Runaway

The Tuesday in question was not unlike other Tuesdays Rebecca had experienced. Her job was boring, but it paid well enough for one girl, and her life was as she desired it to be – simple. Her life away from work frequently consisted of washing the dishes, roaming the city, and studying. She was in school to become a reporter.

While other people glued themselves to sitcoms and reality TV shows, the only shows Rebecca consistently watched were news programs. Local news, national news, evening news hours, if it was a news program, she had seen it.

On that Tuesday, however, she missed the news. As she was exiting her office, on her way to her car, she was approached by an attractive young man in jeans and an expensive-looking full-length leather jacket.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I’m a little lost.”

Rebecca glanced up, startled for a moment, and got herself back under control. “Where are you trying to go?”

The man hesitated. “I don’t really know. Could you recommend somewhere?”

Rebecca stopped walking. “What?”

“I’m… sight-seeing? Yes, that it. And I would like to see your city. Something unusual.”

“This is Iowa,” Rebecca said. “There’s nothing unusual within three states of here.”

“Oh.” Her newest friend seemed disappointed.

“Well, this is a college town, I guess. There should be something here. What kind of things do you like?”

“Music. Are there any live houses?”

Her eyes narrowed slightly, like she was trying to remember something. “Yeah. Yeah, you might try down on High Street. It’s just down that way a little.” She pointed back towards campus.

“Great,” he said. “Thank you very much.”

“It was no problem,” she said. “You look a little familiar to me. Is it possible I’ve seen you before?”

A tiny spark of panic crossed into his eyes and he began to stutter. “Uh, no. No, I don’t think so. Look, anyway, thanks. I- bye.”

And just like that, he was off, nearly at a run. Rebecca watched him for just a moment before shaking her head. /That was weird,/ she thought, heading for her car.

***

She’d forgotten about the whole episode by the time she made it home. A quick shower to wash away the tedium of work, and a quickly prepared meal, and she was ready. She plunked herself down on the sofa and clicked on the TV. It was news time.

First was the local news, not usually that interesting, but important to watch from a career perspective. Rebecca knew the local station would be the first place to look for a job when she graduated, and she wanted to be ready.

Then came the national news, with it’s usual headlines: war, famine, death, destruction. It was the stories that came towards the end of the broadcast that she liked the best. Science stories, low-key medical breakthroughs, stupid lawsuits, these were the kind of things that would normally bore her to tears if she encountered them outside of a news broadcast. Somehow, though, reporters always managed to make her care about them. That was the kind of reporting Rebecca wanted to do. The kind that turned the mundane into the vital.

Tonight’s back-of-broadcast story was about Kyle Ginal, a rock star who’d apparently had enough of the high life and run away from home. The piece detailed his young fame, his supposed iconic status, and the messy, financially motivated in-fighting rumored to be going on behind the scenes.

As they showed the most recent footage of him, some paparazzi shots taken near his home, Rebecca put her fork back on her plate and leaned in closer to the TV. The dark hair, the blue eyes, even that leather jacket. “That’s him.” Yes, Kyle Ginal had asked her for directions earlier that evening. “He ran away to Iowa?”

***

She broke all kinds of traffic laws, and what she felt certain must have been the Iowa land speed record on the way back down to Alias. It’d only been a couple of hours since she’d dropped him off, he had to still be in the area.

He wasn’t in Alias, and no one remembered seeing him leave, so she took to the streets, asking after him and checking in random bars, hoping to get lucky. It was at least another hour before she did. He was parked at a booth at a place called The Drunken Lizard, which was featuring a new rock band, and he seemed to be enjoying the show.

She strode right up and sat down next to him, calling out “Kyle!” as she approached. Sure enough, he turned around, realizing what he was doing even while he was doing it. She sat down and pointed an accusatory finger at him. “I said I remembered you. You lied.”

He sighed and combed his hands through his hair. “How did you know?”

“You’re on the news.”

“Hell,” he replied, sighing again. “You going to turn me in now?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Might make a good story. Local Girl Finds National Rock Star? Eh. I’m kind of surprised you haven’t been recognized already.”

Kyle looked despondently across the table at her. “Guess so.”

“What happened?” Rebecca asked. “Why’d you run away?”

He scowled at her. “Is that any of your business?”

She raised her eyebrows. “No,” she said. “I was just asking. No one said you had to tell me.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, this isn’t like me.”

After a moment’s silence, Rebecca said, “They interviewed some of your friends.”

Kyle rolled his eyes with a look that said he didn’t consider them his friends any more.

“They seemed really worried about you,” she said.

“Worried about my money,” he answered.

“You should at least call them. Nothing’s going work out if you just run away.”

“What are you, my mother now?” he asked, his voice full of sarcasm.

“I’m just saying,” she started.

“I’m here to listen to some music. Could you… butt out? Please?”

She stared at him for just a second before getting up and leaving.

***

She didn’t bother telling anyone what had happened, and within a week, she had nearly forgotten about it. The following Tuesday, she went home, took her shower, prepared her dinner, and sat down in front of the TV as usual. Everything was going as expected, the same stories over and over again, until right before the last commercial break in the national news.

“Switching to a lighter note, it seems Kyle Ginal decided to come home on his own. He revealed in a press conference this afternoon that he had been feeling stressed due to the strain financial matters are putting on his relationships and that he spent a brief time in Iowa.”

The screen switched to a clip of Kyle at the press conference.

“Why Iowa?” a reporter asked.

Kyle shrugged. “That’s just where I ended up. Turns out they’ve got a lot of good bands there, though. And one particularly nice girl, too.”

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