You can read an intro HERE.
As he exited the old Buick, said good-bye and stuck out his thumb, about two minutes passed when a dark blue Volvo station wagon stopped. His friends warned him about the dangers of lone hitchhiking across the United States, but after reading a few classic novels on the subject, his zeal to try the task in this modern age was more then just a dream. His soul called for him to travel adventurously and cheaply. He was at a good point in his life. He had no obligations or responsibilities, and whatever happened, happened.
"Dude, there are some weirdos out there. This isn't the sixties when VW busses were in constant motion from coast to coast. This is not the dawning of a new era."
"I know this guy who tried to travel the country hitchhiking. He was picked up by so many pervs, and when he wouldn't suck 'em or let them give him head, he got abandoned on the side of the road."
"That's nothing. What about the hitchhiker who got axed up?"
"I looked that one up, and it is an urban legend."
"So what dude. What about all those freaked out 'copy-cat' killers out there? Didn't you see the Saw movies? What if someone tries something like that?"
He couldn't live on what ifs? He didn't want to be stifled. Moving deep inside him was a calling to go, travel, and let the spirits guide him. This wasn't some fetish. He knew that this had to be done, but when the rustic Volvo wagon stopped, he didn't know the twist of fate that was to become him.
As he approached the wagon from the rear, he noticed a big plastic container filled with food and an old army-green wool blanket covering the rest of it. As he looked into the backseat before opening the door, he saw a shabby, hard-bodied, brown suitcase. When he opened the door, a small blue elephant stuffed animal with orange inside the ears sat in the passenger seat. It was a cheap stuffed animal, the kind that you win out of one of those game machines at a bar or grocery store. He lowered his head, glanced at the driver and tried to conceal his surprise at the woman driver traveling alone.
She seemed normal looking with chin length curly hair and a pink sundress on her athletic frame. She wore sunglasses, and he couldn't see her eyes. Her mood, when she spoke, was less then cheerful and glumly polite at best.
"Hi. Where are you going?" she asked him.
"I'm going East." He didn't have a destination in mind. He began his journey in the Smoky Mountains. He walked and camped on the Appalachian Trail to Asheville. The Buick, his first real ride outside his friend who drove him to the drop-off in the mountains, picked him up in Asheville and let him out about twenty miles south at the top of the exit ramp on the busy interstate. The Volvo was only his second ride, and his nerves began to take hold.
"Are you in a hurry?" She asked. He thought that an odd question.
"Oh, not really."
"Well, you can just let me know where to drop you off. You can ride for as long as you like." He looked at her for maybe a second too long.
"Well, if you want a ride, your stuff will fit in the backseat. This is a dangerous place to linger with speeding traffic and all." He had only one very large backpack, and everything was in it including his wallet. All of a sudden, he had wished that his wallet was in his pocket, but it was too late to make that move. He had read the book by Lars Eighner, Travels with Lizbeth, and suddenly became worried that this seemingly normal looking woman would take off with all his stuff leaving him without as much his address book which kept all his emergency numbers.
He found himself saying, "Oh sure." He stepped to the left, opened the door, placed his pack on the seat and closed the door with nervous anxiety. As the door banged shut, the moment of truth gripped his gut as he wondered if she would drive off. He moved towards the front door that he unconsciously left ajar. He moved the little blue elephant, sat in the passenger seat and closed the door. She didn't move.
"Seatbelt," she said in a motherly fashion. As the seatbelt clicked, she merged into traffic.
To be continued...