Craig’s thumb was tired.
It had been an hour and a half since his car had broken down. Looking back over the hill, the ’87 Pinto continued to send him smoke signals.
Walking this stretch of highway was dangerous. Cars sped by, ignoring the hitchhiker and sending a cloud of dust into his face every few minutes. While this was annoying, Craig was at least slightly relieved he had taken a Claritin this morning. The only thing that can make hitchhiking worse is a sneezing fit.
A sputtering sound caught his attention. Looking behind him, Craig saw a car came up the hill, slower than the rest. Pink Floyd poured out the window, barely audible above the roar of the engine. Craig turned back, expecting the car to continue past him, once again leaving him in the dust.
Instead, it slowed to a stop beside him.
“Where you headed, stranger?” the driver questioned. His scraggly beard and grungy trucker hat gave the impression that, were it not for this vehicle, this man would only have a can of Skoal and a collection of aged burger wrappers to his name.
“Landonburg. About 100 miles east,” Craig said, hoping the man had not noticed his judgmental glances.
“Well, ain’t that somethin’? I’m headed that direction myself. Got plenty of space, if you want to come with…”
“That would be great. Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“Shoot, I’d like to have someone to talk to.”
Quickly, Craig grabbed his bag. Throwing it in the backseat, he joined the man up front.
“Name’s Mason,” the man said.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Craig.”
“Why you headed to Landonburg?”
“My sister’s wedding is in…”
“Oh, boy! This is my song!” Mason’s shouting interrupted the get to know you part of the ride, as he began to sing along to his blaring cassette deck. “…WE’RE JUST TWO LOST SOULS SWIMMIN’ IN A LITTLE FISHBOWL OF TEARS…”
“Pink Floyd, huh? Pretty good stuff.” Craig was lying. He hated Pink Floyd. He hated classic rock in general. If there was one thing he knew, though, it was not to insult the music of a stranger who is giving you a ride.
“Pretty good?!” exclaimed Mason. The look of shock on his grizzled face seemed so out of place that Craig was forced to stifle his laughter. “That’s like sayin’ the Holocaust was kinda bad! I reckon if God were to make music, it would sound a lot like Floyd.”
“Probably bigger, though,” Craig added.
“Are you makin’ fun of me?” Mason asked. It seemed like a rhetorical question, but the look on Mason’s face indicated he really didn’t know.
“No, I wouldn’t do that.”
Mason stared at him, a look of anger spreading across his face. His cheeks grew redder and redder, giving him the appearance of a scraggly tomato. His mouth opened, but before the words could come out…
He began laughing. Not just laughing, but laughing hysterically. It was almost the way a crazy person would laugh. In fact, it was exactly the way…
“JERKEY TIME!” Mason shouted, abruptly pulling into a gas station. As he jumped out of the car, he shouted back. “Hey, man. You want some jerkey?”
“I’m okay,” Craig said, still shaken from the crazy laughing incident.
“Okay. Now don’t go and take or my car or nothin’ while I’m gone,” Mason shouted as he ran into the station.Now is your time to vote. Tune in next week to see what happens to Craig.