The thrumming on her hood merged with the clatter of rain on the vehicles’ roofs in what she realized now was a carpark. Her feet felt raw, slashed. Her suede boots had not been made for hiking, let alone sprinting on wet tarmac.
She couldn’t believe she’d remained calm on the hard shoulder, in the squall, with the black moor on one side and on the other hundreds of stranded cars. A crash had brought twelve miles of traffic to a standstill. The tailback would only slow him down for so long. She didn’t have time to stand and listen to the rain. Directly ahead was a service station called Pitstop. Someone would recognize her there.
Blinking, she pigeon-stepped into an octagonal atrium. All of the tables in a seating area were occupied. Travellers lucky enough to get off the motorway were standing in the aisles. Others perched on the edges of tables. At the tables, families hunched over burger cartons and sandwich boxes. Men in sleeveless fleeces huffed and fiddled with smart phones. Fat women jiggled babies on their laps.
If Rufus were here he would complain that fat women should not be allowed to breed. The universal right to have children is a dangerous fantasy. When Rufus arrived he would probably start by reiterating that in strictly philosophical terms no one has any rights anyway.
Only a tall, bald, bespectacled man in a leather greatcoat, three rows back had a table to himself. But he was scribbling in a notebook, and he was bald.
She’d not pulled down her hood yet. Its fur trim hid her face. Her parka was still zipped. She must look bedraggled, blitzed, crazy. No would realize that Temple was back. She must sort herself out. At least she’d had the sense to whip her bag from the backseat of the car.
The man in the leather coat had a tattoo of a circuit board on the side of his head. If Rufus were here he would describe a man with a circuit board tattooed on the side of his head as a “dangerous fantasist.” The world according to Rufus is full of dangerous fantasists out to get Rufus.
She followed signs that led to a ladies washroom. Rufus would no doubt describe the creature that stared back at her from the washroom mirror as a dangerous fantasist. With the hood still pulled up and her black parka sodden she looked half seal, half chimney sweep’s brush. She could imagine Rufus, back out there on the motorway, whispering into his phone that she’d finally become another Christmas cracker.
She took down the hood. Her hair was dry, thankfully, but sticking out in frightwig tufts. She tried on a few facial expressions: smart-curious Temple, ice-queen aloof Temple, throes of passion Temple. She’d perfected these for her most celebrated role: Angela Taki in Songbirds 2: Adventures in the Sex Capital of the World. She could hold any of them for as long as she liked. They were her Temple emoticons.