Child of Privilege Excerpt

Chapter 9

After spending an interminably long day cramped inside that bus and enduring the cold stare of the frustrated pickup artist across the aisle, an early evening rest stop at Putnamville—population: 264—was a welcome respite to a tired Dana Van Werner.
A slight distance from the interstate highway, Putnamville was little more than the intersection of two rural roads; a blip on the landscape unworthy of even a reduced speed limit at the crossroads upon which it rested in sleepy repose.
At one end of town—one side of the highway—was the ubiquitous gas-station-cum-grocery-store-cum-antique-store-cum-souvenir-stand, a silent monument to Putnamville's optimism of someday blossoming into a major tourist mecca.
It boasted of unleaded and high-test gasoline pumps and the reassurance of a mechanic on duty from 8 until 5 ... weekdays only.
At the other end of town—the other side of the highway—squatted the Crossroads Rest Motel, a long, one-story building with five units, two of which appeared to be occupied by the owners of a battered red pickup and a semi-trailer truck resting outside the doors of rooms 1 and 2 respectively.
Beyond a small stand of scrawny, dead trees was a mammoth, barn-like structure surrounded by a sprawling gravel parking lot.  The building itself was set back a considerable distance from the intersection.  It appeared to float on the ocean of white gravel, rising from the stony surface like some faded rural ark despairingly in need of new paint.  A rickety, peeling white billboard facing the highway shouted its message starkly in towering red letters to anyone who cared to read it: "WELCOME TO RED'S".
Beyond Red's, beyond the intersection, was nothing: mile after mile of cornfields, barns, silos, quaint farmsteads, and the sun serenely sweeping low into the horizon, dressing the rural whistle stop in golden light, warmth, and lengthening shadows.
Dana and the other passengers browsed disinterestedly around the cluttered store, pausing occasionally to closely inspect an antique or to purchase coffee, soft drinks, fruit juice, cookies, chips, or a magazine for the continuing journey west.  Every time she looked up, she noticed the sleazeball from the bus lingering nearby, closely eyeing her, never allowing her out of his sight or more than a few yards away.
With darkness rapidly settling in, Dana considered checking in at the motel in hopes of ditching Sleazeball and boarding another bus to somewhere else in a day or two.
In another time, she would've casually fished one of her many charge cards from her purse or used her ATM card and taken the room without a second thought.  But hers was a collection of now worthless plastic.  Her father had closed the accounts long ago.
With $262.18 in her purse, the debutante had to consider her expenditures carefully.
She wandered through the remaining aisles, past the cash register, and out the front door into the waning warmth of the sunset.  She quickly turned and looked back to see if her shadow was following her.
What caught her attention instead was a poster sloppily taped to the store’s front window:
For the first time in her life, Dana was completely on her own, cut off from the resources of the vast Van Werner fortune.  Unless she was prepared to return to North Briarwood and face her father's vengeance, she needed to survive by her own wits long enough to reach her destination.
What destination?
But visual prostitution?  Was that the price of survival?
Deprived of her ATM card, credit cards, checking account, and her traveler's checks, she needed money to stay free.  She needed money for motels.  She needed money for bus tickets.  She needed money for food.  She needed money to evade the creep following her.
She needed money to stay ahead of her father.
And $150 would be enough to keep her alive and free at least for a few days.
Survival was indeed a dirty business beyond the monied city limits of North Briarwood.
Dana calculated her chances of winning that contest.  She knew her 19-year-old figure wasn't bad in a bikini; and her 36C breasts had caught the eye of many male admirers back in North Briarwood.
Still notably unenthusiastic at the prospect of parading around in a dripping t-shirt and jiggling her breasts like some obscene windup doll, she shuddered at the thought becoming an evening's cheap entertainment for a dump jammed with drunken, horny rednecks.
Indeed, survival was sometimes a dirty business.
So, a reluctant Dana Van Werner began the long hike across that enormous parking lot and toward the musty old barn world-renowned as "Red's".

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