get on in and come with me? Up to the house, I mean. I’m just a ways up, got a phone you could use.” I talk careful when it happens. I wouldn’t want to lie. Wouldn’t be right. See, I say could use. Because she could. She’d not get to, though, of course. If I said can, well, there it is. Then I’d have to let her call, and the AAA or some friend’d be on their way and we’d pass the time ‘til then, and away she’d go. It had happened before.

She got on in the truck. I didn’t ask her her name or anything, and she didn’t ask for mine. She put her seat belt on and looked out the window. Clutched her weird little purse with her hands. She had short nails and they weren’t painted. I wondered what she was thinking. Probably about the phone, I guess. The one I said she could use. She never would though. Could isn’t can. Can is almost will, you know. If you can, you will, a lot of times. I do, if you get me.

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