Road was rollin’ road and swiggin’ whiskey and feeling utterly smug as he crossed the Arizona border on Highway 40 about two hours after he became a rich man.
“Yahoo!” he bellowed ~ and noticed a figure sitting on a fence near the highway with his thumb out and waving.
Road picked him up.
“Thanks a lot, partner,” said the hitch-hiker who wore a cowboy hat, carried a ten ton pack, and who offered Road a candy bar.
“Thank you,” said Road, taking it, and offered a swig of his whiskey.
“No thanks,” said the hitch-hiker. “I get my high out there.” He waved his hand toward the hills.
“Well, I’m celebrating,” said Road.
“What ya celebratin?”
“Just robbed a bank.”
“Yehaa!” bellowed the hitch-hiker. “Guess I will help ya a tiny bit with that brew,” and he grabbed for the half pint bottle. With it held motionless below his nose, he squinted. “Hey, they ain’t gonna catch ya, are they?”
“Probably,” said Road.
“Well, guess I’ll just have to go to jail with ya, since I’m celebratin’ with ya.” He slurped it up and handed it back.
“Yep,” said Road. He had one more swig, then drank no more, ’cause he was driving and wasn’t quite ready to die in his last wreck. He had things to do.
“My name’s Jason Poke,” said the hitch-hiker extending his hand. “I’m a cowboy from Wyoming.”
They shook on it.
“Just call me Road,” said Road ~ and they traveled on. The cowboy stank with a tang ~ and Road knew a brobo (brother and hobo) when he smelled one.
The whole highway was covered with campers pulling speed boats and dune buggies ~ as is usual in this modern day and age ~ spiced a bit by an occasional giant diesel van stompin’ along. It seemed every vehicle on the road was a new one ~ except Road’s old ’56 ex-milk truck.
“Shit,” muttered the cowboy as Road handed him the bottle. “Look at all this damn materialism flashing by.” And he snuck a gulp.
A low slung 1973 Buick passed the old truck like it was a dead snail.
“Yeah,” said Road ~ and nodded his head.
“Give me a horse and I’m fine,” said the cowboy. “Give me my feet and I’m fine too. Especially since I don’t have a horse.” He screwed the cap on the bottle ~ was done with it. He gave it back to Road, who put it in the glove compartment.
A lone beat up old VW van poked by in the opposite direction. The driver, who had a girl with him, waved. Road waved back.
“You gonna buy a new car with all your stolen money ~ and a boat?” asked the cowboy with a sneeky grin.
“No,” said Road.
“Pardon me for askin’, brother, but what are you going to do with it?” squinted the cowboy.
Road stuck a long thin cigar ‘tween his lips. The cowboy struck a match in the wind and lit it for him. “Thanks,” said Road, and a few minutes later, with a puff, answered the question, “I’m going to educate the masses,” and he laughed in a merry way.
(Copyright Clyde Collins 1974, 2010, 2017)