3 | Hitchhiker

I need to stop taking drugs every time I get bored, I said. Did that actually just happen?

We were speeding away from The Crater of Mad Mike, looking for the next place to devour any kind of alcohol and substance absorbing foods. What the fuck just happened?

He just… died, I said, still stunned.

Whatever fast food joint we found next, I didn’t care enough to remember. I had tunnel vision for burgers. Trying to process the fact that I just witnessed a man’s death, I ate four double cheese burgers with bacon and barbeque sauce, nothing else because why ruin a good pile of meat by adding vegetables?

I wiped the grease from my face and dropped the napkin into a crinkled brown bag with the rest of my shame, and leaned back in my seat with a heavy sigh. The entire pound of beef I’d just consumed settled like a fine replacement for the brick of anxiety caused by my sudden fear of death.

Where to next?

I pulled out the paper map of California I’d picked up at the last Valero before Barstow and pinned it to a tree in front of my parking space. After looking around for innocent eyes, I unfolded my Kershaw and threw it into the paper.

Mariposa? Well it can’t be too bad. It looks like Yosemite is just past it.

I unpinned the map from the tree and tucked it into my pocket. Back at the Tacoma, CA Man trudged our direction from the road, like a lost puppy, backpack in hand, black steel toed boots finally on his massive feet. He wanted to come with us.

Somehow, the charm of a single highway in the middle of nowhere was beginning to fade. There was only one direction we could have possibly been headed for so many miles, too many miles. It was impossible for CA Man to not catch up.

I searched my peripherals for any physical route of escape, then realized that it might look strange to run away from a grown man I just watched cry not thirty minutes ago. Did we ever find out if he believed the earth was flat? My mind raced for any kind of exit from this situation, but it always landed at the same conclusion. There was nowhere else to go.

It was hard to not consider letting him hitch a ride.

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