Chapter Six

     An hour and a half later, Sam pulled into a gas station just
outside Albuquerque.  He had checked Kara's wallet and found
a gold Visa and a platinum American Express.  Twenty-one and
she's got these!

     A teenage boy, about 15 years old, ran up to the car from
the small booth that stood between the series of pumps.  "Can
I help you, ma'am," his pubescent voice squeaked before Sam
even had put the window entirely down.  "Wow, you're ...
you're that model, Kara, aren't you?!"

     Oh, god, I forgot about that.  "Yes, yes I am."

     "Wow, oh, wow.  The guys at school aren't gonna believe
this!"  He had stuck his hands into the pockets of a pair of
overalls that were three sizes too large, a grin that covered his
entire face showed braces.  He just stood there and stared as

     "That's great.  Would you mind filling it up, please."


     "Fill up the gas tank, please."

     "Oh, yeah, right.  Sure.  Do you want the oil checked,

     "Sure, why not."  Sam reached down and released the
hood.  The boy scrambled to start the gas flowing, then
checked the oil.  As he finished, the hood slammed down with
a resounding thud.  A sheepish, embarrassed look came over
the boy's face.  As he wiped his hands, he ran to the pump,
stopping the gas flow, then replaced the cap.

     "That'll be twenty-five dollars.  You're oil's fine, ma'am."

     Sam handed him the Visa.  "Uh, thanks, but don't call me
ma'am, okay?"

     "Okay," he paused, his cheeks effecting a rosy glow,
"Kara".  Taking the credit card, he ran into the booth where he
had originally emerged from, returning with the charge receipt. 
Handing it to Sam for his, or rather, Kara's signature, he also
produced a glossy page from a magazine.  "Would you mind
signing this, too?"  Sam took the proffered page.  Kara's face
stared up at him, her face made up advertising some new line
of cruelty-free make-up.  "Make it 'To Jason, with all my love,
Kara'."  To him, it was his own manly signature, but to the
boy, it was Kara's.

     "To Jason, with all my love, Kara," Sam gritted through his
teeth as he signed the page, and returned both items to the boy.

     "Gee, thanks.  Oh, here's your credit card.  Have a nice
day!"  With that, he turned, returning to his booth, living his

     "I sure hope I wasn't like that over some model or actress
when I was that age."  But somehow he knew he must have
been, all teenage boys have their unattainable fantasies, just like
adult men.  Sam putted the credit card back into Kara's purse,
then pulled up outside the restaurant next to the gas station.

     Entering the darken interior, the Leaper's eyes scanned the
room, locating the payphones in a distant corner.  As he walked
towards them, he searched Kara's purse, and, finding a quarter,
he grabbed the phonebook.  He quickly flipped to the yellow
pages listing airlines, his fingers sliding down the list: 
American, Delta, one or two he didn't recognize.  He called a 
few, and made a reservation on the first flight to Washington,
D.C.  He used Kara's credit card, and made a mental note to
have Al send her a cheque to cover the costs.  That was, if he
remembered when he next saw Al.

     He had four hours to kill before the flight left, so he
decided to at least have a meal before leaving.  He sat at a table
near the window and out of direct sight of the entrance, and
began to peruse the limited fare on the menu.  A waitress,
dressed in a typical 50's style waitressing outfit - pink uniform,
white pentagon-shaped apron with pink piping, a matching
headpiece with hairnet - approached him, carrying a coffee
carafe and mug.  The slippers on her feet made a scuffing
sound as she walked across the worn linoleum covering the

     "Hi ya, sweetie.  Don't recall seein' you around her
before?"  Her voice held a trace of a Southern accent.  She
placed the mug, the kind you would see in an old-fashioned
diner, down then, raising the carafe slightly, indicated with her
eyebrows 'Do you want some coffee?'

     "Yes, thank you," the Leaper replied.  As she poured
coffee into the heavy white mug, he spotted the nametag on her
shirt pocket.  Doris.  "I'm, uh, not from around here.  Just
passing through."

     "It's a long way to anywhere from here.  Got far to go?" 
She placed the carafe down with a thud, then pulled her order
pad from the pocket in her apron and the pencil from behind
her ear.

     "Washington.  I've got to catch a flight later this morning." 
He held the menu up, cutting off any further questions.

     Taking the hint, Doris held her order pad and pencil at the
ready.  "Ready to order?"

     "I'll have the full breakfast, eggs over easy, please," he
said, closing the menu and replacing it in its place behind the
sugar and napkin holder.

     Doris looked at him through her eyelashes.  "The full
breakfast?  That's pretty big.  You sure you can handle it?"

     "Yes, I'm sure."  As Doris gave him a look of uncertainty,
the realization of just who she was looking at came back to
him.  "I didn't get any dinner last night, so I'm pretty hungry
this morning."

     "Okay, doll.  Whatever you say," she said, sticking the
pencil back into its usual place, and ripping the page from her
order pad.  She ambled back behind the counter, and, placing
the piece of paper on an old-fashioned stainless steel wheel that
holds orders for the cook, yelled back into the kitchen.  "Hey,
Mort, I need a full breakfast, over easy."

     A large hand with hairy knuckles, attached to an equally
hairy arm, reached up and grabbed the order from the wheel. 
Sam could hear a grumbled acknowledgement coming from
behind the wall separating the two areas of the diner. 

     Gazing out the window into the morning sun, the Leaper
sipped his coffee, then pulled the address book from his pants
pocket.  Flipping the pages, he found he recognized most of the
names.  A few, though, were too old to recall.  Donna Elesee,
Tom, Katie, Mom, Verbeena Beeks, Al, Gushie, Tina
Martinez-O'Farrell, all names he remembered.  Occasionally,
he would try to remember the telephone numbers before
actually looking at them testing to see if anything would come
throught his swiss-cheese memory.  Most often he couldn't.

     As the waitress brought his meal, Sam put the address book
into the purse he now must carry with him, stuffing it between
the wallet and compact.  Playing the part of woman involves so
much paraphernalia, Sam thought.  He dove into his breakfast
as if he hadn't eaten for days.  Feeling eyes watching him, he
slowed his eating, looking at the rest of the room through
eyelashes longer than his own.  I guess people don't expect to
see a fashion model eating like a trucker.  He weakly smiled at
the man at the counter who had been watching him, then
refocusing on his plate, returned to his meal.

     Without warning, a large male body slid into the seat
opposite his, followed by a coffee cup clunking onto the table. 
"Hi, darlin'.  Here all alone?"  His breath reeked of coffee,
cigarettes and several days of truckstop food.  Sam leaned back,
trying to avoid the smell.

     "Just passing through," he said, refraining from making eye

     "Well, a pretty young thing like you shouldn't be out and
about so early, especially by yourself."  The trucker reached
out, touching the hand that lay on the table.  Sam recoiled from
the touch, placing his hand in his lap.  The man slowly drew
his hand back across the table.  "No, it can be pretty dangerous
out there for someone as young and sweet as you."  Gawd, this
guy is trying to pick me up!  Yuck!

     "Rolly, leave the girl alone, will ya?  Let her eat in peace." 
The waitress had returned, or more accurately, had come to
Sam's rescue.

     "Geez, Louise, Doris, I was just havin' some fun."  He
stood up and, with a final gaze at Sam, picked up his mug and
returned to his place at the counter.

      "Don't pay no mind to Rolly.  He's just lonely, with it
being Christmas an' all.  Ain't got no family to speak of."  The
sympathy in her eyes made Sam give the man a second look.

     Placing his fork on the side of the plate, he reached into
Kara's wallet, he pulled out a twenty dollar bill.  "Will this
cover both our bills?"

     "And then some."

     "Let me pay for his meal, but, wait until I'm gone, okay? 
Whatever's left over, keep for yourself."

     The waitress took the money.  "Sure thing," she said, then
turned back to her regular position behind the counter, leaving
Sam to finish his meal in peace.

      Four hours later, Sam sat in the seat of a plane, the make
and model of which he didn't recognize.  Obviously something
else to look forward to when I get home.  He settled in for
what he hoped would be an unadventurous trip East.  He had
inspected the trunk of Kara's car before leaving it in the
parking lot of the airport.  Apparently she was planning to be
in Chicago, or some other northern environment, in the near
future, as he had found a suitcase packed for colder weather,
together with a winter coat.  He had checked the bag, carrying
the coat onboard with him.