“Don’t turn around. Don’t stop. Keep driving.”
At first she was more startled at who the man in the trunk looked like
than the idea that there was a man back there at all. The third seat was
down to accommodate skis, and it was through this aperture that the
stranger crawled, holding a knife that glinted like a knife in the sunlight.
“What the fuck!” she said.
Swiftly and roughly the man moved the skis to the side and adjusted himself beside her daughter’s turquoise car seat. The child said,
“Momma?” and began to take rapid little breaths that BRB had never
The fucker looked like Joe. It wasn’t him but God did it look like him.
Same red bull face of a man who not enough women had wanted to fuck.
“You better put her at ease. I’m Uncle Jim, right.”
BRB’s heart banged in her chest. She wasn’t wearing a bra. In the
rearview, she saw her daughter’s face, terrified, and so very close to it, she
saw three-quarters of the man’s face. Pockmarked, pedophilic.
The child’s hands reached forward in the air.
“Baby, baby, it’s OK!” BRB was crying. She laughed. “It’s Uncle Jim!
Holy shit, Uncle Jim! When did you get here!”
The child snuck a look at the stranger then turned her eyes back to
the rearview mirror. The man had moved the knife over to the top of
the car seat, the blade pointing inches above the child’s blond head. BRB
nodded at her daughter, smiling madly. “Baby, it’s OK, it’s Uncle Jim, it’s,
it’s Daddy’s other brother.” To the man: “What the—are you doing here,
“Just passing through.”
“What do you need?”
“Just keep driving till everyone settles down. What’s the kid’s name?”
“I heard a lot about you, Madeline, from your daddy.”
Hearing the kid’s name on the stranger’s tongue made vomit rise up
in BRB’s throat. It tasted like the cracked wheat bread she’d eaten for
breakfast. She swallowed it down. She wasn’t sure if she was more scared
that it was a stranger than if it had been Joe.
At home her husband would be sitting down now, after having done
the morning dishes. He’d be opening a laptop and texting her the shopping list. Since the arrival of the kid, they’d gotten into the habit of tell-