Alone and Afraid
Chapter 3: Helping Taylor

I drove over to a store for cellular products. I had to break in and then had to find the alarm and switch it off. We found a phone she liked and I managed to activate it on my account. I called her and then had to show her how to answer and operate it. I put my number, Bert’s, and Ed’s into it explaining who they are.

We left there and I said, “What kind of car or truck would you like?”

She smiled. “I want a Ford. Dad always said they were the best.”

“They are a good brand.” We pulled in at a Ford dealer and she wandered over to the used lot. “Taylor, let’s look at new trucks. You can have anything you want. Why not get new?”

She looked nervous but nodded. We found a number of similarly equipped trucks in a size she liked in different colors. We went into the showroom area. I sat her down. “Taylor, what’s going on? You’ve been nervous from the time you got in the car with me. I’m not going to bite you or make you do anything even if I think it’s best for you.”

She looked at me cautiously, “I’m afraid of you. My parents warned me that men will try to take advantage of a girl. I don’t want to be hurt.”

I took a deep breath. “Taylor, that’s a generalization. All men don’t fit into that category. I don’t and won’t. It is my intention to help you in your survival and then move on. I plan to leave you with a phone that has my number and that of the only two other people that I know are alive. If you permit it, I will leave you with a new truck. You can always give the phone back and do without. I will drop you back at that pickup or any other place you want to be left.”

I sighed. “I would like us to be friends. You are sixteen?”

“Seventeen.”

“Okay, seventeen. That makes you ten years younger than me. In my entire life, I have never had a romance with someone more than two years different in age. My little sister is much older than you.”

She looked troubled. “Brian, you don’t think I’m pretty? Or do you think I’m just too dumb?”

To myself, I said, “Pick a horse young lady!” Out loud, I said, “Taylor, I think you’re pretty girl. I also don’t think you are dumb. However, we have nothing in common other than that we’re alive. There is nothing that suggests a romantic relationship. I am not a candidate for casual sex. I do think we can be friends. Other than simply friends, I have no agenda and do not want to take advantage of you.”

I couldn’t tell if she was disappointed or glad to hear that. I didn’t understand women or girls even with two sisters. She appeared to be thinking. I said, “While you think about a truck, why don’t we find some place and have some lunch? It’s one o’clock and I’m hungry. I was going to get something before getting back on the road for Nashville.”

She nodded. We went back to the Buick and I found a Longhorn’s. I pulled into the lot and gently broke in. Inside, we found food in the cooler, lit the grill, and cooked a couple of fillets. I showed Taylor how to cook fries and she made plenty of fries for both of us. We had the lights on and we sat down to eat. As we ate, Taylor drilled me with questions.

“Brian, what happened?”

“I don’t know. I went to sleep in the motel room Saturday night and woke up Monday morning. That troubled me but I let that go when I couldn’t find any people. The other two people I have talked with were in Augusta. One of them woke Sunday afternoon and his wife had vanished while in bed with him though he slept through it. The other woke up Monday morning. You woke up Sunday. No one left notes and there are no scientists to my knowledge who are left around to study the situation. I’m pretty good at planning projects and I would have no idea how to tackle this one.”

I don’t think that was comforting. I wasn’t happy with my tale either. She asked, “When will the government and people show up?”

“Taylor, I don’t think they will. That’s just my opinion but I think your parents and your brother, Bert’s wife, and my sisters are gone never to be seen or heard from again. I don’t like that answer but it is the one that seems to be real. I have no idea what happened or why. We may never find out unless someone returns.

“Likewise, I think the government is gone, too. That means no police, no help if you get in trouble except for those of us who have found each other after the event.

“I told you that I’m going to Nashville. I want to look for my sisters even though I don’t expect to find them. The three of us were all that was left of our family. My older sister was married but her husband was not friendly to me.

“After Nashville, I have planned to return to Augusta. Bert and Ed are there. They are good guys and we got along for the short time we worked together. They know that area and Bert wants to farm. I know Nashville but not like they know their area. That’s the plan I have and why.”

We finished eating lunch. I drove her back to the Ford dealer. I said, “Do you want any help picking out a truck and getting it going?” She shook her head. I said, “Then, I wish you all the best of everything.” I stuck out my hand. “Good luck.”

Taylor took my hand and pulled it to her holding it tightly. “You can’t leave.”

“Taylor, you’ve made it clear that your plans and mine don’t go together and that you don’t trust me. I understand. I will not press myself on you. You have to make your choices just as I must make mine.” I paused. “Good bye.”

1. I gently but firmly pulled my hand away from her. She looked at me for a long moment. Then, she opened the door of the Buick and got out. She pushed the door closed. I waved and started to drive off. She screamed, “Wait!” She jerked the door open. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t know what to do. I didn’t think you would really leave.”

“Taylor, what else would I have done? I have been honest and consistent in what I have said and done. I haven’t asked anything of you. I still don’t. You still don’t trust me. I understand and don’t ask you to trust me now. However, what kind of friendship could we have? You don’t trust me or my motives and I am not comfortable being in a situation like that.

“I really hope you find someone you deem trustworthy. Unless I need to help you with something in particular, I would like to head north.”

“Brian, please shut off the car and come inside. I need to talk and you need to listen.” I shrugged but turned off the motor and got out. We went inside the showroom and I sat down in a chair and waited. She sat down across from me at the desk. She said, “I need to tell you about my history. I’m afraid that then you will be disgusted and leave anyway but you seem to be a different kind of man from any I have met.”

She seemed to shake herself mentally and began. “My story starts about five years ago when my mother died. She was killed in an accident on the farm. I didn’t know until after she was dead that my brother had been bedding her along with my father for a few years. They forced me to take her place. I was part of their friends’ party group. There were six of us, wives or daughters. There were ten or twelve men. Saturday was another party night. I was sore when they all tired of us. I was the youngest and best looking so that made me popular. I woke up about two in the morning to gun shots. I grabbed some clothes and ran outside even before I dressed. I slept in Dad’s pickup. I woke up to the heat Sunday afternoon. No one was there except one father who was lying in a bed. He had been shot. Everyone else was gone. I found the keys and drove home. I didn’t know what to do.

“One of the guys raised attack dogs. They were following the truck. I don’t know what they would have done but I was glad they stayed with the truck. I have nothing here and my experience with men hasn’t been good. I was thankful to have escaped from one bad situation and didn’t want to be captured and forced into another.

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