“Thanks for the ride Man.”
Dark spots from his approaching headlights still blinked in my vision, but pizza, tobacco and sweat reached out to me from the truck cab.
“Get in or get lost Kid. I got a schedule.”
I swept my rucksack up into the and followed it close. We pulled away before I got the door shut and I slid across leather polished by too many passengers.
“How far you headed?”
“Far enough.” Words escaped through the gap between chapped lips and a grimy hand rolled cigarette.
He flicked a lighter and his dark stubbled face leapt into angular life, before skulking back into the shadows of the dim illumination from the dash.
“So it’s a girl, right? It’s always a girl. They’ll be the death of you Boy. Broads I mean. Man killers, every one.”
I cracked the window but the smell just gathered tighter around me like cobwebs on your face in the morning.
“No? A story for a ride Son. That’s how it works.”
“...I’m going to meet her...”
The cigarette flared, then languid wraiths of smoke curled from his nostrils before diving for the window and freedom.
“So, this girl you’re meeting..?”
I closed my eyes and rested my head against the cracked headrest, shutting out the strobing monochrome scrub flashing past the rusty wing.
“It was Jeff, her Daddy. The police wanted her to testify, but she was scared Man... and it was her Daddy, you know? The Sheriff called her at work, followed her to my house, sat outside the house all night, but Jeff, he’d just laugh. If she was late, well, he called it a reminder. Told the Sheriff she fell. He took it up with Jeff in the diner, but without a witness, Jeff knew he was home free.”
The truck engine droned like an angry metal bee and the tyres roared.
“I tried to tell her, you know? She had to get away, her Daddy was trouble, real bad news. No future for us if she stayed. Told her I’d set her free. So I did...”
The trucker turned, deep sunk eyes fixed on me like a mongoose watching a snake.
I saw her face in the reflection of the windshield.
The tyres rumbled onto the gravel verge, a stony tattoo beating on the underside of the body, and he jerked the wheel. The tyres gave a banshee scream as he stomped on the brake. The truck stalled and I looked across at him to find myself staring into the steel blued tunnel of a snub nose revolver in his shaking hand.
“But I’m going to meet her...”
“Out.” The barrel twitched me on my way and I slid out into the cool night air.
The truck leapt into life, drenching me in a shower of dust.
The single tail light dwindled against the first whispers of dawn’s approaching skyline.
I caught the memory of her scent on the breeze. I could meet her here as well as anywhere, I figured. I pulled open the bag, feeling inside for my carefully stone whetted ticket.