Let's move this story along, and stop it at the same time.
Everyone needs perspective from time to time.
Such is the case with our intrepid travelers. One step forward, two steps back.
But I don't want to get ahead of myself...
After a good night's sleep and some perspective, Maisie and Stella's sites were set on Spokane.
One step closer to the coast.
They were so close. One city closer to their destination.
Palpable ghosts flew behind the Dart as they left Missoula, fresh from the memory of Bozeman.
They were motivated.
But like anything unsavory, like a bill that's overdue or questionable diagnosis that requires further testing, they didn't anticipate the blowout.
It was lucky, really, that Stella was a cautious driver. She felt the thwap-thwap-thwap sound of the tire before she and Maisie heard it.
They were so close to Spokane when the tire blew; so close to unlocking the mystery of Carrie Wilder, so intent on leaving the past where it belonged.
Way back there in Bozeman.
"What in the living hell is that sound?"
Maisie said it as Stella felt it.
"I think we have a problem." Stella didn't show her worry.
They came to a slow crawl, and they both knew, without saying a thing, they'd be sidelined for a while.
Their lack of movement was unsettling, but necessary.
Maisie did what she did best. She feigned a certain desperation by the side of the road, as Stella worked to unhook the flattened tire from its very firm resting place.
That's when Bob drove by.
Bob was a drifter. Some might say he was unsavory.
But Bob didn't drift past the Dart.
Stopping was reflexive, really. He understood what he had to give. Bob was no savior, but he knew when his services were needed. He had a car, and these old ladies were obviously struggling.
He knew what it was like, to struggle.
Bob's was a much more humble ride than the Dart. His Impala was taped together, literally, with the duct variety, and a prayer.
But at this point, Bob seemed to be in a better place than the two women he saw by the side of the road.
Admittedly, he was an opportunist.
But there was something genuine, something sincere that compelled him to stop. These two old women seemed to need help.
And Bob was in a position to do just that.