HITCH HIKER 2

short story by Stewart Terman 

(hich’hik’)  v -hiked. -hik-ing, -hikes

  ‘To travel by soliciting free rides along a road—tr.  To

   solicit or get (a free ride) along a road—hitch’hik’er

   REF:  The American College Dictionary/Second College

   Edition:   pg 614’

(pat-ois)  n- a regional dialect;  ibid pg 910

Hitch hiking is a skill improved with diligent persistence,

that now seems be practiced by fewer individuals, as 

people with cars become more wary of picking up

strangers who are standing at the side of the road.

And who’d really blame them..?

I was such a hitch hiker, once picked up by a fortune teller..

Younger, few dollars; needing to get home from Columbus

with the Greyhound company charges a bit higher than I

could afford.

Colder weather, although the weatherman wasn’t

predicting any snow, with the traffic hustling

north on I-71 as I looked.

My big dreams all fit carefully into a small suitcase; a December

sky with the darkening afternoon as I stood quietly

by the side of the highway

hoping the police didn’t see me.

Nice cars passing by, some with a passenger or two, and

room in most, although none stopped as they headed

home to their suburban dinners.

An hour went by and miraculously an old grey Chevrolet with

an old Black driver slowed down and  stopped.

“Where you goin’ boy?”  “Cleveland”

“Ok, get in.”

The driver appeared poor, old, and rough looking,

but I was too cold to worry if he was a criminal.  He had

a shabby coat and worn shoes, speaking the patois of Superior 

Ave. where I’d worked part-time,  reassuringly familiar, with

his few kindly words and practical knowledge directed to me.

I thawed out slowly, and it was not until Mansfield that I felt

warm enough to converse a bit, he doing more listening

than speaking, as I told him that I wished

to continue at college, and eventually go to medical 

school if my grades allowed, and if I could afford to. 

He was 68, looked older, did odd jobs, and lived

in the inner city, near where I’d worked at a

used-car lot for a while as a teen ager in 1963.  I was

now 19, in school, and the future unfolding with the 

highway.

I-271 turn off.   “Be snowin’ soon, I’ll getcha home.” His car

going some miles out of his way as he dropped me off

right at my parents’ front door.

I thanked him as I got out, and before he drove off, he turned,

wishing me well;  ”..study hard, study hard, you’ll be a good

docta..”

He seemed to see the future though it was such a long way off.

His advice was freely given along with the ride, both gratefully

accepted, and it was starting to snow just as he knew it would.

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