Mary Jane was speechless. The old woman took her hand and gave her a leather pouch on a string.
“These will help you know who you are looking for,” she said, “It is not your last dance, not your last dance.” The old woman smiled once more and slipped away from Mary Jane. Its not your last dance, floated in her mind, it was haunting, a lyric from her song, it was guiding her again.
She felt slightly creeped out by the experience, but wondered what was reality or if maybe she had listened to The Doors way too much over her lifespan. Maybe it was the coffee that tasted like cheap hotel soap.
She shook the thought from her mind and ran to her room, locked the door behind her, and flopped down on the rusty orange comforter of the bed. She dumped out the contents of the pouch on the bed and pondered them. One was a postmark cut off of an envelope, it was from a few weeks ago somewhere in California. The next object was a silver harmonica with the initials H.R. scratched into the side.
Mary Jane spent three days on the road after that, mulling around the arid Arizona landscape until she made herself to cross into New Mexico. She was convinced that the old woman had been right somehow, that she really did have some kind of spiritual desert journey to fulfill. But, Mary Jane was still trying to get the whole concept.
She was sweaty and tired and wanted nothing more than a nice glass of Diet Coke to ward off the heat exhaustion. That’s when she saw it, the roadside diner popping out of the middle of nowhere. She pulled over and sat slumped in the driver’s seat for a moment, wondering what she was doing. She should turn around, go home, she thought, this was stupid.
But she wasn’t turning around until she got a Diet Coke, that was for sure. The place only had a few customers but Mary Jane shuffled her way to the door, head down, feeling completely beat. Without looking she ran straight into someone and her little leather pouch from the native woman fell to the ground with a thud.
“Here, let me help you,” a voice said, picking Mary Jane up. She instantly locked eyes with a scruffy young man with an impish smile. The pouch had spilled out its contents and he bent down to pick them up, but stopped short at the sight of the harmonica.
“Where did you get this?” He said, looking at Mary Jane curiously.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” She replied, dusting the warm sand from her cutoff shorts.
“Trust me, if there’s an old native woman involved, I surely will,” he said, squinting back the bright sun.
“Wait,” Mary Jane said, “Did you say old native woman?”
“Yeah, she stole this from me, not to mention my wallet, and my bus ticket,” he said annoyed.
“That’s so weird, because she came up to me three days ago and asked me to find the owners of these objects,” Mary Jane said motioning to the pouch.
“We should talk this over,” he said looking around suspiciously.
“Over Diet Coke would be preffered,” she said with a laugh.
They sat down in a pink vinyl booth and sucked down one Diet Coke after the other.
“My name is Holden, Holden Rice. I’m a musician, on my to California. I’m meeting my friend Matt and his manager…well, I was anyway. Until that crazy woman robbed me. What did you say your name was?”
“Mary Jane,” she said, swatting a bug away from her face, “I’m on some kind of spiritual journey. Apparently you are my target.”
“What’s that supposed to mean,” he said.
“Well, supposedly I’m supposed to help two people, the owners of the objects, and help them find love or something ridiculous like that,” Mary Jane said, blankly staring out the window and the cloudless sky.
“Weird,” Holden said, “So what’s the other object?” Mary Jane held out the piece of envelope and he studied it.
“This is weird,” he said.
“This zip code, its the same as Matt’s. And this stamp…its the same exact stamp I got a couple weeks ago on a letter from his manager who refuses to only correspond by typewriter.”
“So,” Mary Jane began, “This must be yours too.”
“No, I only have two letters from him, and I have both of them here,” Holden said, pulling the letters out to show Mary Jane. The envelopes were intact.
“So what does this mean?” Mary Jane asked.
“There must be another band member lost in the desert?” Holden offered.
“You know, you could be right. Maybe this is my journey, to help your band…or something,” Mary Jane said, “Do you want a ride to California?”
“But you just came from there,” Holden said.
“Yeah, well, this is important I guess. Its not like I was really accomplishing anything.”
“Yeah, as long as you don’t murder me or anything like some maniac hitchhiker.”
“Deal,” Holden said, holding out a hand for them to shake on it.
They spent three hours in the diner talking and caffienating themselves before they decided to hit the road once more. Mary Jane felt better now that she wasn’t alone anymore, even if she was taking a chance with a stranger.