"You seem to be in deep shit."
She shrugged. Then conceded, "Yeah. Deep, deep shit."
"Anything I can do to help?"
She ran her palms over her denim-clad thighs. "Distract me," she said. "Just keep distracting me."
"More cards?" he asked.
"Nah," she said. "Can you just? Would you...hold my hand?"
The bus's brakes squealed into the Port Authority terminal just after 2 am. Tamara and Paul stepped off, smacked by a gust of cool air, and Tamara couldn't help grinning. Here they were. Here she was. 900 miles from home in the middle of the night.
Free of baggage, they strode inside.
She'd imagined hanging out in the bus station for a while, snacking, contemplating, trying to decide her next course of action. But when she smelled the piss, heard someone screaming about the "Motherfucking aliens who drank all the motherfucking coffee" and took in the gray pallor of the place, she knew they'd just pass through.
"God," she said. "This makes Milwaukee's station look like a palace."
"This makes anything else look like a palace."
She said, "At least I could throw up in the corner here and no one would notice."
He nodded, glancing around, alert. Tamara was grateful to have him with her. How did she think she could do this alone? Stupid Midwestern hick. Stupid pregnant midwestern hick.
Just then, a mouse skittered across Tamara's path. She squealed and jumped back.
"Oh, it's just a little rodent, c'mon."
She caught up to Paul again, panting more heavily than she would've liked. "Where are we going?" she asked.
Their voices echoed in the mostly empty corridor. Two cops ambled past, in no hurry. "Queens. My buddy Brad's."
"But, where's your girlfriend?" Tamara said, trying not to breathe through her nose.
"I'm gonna meet up with her this weekend. Hey, you have a cell phone on you?"
"What? Jesus. You're an upper middle class woman with no cell phone?"
She said, "I didn't think to grab it." There were a lot of things she didn't think to grab. Sanity, for one. Common sense, for another. She said, "Does Brad not know we're coming?"
Paul chortled. "He knows I'm coming. But I thought I'd give him a heads up that I, you know, have a chick with me."
"A chick?" Tamara muttered, almost without moving her lips. She liked it. A chick. She was a chick. No one here knew she was married with three kids and another sprouting vertebrae in her belly. And no one had to. Louder now, she said, "Could you just keep it to yourself? About my being pregnant?"
"Sh-yah," he said. "I'm not telling noooobody."
"Good, thanks," she said.
They walked past sprawling bank of glass doors and Tamara looked longingly at them, wanting to push out into the night, to vault out of the rabbit hole and see people, too many people for so late. Cars honking. Taxis. Bongos. A harmonica. Screaming tableaus of technicolor lights.
But they continued down a white-tiled stairway and through a labyrinth of more eery hallways until they came to a subway platform. She stood near Paul.
"No one knows where I am," she said.
"No one knows where I am. Except you." She grinned again.
Suddenly, her exhaustion and hunger and nausea didn't matter. She stood, listening the low rumble of the train, sensing its heat, wanting to jump on and get going.