Karen had just decided she was done with Lenny, that New York is a mistake, that she wasn't going to get back into the car with him after the check was paid. She wasn't sure how it was going to work out, her getting away from Lenny, without a big scene, a lot of tears, Lenny pulling out all the stops to convince her to come along. Lenny had convinced her to give up on so many things over the past three years (a continuing education program, her brother in a mental hospital, cigarettes), he was a master at it. Karen knew she couldn't hold her ground against him, that a confrontation would end the way they always ended, with Karen agreeing to whatever Lenny was begging her to agree to. There could be no parking lot shouting match, no laying it all out on the line in an honest and direct manner, the way that Lenny maybe deserved after three long years taking care of her (he covered more than a few months of her rent). Karen knew the only way out was to sneak out a bathroom window, slip into the kitchen and out the back by the dumpsters, pretend she left something in the car while they were still eating and then take off with the first trucker who might think this was his lucky day. Time's running out for all of us, so if being honest is going to keep you from doing what needs getting done, fuck honesty is how Karen saw it.
But the check was paid, the coffee cups were almost dry, and New York was only a short walk through the parking lot and ten more hours of driving away. That would be that, she was certain. If she left that restaurant through the front door with Lenny, that would be that. But leaving that restaurant through the front door with Lenny was looking like it might be the only option, at least until the front door opened and the men in the rubber masks started yelling for the cash drawer, unaware of the cop in the men's room already radioing the two squad cars parked in the back.
How we gonna get out of here?
I ain't goin' to jail.
If we don't step out soon, they're comin' in.
Karen tried to disguise it with a pretend cough when she said, "Hostage!"
"Karen?" said Lenny. "You okay?"
Suppose we could take some hostages with us.
It's the only way I can see.
"Human shield!" Karen said, under cover of a loud pretend sneeze.
"Karen," Lenny said. "Try to hold them in. Don't draw attention to yourself."
Cops won't shoot at us if we got one of the customers blocking their line of fire.
Which one should we take?
Not sure. Who would cops be least likely to shoot at?
"Women!" Karen fake coughed. "Brunettes!" she fake sneezed. "Late twenties in the booth by the window!" she fake hacked and fake wheezed and even faked snorted a tiny little snort.
I think I know which one.
They took her with them, drove her halfway across the country before finally agreeing to set her free and never tell where they last saw her. She lives in Flagstaff now, happy enough, occasionally wondering if trying to end it with Lenny in a more confrontational manner would have been better than spending 18 months tied up in the backseat of a stickup team's Cutlass, but she's pretty sure she did the right thing.
Happy Switching Gears Day!