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Don Yarber Don Yarber
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Hitchhikers Should Be Seen, Not Heard - Hitchhiker Anthology


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She had a friend.

      Hitchhikers Should Be Seen, Not Heard  © 2011 Don Yarber


       The man was dressed a little shabbily, but not so much as you would think a hitchhiker might be.  He needed a shave and when he got in the car you could smell the booze.  
       Dad didn’t say anything until the old Chevrolet was once again purring down the highway.  
       “Where you going?” He finally asked.
       “I’m trying to get to Murphysboro,” the man said.  “I’ve been walking for an hour, you’re the first car that’s stopped.”
       “You live in Murphysboro?” Dad asked.
       “No, I’m from Johnston City,” the man said, “I want to get to Murphysboro to visit my ex-wife.  She’s taking me to court again wanting me to pay more child support.”      
       “Divorced, huh?” Dad asked.
       “Yeah.” The man said.  “And remarried.  I can tell you it aint easy trying to support two women and five kids.”
       “That’s true,” Dad said.  I could tell what Dad was thinking.  If you can’t raise ‘em, don’t have ‘em.
       We had been taught since we were little tots not to ask for money, don’t take charity, work for what you get, and if you ever get married and have kids, for God’s sake, support them.
       I guess I was about 14 at that time.  My brother, Chuck, was 11.  We had been fishing since early morning and the fish we had in the trunk of the old Chevrolet smelled better than the hitchhiker.
       Dad was silent for a while, but the man kept on talking.  He told how he had fought his current wife, how he had gone to Marion and got drunk.  How he had slept in a parked car overnight and decided to hitchhike to Murphysboro to see his ex-wife.
       “I might try to talk her into a little bit of nookie,” the man said.
       “Don’t talk that way in my car,” Dad said.  “My boys are in the back seat.  Watch what you say.”
       “O.K.” The man said.  “I don’t mean no harm by it.”
       “If you don’t mean it, don’t say it,” Dad told him. “My boys are not used to any bad language of any kind.  No cussin, no vulgarity.”
       My Dad was one that didn’t mince words.  If he had something to say to someone, he said it.  If folks didn’t like it, then that was just too danged bad.  He would say it anyway.  And if they took offense enough to call him out on it, Dad would make short work of any dispute.  He wasn’t very tall, maybe five nine, but he was big.  Folks who knew him were aware of the fact that you don’t mess with Luther.
       Once a man had called Dad a liar and the fight was on.  Dad beat the guy pretty bad, but when he got home he noticed blood on his bib overalls.  When he put his hand under the bib he knew he was cut.  It took 64 stitches to sew him up.  The man had pulled a razor and cut him.  
       After the doctor sewed him up, Dad walked four miles to where the man was staying and called him out and beat the crap out of him again.  You just didn’t mess with Luther.
       The man remained silent after that, knowing by the tone of Dad’s voice that he had better watch what he said.
       We hadn’t gone much further than five miles towards town when we came up behind a Pepsi Cola truck, traveling in the same direction.  It was traveling a little slower than we were, so Dad eased up on the old Chevy and fell in behind it, waiting for a chance to pass.  
       Just about then the Pepsi truck hit a bump in the asphalt pavement and a case of empty Pepsi bottles fell off of the back, hit the road, bounced once and hit the right front fender of the old Chevy.  Dad had swerved, trying to miss the case of empties, but after hitting it, he straightened the wheel and honked his horn.  
       The drive of the Pepsi truck had apparently seen what happened in his rear view mirror.  He pulled over, off on the shoulder of the road.  Dad steered the old Chevy in behind him.
       As it turned out, Dad knew the Pepsi truck driver.  He had known him for years.  The fellow was a man in his thirties, very tall, and very broad shouldered.  I’m not sure but I think Dad had worked in the mines with the fellow’s father at some point.
       They exchanged information and the fellow was very apologetic, offered to pay for the damage to Dad’s car.  Dad just smiled and said that it wasn’t hurt much and that he could get a friend of his to fix it for little or nothing.
       Soon we were back on the road, having pulled out and ahead of the Pepsi truck.
       “Aint you gonna sue that company?” The hitchhiker asked.
       “What are you talking about?” Dad wanted to know.
       “Why if it was me, I’d of got out of this car and went to holding my neck and told that driver I had wrenched my neck trying to avoid hitting that case of empties.  I’d of got me a Doctor to swear to it, and I’d own a part of that company, or else owned that truck.”
       Dad was quiet for a few seconds.  Then he steered the old Chevy to the side of the road and off onto the shoulder.  He slowed it down and stopped.
       “What’re we stopping here fer?” The man asked.
       “Get out,” Dad said.
       “Get out?  What fer?  What’d I do, I aint said nothing out of line that your younguns could hear?”
       “Get out,” Dad repeated.  “If you’d sue them, you’d sue me.  Now get out of my car before I drag you out and beat the living crap out of you.  I don’t need no scum like you suing me, or my friends.  Just get out!”
       The man opened the door and got out.
       Dad put the old Chevy in low and stuck his left arm out the window and signaled.  Then he let out the clutch and we pulled slowly but surely back onto the highway.  He shifted gears as I glanced out the rear view mirror.  The hitchhiker was standing on the shoulder with his right hand held high.  I didn’t tell Dad that he had the middle finger of his right hand up.  If I had,  Dad would have stopped that old Chevy, walked back and shoved that finger up the man’s ass.
      
The End


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