She holds on to the station wagon. She knows her way around it. It’s been with her longer than she’s been a hunter. There isn’t too much she could say that about anymore.
It doesn’t really occur to her to go back to England. Someone asks her on Thanksgiving, which she spends at a saloon in Truckee, California. Her answer is rote: she left in the first place because England was boring. It was boring and old and so very, very contained. Nobody does an empty back road like the States. The old things were excitable and territorial here. Let someone else deal with the old country.
What she’s doing is forging ahead. People want to cosset her and check in and make sure she’s holding together. That’s never been anything she’s needed. She goes south, for the raging ghosts of overseers and the ungrateful lloronas and the hungry witch doctors cursing for pay. In a swamp in Alabama she kills a wyrm, an honest-to-god dragon, and she’s able to live off the earnings from the pieces for months.
She misses certain things. There are two-man jobs she has to pass up — wendigo, werewolf, poltergeist, vodyanoi. Those were always good hunts. But she can take care of herself just fine. Evil gets taken down because of her, and there’s no two ways about it. Her way isn’t gun-shy or careful, and maybe she should know better, but it works and she couldn’t care less how.
Bobby Singer surprises her in downstate Illinois. She’s crossing the parking lot of a Wal-Mart, just picking up some wiper fluid and a bag of pretzels, and recognizes the shapeless outline of his hat and vest. He spots her before she can get away fast enough, and she can’t come up with a good excuse to escape coffee. Bobby acts the perfect gentleman. She doesn’t think on his fingers not digging into her shoulder or the harshness that isn’t in his voice as they sit like civilized people in the no-name mom-and-pop dinette.
He asks how the hunting’s been. They swap stories in undertones. Then he asks her if she’s seen Bela Talbot. She tells him the truth: Bela gave her a good price for the wyrm’s crop and breastbone, passing up the teeth. That was January — ages ago. Bobby seems frustrated, but he won’t say why, precisely.
She doesn’t volunteer to help him. She’s always sort of liked the girl. Bela Talbot’s a sly bitch and no mistake. She admires that.
They almost manage to end it on a neutral note. Then he goes and asks how she is, and he says his name, and she feels the calcified raggedness quicken in her chest. He has the good sense to be cautious about it, and she keeps her cool in front of him. He seems relieved to see her at peace. She could reach out and rip that pitying look right from his eyes. People think anger is about restlessness, and that it’s cured when the outside shell is still. She could teach him ten different things about wrath and vengeance. Instead she tells him she’s due in Chickamauga by morning, and thanks him for the coffee. Maybe that’s growth on her part. She doesn’t care to think on it.
She drives through the night with vague plans of seeing the Gulf. The station wagon holds up well, for all its years. She knows what to expect from the road. It’s better than waking up with torn pillowcases bunched beneath her fingers, the rumble of tires and the ground rolling beneath her. He once said he heard her name in the sound: tamaratamaratamaratamara. He loved things that were ceaseless and unyielding. He loved the hunt. He loved the road.
She drives through the night, watching the dark country through the funnel of her highbeams. There are demons where she’s going, or ghosts or monsters or some other bloody nightmare. That changes, but this part, this doesn’t. The road only runs forward. Every pass, she listens, and every time, she can never hear a thing.