Liza plopped in the driver’s seat and yanked the door shut. It was nine thirty. The three-hour evening classes killed her, but it was all that she could manage right now.
Liza downed the warm remnants of the energy drink that was sitting in the cup holder. The air conditioner wasn’t working again, so she rolled down the windows as she pulled out of her spot on 2nd Street. Liza grew up here and quickly zoned out to the rhythmic stop and go of city traffic.
At a light a few blocks later she was idly watching a man walk down the street. Something about him caught her attention. At first it was his steady, deliberate walk. Then she noticed the orange t-shirt. She wondered where he was going. There were parking lots and bus stops on campus. The light turned green and she crept forward, careful to stay behind him. Why? Like he was going to recognize her car?
Someone behind her leaned on their horn and sped around her, yelling as they passed. He turned his head just as she came abreast of him and they locked eyes. Shit! Busted twice in one night. He stopped walking and turned to face her, crouching down slightly to peer through the window of her tiny Focus.
“Want a ride?” she asked. He shrugged his shoulders but walked up to the car and opened the passenger’s side door, unleashing an avalanche of junk onto the street. Mental head slap. So much for making a good first impression. Maybe he was into being stalked by a woman who lived like a sixty-year-old truck driver.
He passed his books to Liza and bent down to scoop up her junk from the street. He tossed armfuls of stuff back in the foot well: empty takeout containers, a tube of mascara, receipts, crumpled cigarette packs, a softball, a broken phone mount, a butterfly knife, a stack of business cards, and one of Casey’s glittery art projects. The last he laid carefully on the dash before jumping in and arranging his long legs around the junk and taking his books back.
“Hi, I’m Bruce,” he said, holding out his hand.