“Well, how’d you meet?” Ed persists.
“You ain’t gonna believe this, but she was at one of the rest stops along my route. Somewhere in Ohio, past Cleveland.”
“Sounds romantic.” Ed chuckles and finishes his beer. “Sure you don’t want another? You only turn the big 4-0 once, man.”
“Oh, what the hell? Why not? Sure.”
Ed leaves and returns with two bottles of some brand of Christmas ale. The foamy liquid gold slides down Russ’s throat with ease.
“I doubt I’ll see her again,” Russ says. “I think she might be homeless or somethin’.”
“Dude, that’s messed up. You’ve got a thing for a homeless chick? What’s her best feature? The lice in her hair or the trash bag she wears?”
Russ stops smiling. “Don’t be a jerk, Ed.”
“Sorry, sorry.” Ed sets down his beer and holds up both hands in mock-surrender. “Just a bad joke, but c’mon, pal, you don’t really think you’re gonna score with a chick like that.”
“No.” Russ smirks, but he can’t help the prickle of sadness that creeps into his heart. He hasn’t had any feelings for a woman in years. The long hours on the road, the time away from home–it keeps him busy and thinking about anything other than falling in love again. Or that’s the lie he feeds himself.
Ed slaps Russ on the back, snapping him out of his thoughts. “Look at the time! It’s almost the New Year. I gotta find Susan. Find a girl somewhere in here to kiss, man. At least give yourself that.”
Russ smiles and shakes his head. “Go get your latest fling, you crazy son-of-a-bitch.”