It always disturbs me when we’re riding along, out in the middle of nowhere, and see someone walking in a place there are clearly no destinations or any place for them to have come from. I worry over these people, I think about them for days after we see them.
We were on 40, heading into California. To the right of us was the Mojave Desert. To the left was a bunch of stuff that looked exactly like the Mojave, but just didn’t make it into the land survey. We hadn’t seen anything but a decrepit rest area for miles. Looking out the window (which is what I spend an inordinate amount of time doing), I noticed a woman off in the distance, on the Mojave side, carrying shopping bags and walking fast, like she really had somewhere to go.
“What’s ahead of us?”
“Not much until we hit Barstow, which is about 30 miles on up.”
“Where the hell did that lady come from?”
“That lady over there — she’s got grocery bags and is moving fast.”
“Who knows,babe? Someone might have dropped her off.”
“She’s a quarter mile from the road, behind a fence. I don’t think she was dropped off on the highway.”
“I have no idea.”
“I do. I’ll bet anything she was in the Walmart parking lot in Peoria last night when she suddenly saw a bright light and ended up in the Mojave with a BB in her nose and a sore butt. We should stop and see if she needs help. Call NASA.”
“OK, first of all, we’re three miles down the road now and I’m not stopping. Second of all, I don’t have the number to NASA on speed dial. Third, she probably has an underground meth lab out there somewhere she was taking supplies to.”
“Her name is Rosalita.”
“I have to give her a name, she can’t just be ‘the lady walking in the Mojave with BBs in her nose’ forever.”
“Look, I’m going to be thinking about her for days, wondering if she made it home to Peoria and her family of nine children. Her dogs miss her, and she’ll lose her job if she doesn’t get back soon.”
“So now she has nine kids and dogs and a job? You could tell all of this from the three seconds you saw her from the window?”
“Yes. And now I’m distraught. I’m going to need a frappe to make this better.”
“Somehow I don’t think a frappe is going to cure what ails you.”
“I’m glad you can joke about my emotional distress.”
“Babe, with you, it’s laugh or cry.”
On March 18, Weddle’s trailer crossed over the centerline of the highway, ...