Friday, December 20, 2013

Fiction Friday: Methuselah: Truck Stop

For other posts in the series, visit the Methuselah page on this blog. 

"Thanks for the lift, man," Glen shook hands with his unnamed driver and hefted his rucksack onto his back.

"No worries. Be safe."

Glen walked away as the driver closed and locked the cargo doors. They were at the furthest end of the truck stop parking lot, an ill lit corner that gave them cover; a person climbing out of the cargo area of a truck tended to draw attention. Fortunately, they seemed not to have attracted any notice.

Because it was located near the border, it was a busy place. Lots of truckers would stop here for a quick sleep (four hours, max) before crossing the border first thing in the morning. They'd learned that border security agents were generally in a better mood in the morning. Night shifts tend to make even the most compassionate worker a little bitter and irritable.

This truck stop offered full services: showers, a greasy-spoon restaurant, convenience store, garage, fuel, and a gift shop. He was hungry, but grabbed a shower first - it felt like a sweet visit to heaven. He came out feeling less like a grub and more like a human. Plus, it would make it easier for him to hitch a ride if he didn't look like an ax murderer.

He put his rucksack down and grabbed a stool at the counter. He flirted with the waitress just enough to be sociable and ordered the Heart Attack Special: two eggs sunny side up, bacon, ham, fried potatoes, thick toast, beans and a slice of tomato. Most of the truckers left the tomato untouched.
Glen dug into his food as soon as it arrived, washing it down with coffee ("Top 'er up!"). If this wasn't the best damned breakfast he had ever eaten, he didn't know what was. All that fat and protein, the eggs done just right, the bacon just crispy enough, but not burnt. The bitter coffee cleansing his palate.

Say what you want about truck stop food, but they knew how to cook a breakfast.

It was time for him to get serious about hitching his next ride. He glanced around to see if he could spot a conversation opener with one of the truckers. Most of them looked half dead, staring at today's paper or their phones as they shoveled food into their maws. Hard to find common ground there.

Then he spotted one guy with a teddy bear in a gift bag at his feet.

"You get that here?" Glen asked.

"Huh? Yah. For my cousin's little girl."

"I should check out the gift shop, then. My friend's going to have a baby." The conversation was about to die, if Glen didn't come up with something to feed it. "You get to see her often - your cousin?"

The guy sat back a little, opening his posture - an indication of interest, visually letting down his guard. "Not as often as I'd like. They live one state over. But she is the fucking sweetest little thing. Swear to god. You got kids?" Bingo! The conversation was moving forward.

"Not yet," Glen couldn't explain about the reproduction permit because it only applied within Sesqui communities. You didn't want to broadcast that you were part of this elite caste. "Kids're great, eh? When my nephew was born - he's a teenager now - I was amazed just watching him learn about the world. It was like everything was new. You'd put a spoonful of a new food in his mouth and his eyes would bug out. My name's Glen, by the way. Mind if I join you? Just killing time here."

"Sure. Have a seat. I'm Frank." They shook hands. "I know what you mean about the eyes bugging out . . ."

And so the conversation continued, exchanging stories about youngsters, which happened to be Glen's new favourite topic. Eventually, Glen directed the conversation towards hitching a ride.

"You heading south?"

"Yup. Got a load to deliver in Asuncion. You looking for a lift?"

"Sure am. Do you have room?"

"Sure. I'm just going to make a pit stop, then I'll hit the road. You're welcome to hitch a ride."

"Thanks, that'd be great! I'll just be in the gift shop."

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