We travelled a long way with short exchanges. Dark skin, stubble and he smelt of diesel. He was hot, his truck exporting ice.
We were in a convoy driving to Paris. All vehicles stopped at the same rather lovely French restaurant, just off the autoroute. We sat on a table with the trucker we’d originally hitched a lift from, others joined us and before long the table was full of big strong hunks of men. The man to my right chatted to me in French. I smiled and he gestured I could sleep in his bunk and worked out I could get about ‘cinq’ hours sleep. I was excited to be so nearly home, sleeping would make the journey faster, our trucker and Marni had talked nonstop (she had done A level French) it had been annoying as I’d wanted to sleep.
“I’d rather we stayed together” Marni said, but with free carafes of wine on the table I was having none of it.
I left my stuff with Marni in her truck, ruck sack, passport the lot, just took Yvon’s (our French Pelekas thief’s) sleeping bag.
“See ya in Paris” I said as I jumped into my new truckie’s truck.
I tried to sleep behind his driving seat but I couldn’t and was beginning to regret my decision to go it alone. I nearly drifted off but the engine slowed down as my driver pulled off the autoroute. No longer a smooth road, I sat up and looked out of the window and into the darkness. The head lights shone on a track with tall trees either side shadowing onto the track. He pulled off the track and stopped in the middle of a forest.
I did try to tell him I had a boyfriend but he didn’t understand me. I pointed at my wedding ring finger but he still didn’t understand and I had no ring on it anyway, my rings went with the Greek thieves and I knew this could be worse than the Greek thief I went with one drunken night (I missed him out, buried him in Pelekas graveyard memory, but now I had a flash back of the pink jumper he sweated from) this could also be worse than the Leo Sayer lookalike (No. 22) and the lockjaw. Knowing it could be worse made it easier. Inside my head I recited ‘Derek and Clive’ .. ‘I was walking down the road one day and I saw a house on fire .. laugh …’ etc. And I laughed inside, there was no knife, no torture – I’d got away lightly, and was quite proud of myself. There was no such thing as a free lunch, free carafe of wine or a free bed for the night. Just a learning curve and if it turned out I had HIV, then I hoped he would have it too.
It felt like days had passed before Marni and I were reunited in a layby on the outskirts of Paris. She was later than me, her driver had stopped for a kip. Marni and I waved off the convoy.
“Get much sleep?” she asked.
“A bit, you?”
“Yeah, the wine knocked me out.”