Oh, Trucker Sue.
“Five-foot-two, eyes of blue, name of Sue,” she rapid-fire spits through the nubs of her teeth, mostly gums really, sticking her wiry hand out to shake mine. Firmly.
She smokes Seneca Menthol 100s, the kind she picks up on Indian reservations as she makes her way through the country, hauling loads of God-knows-what in her shiny white truck.
She lives in that truck, all her worldly possessions on the top bunk, and shares the tiny bottom one with her two cats. One of ‘em blind, both of ‘em fat.
Not Sue though. Skinny as a string bean, short grey hair cropped close to her head. When I meet her she’s got on an oversized tie-dye hoodie, offers me a cigarette. We sit at a bar studded with keno machines, sipping Budweisers in the Gold Strike Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi.
Tunica — a flashback to Vegas before what happened there stayed there, back when the casinos all had low ceilings and windowless walls that boxed in and recycled the endless smoke from cigarettes balanced between gnarled fingers, un-ashed.
We were down there for a truck driver convention, but we snuck out, bored as hell, and found the bar by the lobby. We drank beers and smoked the Senecas while she speedily barked out her past: She had been a crack addict and a prostitute. She had two children, whom she saw sometimes. One of them had been what she called a “trick baby.” She said this with some measure of sadness, but matter-of-factly all the same.
Sue was shriveled up, a tiny woman, and she was self-conscious about her teeth-nubs. She looked right at you when she talked, hard blue eyes. She was smart; she could read a situation, and although she came off as having a few screws loose, she gave me the impression that she knew herself well.