Chapter 18 ~ Don’t Kill the Messenger
Joe’s flash of anger ripped through him like streak lightening. He said, “You don’t know what I feel. It’s none of your business what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. When we get to Quincy I’m leaving you off and you’ll have to figure it out from there. Do me a favor and don’t speak to me the rest of the way.”
Sam cocked his head a bit toward Joe, “Don’t git mad at me. I’m the messenger. You can take it or leave it. Keep your eyes on the road and quit pissing about the poor choices your making with your life. You’re driving too close to the shoulder, you know that? And, you’re getting too close to the car in front of you. If she stops quickly, you’re gonna backend her. Who taught you how to drive?
Joe snapped, “It wasn’t Joe Ritchie.”
“You see those cement blocks in the middle that prevent cars from crossing over?” asked Sam.
“So, big deal. I see them,” said Joe keeping an angry edge to his voice.
“Your head is thicker than the cement blocks. I’d have better luck talking to the cement blocks than I will with you. There’s a trucker stop coming up, I need to take a leak. You can buy me a fountain soda on the way out.”
“Why should I buy you a fountain soda?”
“Because I asked you nicely. Like I said, I’m the messenger,” said Sam.
Joe signaled to pull onto the exit ramp, and said, “If you’re the messenger, who sent you?”
Sam paused for a moment, hocked up some phlegm and swallowed it. Then he said, “Three weeks ago, they had a revival in town. Man, could the preacher talk. The first night there were only twenty people. I went because there was free sandwiches and coffee. I don’t pass up free food. I liked what the preacher was saying. On the second night the tent was full. I made sure I was sitting in the front row. And on the third and final night, people was standing outside the tent just to hear the preacher preach the word. I was sitting in the first row. Right near the end of his sermon, the preacher gits real quiet and then he looks straight at me and says, ‘The good Lord at this moment is choosing some of you to spread the message.’ Well when he said that to me personally, I decided the good Lord was choosing me to be the messenger. I didn’t know where I was being sent. Now I know. I was sent to you.”
Joe closed his eyes for a second, why me? Why did I let him ride with me? He is certifiable. He needs to be in a home where he can get care. Okay, only three and half more hours of listening to his nonsense, you can do it Joe.
They rode quietly for the next twenty minutes. Joe stared straight head at the road. Sam sipped on his forty-eight ounce Dr. Pepper. Every once in a while he’d punch himself in the chest with his closed fist and burp. Joe shook his head and said nothing. Each time Sam burped, the smell of digested donuts filled the air. They drove past the Arch and through Saint Louis.
When they cleared the city, Sam spoke, “Stay in the right lane, you’re going to have exit on 61.”
“I have a GPS that’s guiding me. I don’t need your help,” said Joe.
“Still mad, huh? How’s that working for yah? Did you read your text from your girlfriend, Jody?” asked Sam.
Joe realized he forgot all about Jody’s text. He meant to read it, but his thoughts were wrapped around Sam.
Sam reached over and took Joe’s iPhone out of the console. “I’ll read it to you. Your driving.”
“Give me my phone,” demanded Joe.
“Why don’t you give me your password and I can read it to you. What’s it going to hurt? Pay attention, take 61 toward Hannibal in five miles, ” said Sam.
“My password is 0 4 2 2. Do you need help finding the iMessage app?”
“That your birthday? It sounds like a birthday. I know what an app is. I know how to text. Just because I don’t dress or talk as fancy as you doesn’t mean I’m ignorant,” said Sam.
Joe didn’t answer. Sam guessed right, it was his birthday. He signaled to turn right on exit toward Hannibal, Missouri. He glanced over at Sam. “Hey, stay out of my photos.”
“Who’s this good looking girl? That Jody?”
“No, that’s Marie. Read Jody’s text.”
“Who’s Marie?” asked Sam.
“She left me when I told her I was taking off to find Joe Ritchie.”
Sam said, “Did you love her? Did she love you?”
Joe took a deep breath, “We told each each other we loved each other. She couldn’t understand me taking off to find my real father. I guess she didn’t love me enough.”
Sam raised his eyebrows toward Joe, he said, “You got to be kidding me. You let someone who told you she loved you to looking for a piece of trash? Your head is cross threaded. You need help. You better not toss me out. I’m your salvation.”
“I suppose that’s another message?” snapped Joe.
“I’m only the messenger. You got a problem with that take it up with somebody bigger than me,” said Sam.
“Read Jody’s message,” Joe said.
Sam moved his finger along the iPhone’s screen. He tapped on an icon. “I got the message. It’s a long one. Wow, this is interesting. I didn’t know this. That son of a bitch.”
“What? Read it out loud,” said Joe.
What Did Jody Say In Her Text to Joe? Read Chapter 19 on Monday, April 9.