Two.

Welcome to Baltimore

Sadie smiled when she read the sign on I-295 north. As she screamed past it on her Harley, she thought of Gina. Gina was Baltimore to the bone. That’s what Sadie loved about her. Gina was real, down to earth, and cool. Sadie got warm thinking about seeing her again.

From the road she could see the Bromo Seltzer tower downtown. If its clock was right, she made it from Tennessee to Baltimore in eight hours. Sadie left Bulls Gap just after breakfast and rode into town on a balmy August afternoon. She needed to get out of her leather. It was great protection from the early morning air, but after hours in the summer sun Sadie could feel the moisture trapped inside.

She followed the signs to the Inner Harbor, past the city incinerator and the “Largest Trash Can in the World.” She turned right on Pratt and coasted past the harbor pavilions that blocked the view of Federal Hill, that blocked Fort McHenry, that blocked the British in 1812. She crossed Presidents Street and cruised the northern edge of Little Italy. On the left, looming over the restaurants and cafes were tall, plain buildings that Sadie could tell were the projects. Soon Little Italy ended and the projects grew.

Sadie didn’t know she missed her turn until she crossed Broadway, the street that Gina said meant she went too far. She turned around and followed Broadway north, past the adult theatre, featuring Marilyn Chambers, and the Baptist church next to it, featuring Jesus Christ. When Broadway ended, Sadie turned right and let her instincts guide her. Soon the houses were nicer and farther apart. She turned left and circled Lake Montebello, where men were parked waxing their cars to loud music.

Around the lake she headed north, past Morgan State where the suburbs took over. Two blocks later she turned right, then left into the parking lot of The Wishing Well Saloon. The lot was empty except for a Pinto station wagon and a couple of Harleys. She swerved to avoid a broken bottle and parked next to the Pinto.

It was dark inside the bar and it took a while for Sadie’s eyes to adjust. “Hey,” she heard Gina call from somewhere in the darkness. “I wasn’t expecting you for a few more hours.”

“Yeah, I know. I made good time.” Sadie answered, still unable to see clearly. She walked toward the voice. When she got to the bar she could see a little better. She sat her helmet down and Gina leaned over to hug her. “Sweaty leather,” Sadie warned as they hugged.

“Yum,” Gina teased.

Sadie leaned over far enough to smack Gina on the ass, then leaned back and smiled at her. “Good to see you, Girl. What’s up?”

“I missed you. I’m so glad you’re here…Here, have a beer. Grab a seat at that table and I’ll be right over.”