Chapter 16 ~ Joe & Sam are on the Road
Joe placed his venti Starbucks in the cup holder and held a breakfast wrap in his left hand. He pulled out of Starbucks and headed for I-70. Sam looked straight ahead.
“Git in the left lane now, so’s you won’t have to git in it later,” said Sam.
Joe glanced over at Sam, and said, “I know how to drive.”
“Any fool can drive, but you got to have street sense to drive safely. Look, you got in the left lane, but you didn’t give your turn signal. That’s a violation of the law. You’re supposed to signal lane changes, it just makes common sense. Now over the bridge, your gonna make a left on the access ramp, don’t take it too fast because it’s a sharp curve. And, don’t forget your turn signal.”
“Are you going to do this for the next six hours?” asked Joe.
Sam ignored Joe. He said, “You ever been married?”
Joe signaled and turned onto the access ramp. He said, “No. Not even close.”
“You don’t know what you been missing. Take me. I been married three times. And, I lived with two other women, I guess you could count those as marriages. I don’t know what it is about me, but I got this sex appeal that attracts women like I put on moose scent.”
Joe fought the urge to laugh and said, “Which woman did you like best?”
Sam pulled the toothpick out of his mouth and began sticking it between his teeth. “I could take my teeth out and put them on my lap to clean them, but I don’t think that’s polite.”
“Not to mention sanitary,” said Joe.
“It’s sanitary, okay. One time I took my teeth out when I was in a bar because I know’d they needed to be cleaned. I dropped them in my glass of beer. Beer works wonders on false teeth, did you know that? Where was I?” asked Sam.
“You were telling me about your favorite wife,” said Joe trying to decide if he should take the loop around Indianapolis or go straight through the city.
“They each was different. I liked Jenny best. She was a looker. That was her problem, she was always looking everyplace she shouldn’t be looking and when I came home one day when I wasn’t supposed to be coming home until later, she and Johnny Logan was doing more in the bedroom than making a bed if you know what I mean.”
Sam switched topics faster than a hungry child going through French fries. “Go straight through the city. It will be fifteen minutes quicker.”
Joe heard another text come through. He looked at the screen on his dashboard. It was from Jody.
“Who’s Jody?” asked Sam.
“Someone I used to work with,” said Sam.
“What kind of work do you do? I should have asked this question before I got in your car. Just because you got flash don’t mean you got cash,” said Sam.
Joe took a deep breath. He got as far as seven when Sam interrupted him, “You’re not one of those on the no fly list. If you are let me out at the next truck stop. You pull anything wise on me I carry a knife in my sock and I know how to use it.”
“Sam, the traffic is heavy; I don’t have time for your nonsense. I was a sports TV announcer. You know, I did sports on the 11 o’clock news in Columbus. I quit my job to find Joe Ritchie.”
“Why’d you do a dumb ass thing like quitting a job to find a deadbeat, no good, father who didn’t care enough about you to change a single diaper, answer me that question?” said Sam taking a sip of Joe’s Starbucks.
“You wouldn’t understand. It’s something I have to do or it’s going to eat at me for the rest of my life.”
Sam didn’t say anything. He stared straight ahead and held Joe’s Starbucks coffee in his right hand, “I’m going to tell you a story Joe. Don’t interrupt me. Because if you interrupt me I’ll have to start over. You understand?”
Joe turned and reached for his Starbucks cup. Sam handed it to him, “You paid three bucks for this. You’re going to go broke before you hit Denver. I was hitching a ride across country bout twenty-two years ago. I made my way to a truck stop down in Effingham. We’ll hit Effinham in about ninety minutes. I went inside the truck stop and went over the restaurant area. I bought a piece of pecan pie and a cup of coffee. The good thing about truck stops is that the restaurant will keep giving you refills on the coffee. The only problem, if you leave your stool to take a leak they clean your spot for another trucker. I sat and nursed my coffee. After bout an hour, a scraggly looking trucker walks in, he looked like hadn’t had a good meal in six months. He was twenty-five going on seventy. That boy had a lot of wear and tear on him. He sat next to me, orders coffee and burger. He says, “Where you headed?” He thinks I’m driving a rig. I said, “I don’t know. I going to wherever someone kind enough decides to take me. He says, “I’m going to Denver, how’s that sound. I says, “I always wanted to go to Denver, they got a US mint there. Maybe the government will give me some money. Thirty minutes later we’re on the road to Denver. I said, ‘What’s your story?’ That’s all I said. Nothing more. I’m always interested in people’s stories. I didn’t know if he’d say anything. But you shoulda been there.”
Joe turned his head toward Sam and said, “What did he say?”
Sam said, “If you listen, you’re going to learn a lesson that’s going to help you git through life.”