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The Method

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Zoë Bendix sat in her BMW, watching the roadside through cracked glass, hoping for signs of life somewhere out there in the tall grass, the scrub brush, and the roadside litter.

Still nothing.

"Who the does that? Middle of the road? Middle of the night? Middle of goddamn nowhere?" She repeated it like a club mix hook as her heart dooorooompt the bass line, a cocaine drumbeat backed with a vodka and Red Bull fueled groove.

Zoë shook her hands out, flexed her fingers, brought them up to her face and breathed into her cupped palms to try to relax. "'Kay, s'okay," she said. Her face dripped sweat. "Deep breaths—deep breaths."

Zoë was suddenly hyper-aware of her body odor, she reeked of sweat, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and fear. She wiped her hands on her short, purple dress as if that could take care of it all.

"Okay." She turned slowly toward the side window. Her heart started...doooo...she spotted something pale in the darkness. Thought it was a shoe.

"Ohhh, god—!" She jerked from the window, trying to scramble for the passenger's side only to crack her bony hip against the steering wheel. "Shit!" She screamed and kicked the pedals with her platforms.

And her cell phone rang.

The melody sang her away from the brink. Still Zoë gasped and looked at the glowing display, the phone vibrating and shimming away from her over to the far edge of the front seat. A snot bubble burst from her nostril.

Zoë pulled a tissue from the visor as she picked up the phone.

She sniffled, looked at the number but didn't recognize it. Wiping the screen of her tears cleared nothing but the display. Her thumb hovered above the answer button. She scratched a smudge of grime with a nail and—the phone quieted.

Zoë brushed her hair back, shook it away from her neck and rubbed the display again. The voicemail symbol flashed. It beeped at her once as she sat it on the passenger's seat; both hoping and afraid it would ring again.

And her fear was right.

This time she answered it. "Hello?" Her own voice sounded loud to her, loud enough that it scared her.

"Ms. Bendix?"

She didn't recognize the voice. "Yeah," she said, softer now—too soft. "Yes."

"This is Terry Bledsoe. Do you know who I am?"

She did. "You'll help me? I didn't mean to," she said. "I know I shouldn't have been driving, if anybody knows that it's me. I don't wanna make People again. Not like this. But—who does that? Middle of the road? Middle of the night? Middle of freaking nowhere?" The words exploded from her mouth quickly like she had just remembered her line. Her heart dooorooompt again.

"The first thing I'm going to do, Zoë, is ask you some questions."

She fused with her dress. The fabric felt moist along the short hemline and as she touched it she knew what it was, knew it was from earlier, her time with smiling Jack.

"Yes," she said picking at an ingrown hair on her knee.

"How much?"

Zoë fretted her lip then picked at the steering wheel with her thumbnail. "A couple."

"Beer, mixed drinks, or hard liquor?"

"All of 'em—whatever. I don't know."

"How many is a couple?"

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