Monday, June 22, 2009

Short Story: Getting Somewhere

Well, been a while off the old blogging train here, but thought I'd try this. I'm probably not getting back to any regular posting, but wanted to try to write something - anything - good, bad, or unreadable. Been down with a flu bug here and have a day or two off work. Read the Ed Brubaker graphic novel "Coward" (Vol 1 of the Criminal series) and wanted to write something again. So here it is. Don't know if it's any good, but had to prove to myself I still could :) Enjoy if you can...


The engine of that Peterbilt moaned as the driver worked his way down through the gears. Then the unmistakable whoosh of the air brakes brought the shiny chromed workhorse of a machine to a stop by the side of the road. With every running light on and the reflections in the metal, it was like a ghost ship of hope coming through the dark night to the hitchhiker on the side of the road. She put her thumb down, grabbed her bag from the dirt, and climbed up into the waiting cab.

“Thanks for stopping! You’re a lifesaver.” She tossed her bag at her feet and turned to take in the driver. He was built thick and muscled, on the scruffy side of good looking. A beard and John Deere ball cap bookended what were sadly kind eyes however, and the young girl felt at ease even with a stranger.

“No problem, darlin’. Where you headed now?” he replied as he let her get situated in her seat, and gave her a once over. A little young for hitching rides he thought.

“Home to Thunder Bay. How far are you going?”

“Further than that, but I can get you there.” He checked his mirror, released the brakes, and started back onto the highway, going back up through the gears to get up to speed.

“Thanks. My name is Lorrie, by the way.”

“Jack. Nice to meet you. Been on the road long?”

“Not really. Just trying to get home. Nowhere else to go when you’re broke and bottomed out, right?” She sighed and looked back out the window.

“Makes sense I guess. Though I’d think a Greyhound would be safer than hitching for someone as young as yourself. Never know who’s out here. They ain’t all as nice as me.” he laughed as he shifted gears again.

“Well, I’m old enough. But broke means broke. I just want to get home, mend some fences maybe. Where I went didn’t work. Had it better where I was. Too bad you never know that at the time.”

He nodded and they carried on in easy quiet for a stretch, rolling through the miles under the moonlight. He thought she had nodded off, but she spoke again, eyeing a picture on the dash.

“Who’s that? Someone special?” she asked pointing to the faded picture of a woman he had taped up long ago.

“Yeah, someone special. She was my wife. Took that last ride to the other side a few years ago now.” He looked at the photo for a few seconds before gazing back out the windshield at the road ahead.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. What happened?” She asked without thinking, a fault of the young.

He didn’t answer right away, and she thought he might not say a thing. Eventually though, he did. “A couple drunks, behind the wheel with too much power and not enough brains. Crossed the median when she was driving home and wrecked it. The docs did what they could, but couldn’t do enough. I got the call from my dispatcher. Never pushed this old girl so hard. Drove all night through a whiteout blizzard to get back, almost lost it myself a couple times. Just made it in time to say goodbye.”

She was quiet for some time after that, as she just didn’t know what to say. He didn’t blame her and welcomed the quiet. He wasn’t sure why he’d said so much, but sometimes it was easier talking to strangers. Still, he figured he should break the silence.
“You know, it’s good you’re going back home. Family is important. I don’t know what fences you got to mend, but it’s worth the work.”

She nodded soberly, then asked “Do you get back home much now?”

“No, been out here ever since. Her and the road were the only places I ever found any peace. Down to one now. But I like it out on the highway. What about you? Been gone long?”

“Yeah. I went looking for things that were bigger than me. Was going to be a model, have fame and fortune. It didn’t work very well. Wound up doing some things I’m not proud of. And now I’m broke and going home. Can’t say they didn’t warn me. I was just too stubborn and had to do it my way. I’m pretty sure I broke my Momma’s heart too, and disappointed my Daddy. I just hope they’ll open the door for me when I get back.”

“Well, good families are thicker than blood. They had the good sense to warn you, so I’m pretty sure they’ll just be happy you made it back. Parents never really let go of their kids.”

“I hope so. I left a good boy back there too. He wanted to get married and I wanted to see the world.” She turned back to the starlit night outside the glass of the truck cab and said quietly. “Now look at me.”

He did, and he saw a fallen angel, just one of many. But she was at least moving in the right direction.

“Well,” he finally said. “I’ll bet it’ll work out. Might not be all roses and smiles for a bit, but you’re doing the right thing now. That counts for a lot.”

She turned to look at him. “Did it work out for you? I mean, what happened was awful. How does that work out?”

He hadn’t thought of that, and it took him a minute to respond. “I don’t really know. I miss her a lot, I do. But somewhere out here I’ll find it. Like I said, it ain’t all roses and smiles, but you take what you can get. I keep rollin’ and it’ll work out somewhere.”

She smiled at him and nodded before they lapsed into easy silence again. As the miles passed and they drove through the night, she finally did put her head back and fell asleep, at ease with a stranger beside her at the wheel. He glanced at her from time to time, and wondered if her dreams were the good kind.

They rolled into Thunder Bay as the first hint of sunup pushed through the night sky. He tapped her on the shoulder to wake her. “We’re here. Where can I drop you off?”

She rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “The bus station is close enough. I can walk home from there.”

He brought the Peterbilt to a stop again outside the bus depot and applied the brakes. Turning to his rider he knew he should say something.

“Well, you hang in there Lorrie, I hope you find what you’re looking for. Hang on to that family of yours and mend those fences any way you can. Life’s too short for stubborn pride anyway.”

“Thanks.” She paused, then smiled again. “For the ride and the talk. I hope you find that somewhere that’ll work out too.”

He nodded. “Good luck, darlin’ ”, he said as she climbed down out of the cab and shut the door. A wave goodbye sent him on his way as he pulled back onto the blacktop, opening the throttle and shifting gears. As the sun kept coming up, his thoughts lingered awhile on Lorrie and he hoped she’d find her way down the right road, and maybe even marry that good boy she once knew.

As for him, he was married to the road now, and he wouldn’t have it any other way either. She could be a cruel mistress too, and a rough ride was to be expected. But if you knew how to love her, and handle her curves just right, she could make you feel at home in the middle of nowhere or just somewhere in between. It was where he felt the best, and the most peace he could find anywhere now. Some thought it was a lonely, bleak life, but then they just didn’t understand her, the road. It’d be their loss.

So he drove on, living for those light beams in the dark, the white line, catching that next shift, and rolling by another mile marker. Glancing at the picture on the dashboard, it was all he really cared to know anymore, anyway.

As long as those wheels were turning, he could still tell himself he was getting somewhere.

The End.

Comments on "Short Story: Getting Somewhere"


Blogger The Texican said ... (June 22, 2009 7:20 AM) : 

Hello EW, Glad you decided to post occasionally. That was a great story. I enjoy your sense of justice heros. I'll be watching for the next one to pop up on the reader. Hope the flu is over for you. Pappy


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (June 22, 2009 6:09 PM) : 

Glad to see a new story posted. Thanks!

I wasn't sure where the story was going, and some of it seemed slightly predictable, but you always have great endings to your stories, and you didn't disappoint this time. The last line really turned it into a thought-provoking piece. Very nice.

I'm left wondering if Jack is really making progress, whether he's foolling himself, whether he knows he's fooling himself. Is he hiding from pain and life? Or is the road really the life he wants and what he finds most satisfying? Is he secretly hoping for more while limiting his chances to find it?

And what does all that mean for the reader?

It's great when stories make me pause and think at the end.

Looking forward to the next story, as always!



Blogger Eaglewing said ... (June 23, 2009 6:00 AM) : 

Pappy: Thanks for reading and commenting. Figure an occasional post is better than none at all :) Thanks for the well wishes. Take care.


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (June 23, 2009 6:06 AM) : 

originallru: Thanks for reading and the feedback. Lots of questions there...though I'll just let the reader decide. :) Glad you enjoyed it and got something out of it. Always good for a writer to hear.


Blogger Keanan Brand said ... (June 26, 2009 1:49 AM) : 

Just adding my "I like it!" to the other comments. Good story.

Glad you ventured back to the blogosphere, even if it's only for a short spell.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 29, 2010 12:24 AM) : 

IS VERY GOOD..............................


post a comment