I pulled into a parking slot next to
the area we had used that morning.
We had the parking lot all to ourselves.
To the west we had a two-story wall,
brick and windowless. To the east were trees.
North of us were tennis courts with no lights
now that it was past ten o’clock at night.
South of us was a curving access road
with shrubbery and other landscaping.
There was one tall, circular light fixture
in the center of the parking lot but
we were parked nearer the wall and the light
didn’t even cast shadows that far off.
As parking lots go, we had privacy,
but it was still an outdoor parking lot.
“Umm, dig it,” Shelby said. “It’s like our own
lovers’ lane. An asphalt-paved motel room.”
I switched off the engine. “Listen, Shelby,
this is kind of freaky. You feel okay?”
“I feel,” Shelby said, leaning to me and
kissing my cheek, “absolutely entranced.”
She opened her door. The dome light went on.
Shelby fiddled with the overhead switch
and turned off the light. She stretched out her legs,
unbuttoned her dress and kicked off her shoes.
“Come on, Mister Indoor Guy,” Shelby said.
“Why don’t we do it in the road?” She grabbed
my hand, then let herself tumble sideways
out of the passenger seat and onto
the asphalt. I let her pull me with her.
Shelby lay with the asphalt under her
and me on top of her with nothing but
my clothes and the thin strings and thin fabric
of her lingerie between our bodies.
“The asphalt,” Shelby said, “feels softer than
a fancy hotel room’s fancy mattress.”
Shelby’s face was flushed and she looked at me
with an unbounded intensity that
made it possible for me to ignore
or forget or just plain not care about
the fact that we were in a parking lot.
I kissed her and she kissed me back, deep, hard.
Shelby’s hands moved down to my waist. She reached
to unbutton my jeans. But then she stopped.
I felt her squirm, slightly, underneath me.
I kissed her ear. “Am I heavy?” I asked.
“Do you want me to—”
by smiling, shaking her head. “No,” she said.
“You’re fine. I just feel something under me.
Must be a pebble or something. Let me—”
Shelby squirmed, again, to shift position.
“How’s that?” I asked. “Did you get off of it?”
“No,” Shelby said. Her lips formed a tight line.
“No,” she said, again. “In fact, it is worse.”
I shifted my weight onto my knees and
one elbow to let her move more freely.
“Ow!” Shelby said. “It kind of hurts. Maybe
there’s little pieces of glass or something.”
I pulled up my knees and sat back against
my heels. I reached down. “Here, sit up,” I said.
“I’ll brush off whatever is on your back.”
Shelby tried to sit up but winced in pain.
“It’s my skin,” she said. “It’s caught on something.”
I shifted sideways and brought my right knee
over Shelby’s legs and kneeled next to her.
I put my hand on her stomach to try
and calm her. “Tell me where you’re stuck,” I said.
She looked at me, her eyes wide, very round.
Color drained from her face. Her skin was white.
“My shoulders,” she said. “I can’t move at all.
But now there’s something under my legs, too.
It hurts. It’s like it’s cutting into me.”
I put my right hand on her shoulder and
tried to slip my left hand underneath her.
I felt something wet against the asphalt
and I felt the space between the asphalt
and Shelby’s skin narrow, become hard, tight.
The space compressed further, almost tugging
at my fingers reaching underneath her.
I pulled back my hand. Blood dripped from my skin.
Shelby moaned. She said, “I think I may scream.”
“My phone is in the car,” I said. “I’ll call—”
Shelby lifted her arm at the elbow
and grabbed my wrist. “Do not leave me even
for a second,” she said. “I’m gonna try
to force myself up. I cannot stand this.”
Shelby closed her eyes. Her grip on my wrist
tightened. I saw her stomach muscles flex.
She screamed. The sound was like the night itself
reached down out of the sky and slapped my face.
I shifted my weight back over Shelby.
I pushed my left hand behind her ribs and
was able to reach fully behind her.
“I’ve got my hand underneath you,” I said.
“I’m going to try and pull you upward.”
I put my right hand against her right arm.
“Pull me up now,” Shelby sobbed. “I don’t care
what happens to my shoulders or my legs.”
I braced my knees then shifted my weight back.
Shelby’s spine stiffened and her chest arched but
her shoulders and hips stayed fixed to the ground.
Shelby screamed. I almost fell because blood
from under her hips made my knees slippery.
“Shelby,” I said, “I have to get the phone.”
“Don’t let me go for one second,” she said.
“This fucking ground will eat me if you do.”
The pain is making her manic, I thought.
And the blood and screaming and poor Shelby
crying in her underwear were messing
with my own thinking because then it looked
like she was sinking down into the ground.
It looked like the asphalt was eating her.
Shelby grimaced and wrenched her head from side
to side. She forced her head up to look down
at her body. She lifted both her arms,
bending them at the elbows and she grabbed
at the tiny triangles of fabric
that still covered her breasts. She spoke, her voice
hardly more than a growl. “It’s this fucking
underwear,” she said. And she ripped downward,
breaking the string, tearing the bra in two.
At that instant both her shoulders pulled free.
I didn’t know what I was doing or
why, but I reached down and grabbed her panties.
I crumpled the fabric and pulled, breaking
the strings at her hips. Her legs twisted free.
Next thing I knew Shelby was off the ground
and had her arms and legs wrapped around me.
I half stood up but just let us both fall
into the passenger seat of my car.
I dragged us over and pulled the door closed.
When Shelby heard the door slam behind her
she let her arms and legs go limp. She sagged
back against the seat. I twisted further
and turned the key still in the ignition.
Shelby was crying in relief, banging
both fists against the passenger door lock.
I rolled backward into the driver’s seat,
shifted into drive and pounded my foot
against the accelerator. My car
fishtailed as the drive tire burned rubber but
traction took hold and the car leaped forward.
I don’t remember if I drove out through
an exit or over the sidewalk but
we got out of that fucking parking lot.
(Tomorrow: Parking Lots At Night #4: The Next Day)