The hot water stung her cheeks as Marlene washed it in the women's restroom at the Citgo gas station. She had walked four blocks west of last nights roommate hoping she wouldn’t run into him on his was back to work. She needed to get across town back to the club so that she could change, the club owner Peter had worked out a deal with Marlene, she could keep her clothes and personal belongings locked in the back room, if should could keep customers coming. Of course that was no problem with her stunning looks and flashy style, not to mention her flirtatious attitude. It was no secret men kept coming to find out more about the flirty red head they had met during the day.
Marlene would hang around coffee shops in the morning hours and meet interns, at noon she would be at bistros and meet both single and married men. And after every encounter they would always ask her plans for the evening, and her reply would always be “Club Forte,” most of the men she would see that night, making passes at her and almost always one luck one would get their shot with “the hot, young red-head.” The married men would get hotel rooms and call home to their wives saying they were working through the night, and the single men would take Marlene back to their apartments.
Jessie rushed through his shower, threw on a pair of blue jeans and a navy blue “Hamilton Construction” t-shirt. Once he was dressed he stuffed a few changes of clothes, a travel toothbrush, his deodorant and cologne, along with his cellphone charger into a black duffel bag. With a thud the duffel bag hit the metal bed of Jessie’s 1972 Ford F-100 Custom that his grandfather had given him as a sixteenth birthday present. Jessie jumped into the cab falling back against the auburn colored cloth that had faded from the years of Texas summer sunlight. The engine roared to life as he turned the key, Jessie let the truck idle for a few moments before pulling the truck into drive and heading towards the interstate. Jessie know this drive too well, he and his dad had been making it three times a year since his mother passed fifteen years ago. the drove the twenty hours at Easter, once during summer vacation, and at Thanksgiving. Aunt Samantha would come when she could but considering her failing health, that wasn’t often. Jessie sped down the on ramp of Interstate 90 heading east. He had stopped about a mile from I-90 at a small gas station and had left with two plastic bags filled with drinks, both water and soda, as well as various snack foods.
Traffic had a steady flow through much of Texas, he only had to stop one time while traveling through Dallas. As Jessie crossed the Arkansas border he checked his cellphone making sure he hadn’t missed a call. With a slow hand Jessie turned on the radio, he had been surrounded by silence for too long. He hit the scan button trying to find something he could sing along with but the only stations he could find were either Gospel or Rap, neither of which he liked. Jessie had listened to Gospel with his mother as a kid, he remembered her singeing the songs as she would cook supper or fold the laundry.
Allison Johnson Hamilton was Jessie Dan Hamilton’s mother. She was an average height at about five foot six inches and only weighed one hundred and ten pounds when she found out she was pregnant. Allison and John had only been married for six moths when she went for a doctors appointment. Seven months later she gave birth to Jessie. Allison was very firm on raising Jessie in church, and since she had never lived anywhere except Castroville, they went to the same church that she had gone to her entire life, and where She and John had been married. It was a very rare occasion that Jessie’s father John went to a church service. Jessie enjoyed going to church with his mother, he would sit in the pew next to her and look through the hymn books during the service and would get hard candies from the elderly women who thought that he was just adorable. One morning in early March of 1996, Allison woke with a headache, she took two aspirin and carried on with her day, getting Jessie ready for school, and cooking breakfast for her husband. John and Jessie left at their usual time. Jessie was in third grade at the local elementary school and John worked for a construction company based out of San Antonio. Allison had arranged for Jessie to spend the weekend with her parents who lived across town and her mother phoned letting her know that she would pick up Jessie straight from schol.
At noon Allison’s headache had not gone away, so she decided to go lay down. Allison Johnson Hamilton never woke from that nap, her husband John came home from work and found her. At twenty-seven years old Allison had had a brain aneurysm and died peacefully in her sleep leaving behind a loving husband and a precious eight year old son.