If turning forty was supposed to make Russ feel age’s sudden grip on him, he is glad he still has his usual energy. His schedule doesn’t allow for him to stop of the rest area by mile marker 139 in Ohio this week. Just because the weather is bad, shipments still have to be made. A day or two shifts when he’s running behind schedule, but every time he’s home, he isn’t really home. That apartment has only ever been a place to lay down his head.
He pulls off at a truck station in the middle of Indiana. It’s late, but not so late that other truckers aren’t hogging every chair and couch in the lounge. He showers and grabs some food, then returns to find an open spot.
“This taken?” he asks the guy sitting next to it.
The grizzle-haired, scruffy man shrugs and shakes his head.
“Thanks.” Russ sits and watches some national news program, finding himself zoning out.
“The stuff’s depressin’,” the guy next to him remarks. “Same ol’ shit ev’ry day.”
Russ chuckles. “Someone could change the station. I’d much rather watch ESPN.”
“Good huntin’ show’d be nice.” The guy sits up in his seat. His accent is Appalachian. “You a New Yorker?”
Russ laughs. “What gave me away?”
“Way yeh talk. You got somethin’ nice waitin’ for yeh back home?”
“Funny you’d call it home. My truck’s more my home than anything. How about you?”
“Nah, and yeah, know what yeh mean ‘bout the truck. Been drivin’ for damn near forty years, friend.”
“Damn, man. That’s a long time.”
“Keeps me outta trouble.” The guy winks, and Russ chuckles.
“Yep. No drinkin’ on the job.”
“Yeah, that’s definitely not allowed, my friend.” Russ tries for levity, but seeing the state of the poor sucker next to him unsettles dinner in his stomach.
The older man chuckles, which turns into a series of coughs. He stands with the aid of the chair and fingers something in his coat pocket. “These here things’ll be the death of me, son. Don’ be a fool like me, boy. Don’ smoke, drink, or fall ‘n love.”
As the guy walks away, still hacking, Russ says in a low voice, “I’ll try to remember that.”
Like what you’ve read? Please subscribe to my blog, where I post an excerpt every Saturday.
My novel, Lorna versus Laura, is available for only $2.99 here.
My novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, is available for $3.99 here.