Now back in Missouri, Spencer pulled off the highway and into a gas station. Kate woke up and asked, “Where are we?”
“Still a few hours northwest of St. Louis. Do you need anything?”
After a yawn and a stretch, she answered, “I need to use the restroom and check Sarah’s diaper.”
“Okay, I’ll fill up while you do that.” He turned to slide out of the car, then thought he better ask if she needed help.
“I got it. Thanks.” Kate got out of the car and took Sarah inside, hoping the bathroom was decent enough to use, and to change a diaper in. Stacks of soda and beer were on her right and she looked past them for the restroom sign and headed that way. The cashier had brown hair with freckles, so she should be ok. Perhaps now because she had a small child, Kate noticed that the gas stations operated by some foreigners were dirtier and less kept up than those owned by Americans. She made a mental note for the future, to stop only at American-run gas stations if she could tell the difference.
“Sweetie, let’s get you changed and then I’ll go….potty.” Kate hefted Sarah up to the changing table after spraying it down with Lysol from the bag. She changed Sarah’s wet diaper and finished up in the bathroom. She had to get used to carrying a diaper bag, holding a toddler’s hand, and trying to wash her hands at the same time. Challenging. She caught herself yawning several times and wondered why she was so tired. She hadn’t slept well in the hotel the night before, worried she might crush Sarah. But still she was yawning an awful lot.
Kate saw Spencer right outside the doorway and he wrapped his arm around her and whispered, “There are some interesting characters here. Are you ready to go the car, or did you want anything to eat or drink?”
Kate frowned. “I’m fine, but I should fill her sippy cup with water.” She fished a pink plastic cup with yellow flowers on it from the diaper bag.
“Let me take Sarah then, but let’s stay together. We can get her water from the fountain and get out of here. It’s making me nervous.”
If Spencer was nervous, Kate was fearful. She quickly passed Sarah over and got the lid off the cup all the while heading to the fountain. She refilled it with water, replaced the lid and turned to Spencer. She saw huge tears on Sarah’s face. “What’s wrong, honey?”
Spencer looked down and saw Sarah’s tears. “Let’s switch and get out of here.”
Kate took Sarah back and she leaned her head on Kate’s shoulder. “We’re all right, ok, honey?” Spencer again put his arm protectively around Kate and they walked quickly to the car and strapped in and left.
“What was that all about, anyway?” Kate asked after they returned to the highway.
“I’m not sure. But I saw some suspicious guys come in and they didn’t look like they were there for gas or drinks. I didn’t want to stick around and find out.”
Spencer breathed a sigh of relief when they got back onto the interstate. What he hadn’t said was that he saw one of them pass a baggie of white powder to someone and Spencer pretended he hadn’t seen it. He played the part of daddy and husband and got the heck out of there with all of them in one piece.
Until next time,