Chapter 12 ~ Joe Gets More Than a Fillup at the Gas Stop
Joe left Starbucks with mixed feelings about Jody Sanger. On one hand, he respected Jody’s ability as an investigative reporter. She’d discover anything anyone in Columbus knew about Joe and the Flamingos. She’d also find out any information on Joe Ritchie. On the the other hand, he always felt Jody liked him, liked him enough to get involved. He always hesitated, there was something about her that bothered him. He couldn’t put his finger quite on it what it was, but it was something. She was pretty, not in a knockout way, but she catch whistles from construction workers. She looked good in jeans. She was intelligent and witty. Still, he thought there was something.
Three miles south of West Lane Avenue, Joe signaled to turn right exiting the 315 and turning on to I-70. If he stayed on I-70 traveling west he leave Ohio, drive across Indiana and Illinois. He’d go over the Mississippi at St. Louis and about thirty miles west of St. Louis he’d leave I-70 and take state route 60 north until he reached Hannibal, Missouri. There, he cross back into Illinois and be only ten miles from Quincy and hopefully he’d find Max Stein. And, Max could tell him where he’d find Joe Ritchie.
Joe set his speed at 69 mph, four miles above the posted speed limit hoping the police wouldn’t bother him if he stayed under 70. He traveled in the passenger lane and watched other cars pass him as if they were heading to an emergency room. He played music on his iPhone connecting it by bluetooth to the car speakers. He sang along with his favorite songs. He felt good. He was going to find out about his father, maybe even meet him. At the moment, he wasn’t feeling angry at Joe Ritchie. He was more curious. He less desire to form any kind of relationship with the Joe Ritchie than a two-year old has to take a nap. He only wanted to meet Joe Ritchie and say, ‘Thanks for being there for mom and me. Thanks for helping me play ball. Thanks for taking me fishing.’ The more Joe thought this way, the more his anger began to rise up again and his curiosity slink away to a dark recess in his mind.
He tried to drive the angry thoughts out of his mind by concentrating on the scenary. Both sides of I-70 were farmlands. Many still had cornstalks waiting for harvest for feed corn for cows or pigs. He passed into Indiana and it was more of the same. The sun was now rising behind his back. He looked at the time on the console and saw it was 7:45 a.m. He’d miss the Indianapolis morning rush hour traffic. Joe estimated he pass through Indianapolis about 9 a.m. With any luck he’d make Quincy, Illinois, by mid afternoon.
About thirty-five miles outside of Indianapolis Joe’s bladder began sending signals he needed to stop for a bathroom break. Joe checked his fuel level, he was a bit under a half tank. He decided to look for stop where he could refill his coffee at Starbucks and find a gas station. He wasn’t sure of the Indiana laws about hand held cell phones, so he asked Siri, the iPhone’s electronic assistant, “Siri, where is the closest Starbucks?” Siri answered, “It’s 32 miles ahead in Greenville, Indiana. Take the North State Street exit and turn left. Starbucks will be a .5 miles ahead on your left.”
It was all good. The sky was blue, the sun rising, and coffee was waiting for him. Twenty-five minutes later Joe exited I-70, waited for at a red light to turn green at the top of the exit ramp. He took a left and turned into the first gas station that looked like it had inside bathrooms. On the green light, Joe turned left and went on a bridge spanning I-70 below him. Joe spotted a gas station on his right, he made a right turn signal and pulled into a pump. He filled his gas tank. Locked his car and went into the gas station to use the toilet facilities. He might buy a pack of gum for the ride.
That wasn’t all Joe found when he went inside.