“You know what I long for, Lord; You hear my every sigh.” Psalm 38:9 NLT
Tong. Tong. Tong. Tong. The railroad crossing bell kept rhythm with the red alternating signal lights. She could keep walking east or she could turn south on the rural route, perhaps finding at least a village or a small town, where she could replenish her supplies. Hunger and thirst made the decision for her.
As she entered the small town, she searched for a QuikMart. She would buy some snack food and fill her canteen in the bathroom, maybe even splurge, and buy a Coke. She kept her head down, so as to not attract attention. As soon as he spotted her, the owner of the farm supply called the local police. It was his civic duty to alert the police. And this girl looked like your typical runaway.
While she was in the bathroom, filling her canteen, the policeman parked outside the QuikMart. As she exited, she forgot to keep her eyes to herself and she noticed the policeman. The bell rang as she pulled opened the glass door. The policeman got out of the car and followed her into the store.
She had nowhere to hide, so she busied herself with the snack aisle. Maybe he would just get his coffee and leave. A tap on her shoulder. “Hey kid, what’s your name?” She didn’t answer. He cleared his throat and stood behind her staring at her stringy blond hair. “I asked you a question, young lady.” A thought popped into her head.
“Shirley Verne,” she lied.
“Well, Shirley Verne, being as I’m the head policeman around here, I’m responsible for this town, and we don’t abide having vagrants hanging around.”
“I’m no vagrant,” she sputtered. “I have a right to be here. I got money. What’s it to you whether I’m here or not? I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Well, strange, unkempt girls are bound for trouble, if you ask me.”
“I didn’t ASK you. Leave me alone. I’ll be out of your way soon enough. I’m headed to New York City.” She studied the Pringles cans on the bottom shelf.
He stifled a laugh. “Alrighty then, how about I give you a lift to the bus station, Shirley girl.”
“Uh. No, that’s not necessary. I can find my own way.” Her stomach lurched, and she decided she would buy the Pringles and a Coke, just as soon as she could dodge this cop.
He laughed outright. “Well, that will be some hike seeing that New York City is two states away and at least another thousand miles from hereabouts.”
She sighed. And then faked a yawn, as she tried to hide her disappointment from the nosy policeman. She wanted to curl up in the corner. Her mother loomed in her mind, frowning and counting out the money in her tin can. The girl stumbled forward and knocked the row of Pringles cans to the floor. The policeman caught her just as she fainted.