Jack, a restless schoolteacher from Ohio, is en
route to the Rocky Mountains. He hopes to enjoy
the rugged beauty and clear his head enough to
write a story. He never expected to become the
story, but on a listless summer day, by the shores
of a remote Nebraskan lake, he collides with a
natural beauty of a far different sort—a young
drifter calling herself Charlie. He catches her
raiding his camp for food but she catches him in
her own sticky web. She's playful, spontaneous
and talented and he falls under her spell. She's
taken by his kindness and sense of adventure
and soon their passion boils over. The next day,
as Jack walks to camp from the bathhouse, a car
pulls up from behind—it's the Nebraska State
Patrol and they're looking for a girl—a hitchhiker
Ed is an accountant and not a man to take
chances—he feels safe in the world of numbers
and in the secure but loveless world of his
marriage. One night, along with his wife Caroline,
he attends a party celebrating a sales milestone
reached within his corporation. It's held at the
swanky estate of the CFO and there's spiked
punch, laughter and Brenda—Ed's favorite
employee, his pet. Already smashed, she hangs
onto his arm and giggles at another man's joke.
Flush with punch himself, he feels bold enough to
tell a tale of his own. But Caroline shoots his
balloon out of the sky with a few words and it falls
flat. He slinks past the punch table and walks
outside to hide, lick his wound and ponder things.
His reverie is interrupted when he's asked to drive
Brenda, dazed and sick, back to her apartment.
It's ninety-five degrees out and Brian is trapped
on the highway—traffic crawling, his temperature
gauge needle drifting into the red. Driving home
to Illinois, he decided to cut through the heart of
Nashville—a big mistake unless you're a fan of
the city's largest country music jamboree. Of all
days—he's anxious to see his fiancee and this
will make him late—or worse. Finding an exit, he
escapes off the highway, hoping to backtrack to
a by-pass. Instead he takes a wrong turn and
gets stuck in crowds spilling out of honky-tonks,
buses and cars—all marching toward the music.
Managing a U-turn, he finds the street that
connects to the by-pass. It passes through an industrial area, growing ever more desolate—the
river crowds his left, its rail lines scattered with
defaced cars, and on his right fences ring huge
piles of debris. Up ahead another line bisects his
path, then a guardrail where a crossing should
be—he's come to a dead end.
It's nearing midnight and quitting time when Billy
spots her on the midway, steadily approaching his
game trailer—another townie girl who doesn't
know when to leave or has lost her ride home.
But she stops before him and asks to shoot at his
ducks, so he hands her a rifle. She's subdued but
pretty, with fine blonde hair, and somehow
familiar. She's cold, so he gives her his jacket to
wear, then pulls a joke on her, messing up her
last round. She finally smiles and they agree to
meet at the horse corrals in a half hour—an
ordinary span of time within which his life will
Like a busted dam he rambles on with words I
didn't hear. I was staring out the window, feeling
something far off at first, then getting closer, then
getting urgent—like when ya gotta have a smoke
or take a pee.
"What? Oh sorry, come again?"
"I just asked ya, where ya headed?"
I look at Abe, my heart swelling like a kid on
Christmas day, like it knew what I had to do, and
I tell him, "I'm going home."
An elderly man wanders the streets of Saint Louis
on a beautiful spring day—confused and lost—
until he meets a girl, an old geezer and a black
dog—three guides who take him on an incredible
Another horrible two days. Always anxious,
always fearful and getting worse, I bounce from
hope to despair within minutes. I have less than
a week before I return to work, before my co-
workers stare and whisper and my supervisors
watch my every move. My parents want to see
me but I turn them away with excuses—they don't
know I've been suspended. Nights are bad and
last night was no exception: more dreams, the
ringing, then staring out my living room window
in the dark, flipping a razor blade over and over
between my fingers.
Tamie Daniels, a twenty-five year old nurse, is
suspended from Duke University Hospital and
ordered to see a psychiatrist. She's reluctant to
cooperate with her "doc" at first, but as her
symptoms worsen, she finds she desperately
needs his help.