The Gas Station Terror

“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” and trust me that friend is not my sister! Let’s just say it is a good thing I have a sense of humor and love her unconditionally!! I’m talking about, Cristi, my sister that choked on a jawbreaker during church in my last book. Before I venture into the details of this story, let me remind you how Troy and I saved her life. You’ll have to read the heroic account for yourself. Years have long past and healed the pain of this particular memory, so I can finally write it without breaking out in a cold sweat, or writhing from a frightening nightmare. 

The incident happened back when she only had two kids and I had three. She now has eight and I have nine; I like to stay ahead of her! We are a little competitive. The two of us had had a wonderful weekend visiting our oldest sister in Dallas with our children. Our little ones had played sweetly, while we girls visited at the house and shopped at the mall. It had been a time of true sister bonding, especially since our children were proving to love their little cousins with equal devotion.

As we left the Dallas city limit, my younger sister and I noticed that the gas tank was on empty. Unfortunately, we were out of the clean, safe, highly populated area and we knew that if we didn’t stop soon, we would be pushing my big, black, utility vehicle piled with all of our children down I 45, so we did the sensible thing and stopped at the next gas station. Ominously, it happened to be the most raunchy, disgusting, scary gas pit we had ever seen, but we were desperate, so we stopped. My sister said, “You run in and pay and I’ll pump ten dollars, so we can make it to another gas station!”

“Great idea!” I said as I dug in my purse for the cash.

Even though the gas station was in the middle of nowhere, it was swarming with the male gender loitering, leaning, smoking, and gawking. I was shocked at the number of men packed in the small, dirty building, all waiting in line to buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, alcohol and tobacco. My dilemma was that I HAD to pay inside the building and I was going to be the only blond, female for miles, crammed in line with this motley crew. 

My plan was to look straight ahead, make no eye contact, focus, pay and then RUN!!! While I was sweating it out in line, I was concerned about all the kids in the car and my tall, beautiful, blonde sister out by the pump. As uncomfortable as I was, I was thinking that at least my sister was not in the same stressful predicament! Just about the time I finished my kind, merciful, sentimental thoughts toward my sister, a tall, scraggly, half drunk homeless man busted in the door, looked straight at me and boomed, “TERRI!”

Stunned that he not only knew my name, but now the entire group knew it, I stood there shaken for a second while he finished.

“Terri, your sister said you have money for me. She said you are the one with the money!”
Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!! What??? I had not been separated from her but a mere couple of minutes and she had already betrayed me to a homeless, drugged alcoholic in the middle of nowhere? I wondered if she had driven off with my offspring, too??? What kind of sister was she?

I burst to the front of the line, threw the twenty dollar bill that I had been anxiously crumpling in my hands at the little hole in the bulletproof glass. Yes, the Plexiglas that kept the attendant safely from his customers, and then I ran out the double glass doors feeling the man close behind me. Thankfully, his inebriated state slowed his over six foot frame down. Right about the time of my exit, my traitor sister screeched to the front of the building with panic in her eyes. I plunged for the car to find THE DOOR LOCKED!! Could it get worse? She managed to unlock the door and let me in, without peeling out and running me over…surprise, surprise.

Shaken stiff with adrenalin I managed…”How did THAT MAN, know my name and my financial status?”

“He came up to me while I was pumping the gas and asked me for money. I didn’t know what to do, so I gave him your name and told him where you were!” she confessed.
Well how do you like that? My crafty sister decided to be open and honest with a drugged man in the spur of the moment!

Like two cats fresh out of the lake, we sat straight up in our seats nervously laughing and recounting the whole incident as we drove to the next gas station. Shaken to the core I found myself glancing over my shoulder every few minutes assuring we weren’t carting any scary tag-alongs. After all these years, I still haven’t gotten her back for this!