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Adventures at the Pump
by Stefi Sparer
Please don’t come over here, please don’t come over here, please don’t come over here.
A man, twice the size of myself, is zigging around on a bicycle in front of the Shell station I’m at. And I’m nervous. It’s one AM and I had the feeling I was going to get raped tonight. I also desperately needed gas, so I took the chance. He is dressed like a homeless man trying not to look homeless. Or like a college student trying to be artsy. He slowly rides over to the pump I’m at and eyes my car up and down like he’s giving a beautiful woman the once over. That’s it. I’m toast. I silently pray to any god or demigod who will listen; Don’t let me die tonight. Not like this. My legs aren’t even shaven. I am careful to avoid eye contact as his eyes move from my car to me. I wonder if he notices that my shirt matches the color of my car? I wonder if he knows I planned that?
“Hola,” he says.
I ignore the man and instead pretend to be focused on the digital numbers telling me how much money the government is taking from me: $2.46, $14.72, $32.56, the figures move so quickly it makes me dizzy.
He clears his throat and peddles a little closer to me, “Hola!” he says louder.
Oh crap. He circles the pump and waits for me to respond, mouthing off something else in Spanish that two years in high school couldn’t help me decipher. I debate whether or not I should respond. Then decide to respond as to humanize myself. I learned that on CSI or Law and Order or maybe Oprah. I also decide to play dumb. And in a split second decision- Russian.
“Previet,” I say v Russki. He breaks and cocks his head to the side like a dog listening to their master. He tries English instead.
“Do you have money?” he wants to know. Now I’m nervous. I don’t have cash on me or any identification. My purse is at home. I have one credit card in my pocket. When he kidnaps me, steals my credit card, and takes me deep into the desert to rape me, then finally kills me, the police will have to get my dental records to identify my body, which has decomposed by this time.
I shake my head and answer him simply, “Niet, no.”
He takes another look at my car, then back at me. “None?”
Jesus, I think, it’s just a Dodge.
“Nol, pagalstah.” I give my sorriest look to show I might be sincere.
He reaches out to touch the hood of my car and I press my panic button, causing my headlights to flash and my horn to screech, which sends the man scurrying away, “Lo siento! Gracias!” he shouts as he peddles as fast as his legs can manage.
I am so frightened that I get back into my car so quickly that I don’t bother getting a receipt for the 90 dollars I spent on gas and I forget to close the fuel door. It isn’t until I am almost to my house that I realize I was listening to bad pop music the entire way home.
Stefi luckily managed to not get knocked the fuck out.