Monday, November 15, 2004

Walking Away - Chapter 13: Missed Turn

His eyes felt like lead weights and his body felt like it was ten feet away from his head. He was exhausted and trying to find his way to a place he had never been before in this miserable weather. The heat in the pickup was cranked at full bore to ward off the chills that were starting to invade his body. Now when he didn’t think he could stay awake for another minute, he had gone and done some jackass move like this one.

Doug had started heading down the mountain when he realized his mistake. He had passed Highway 103 and had been looking for the next road, which should have been Fire Tower Road but he had evidently passed it. About a mile past Highway 103, there had been a sharp curve in the road and as he had gone by with a string of traffic, he had glimpsed a man with a backpack standing along the road. As he looked in the rearview mirror wondering why the hell someone would be out hiking in this kind of weather, he had evidently missed his turn off. Why else would someone be waiting to cross the road if there hadn’t been another road going somewhere else? The man had said that if he started heading back down the mountain he had gone to far but with a trailer, he couldn’t just stop and back up all that way in the middle of this storm. He had no choice but to drive the three miles down the mountain to Ponca, turn around and head back the way he’d come.

Between the long hours driving, the rain, and the cold medication, he was zonked and ready to get some sleep for a few hours. To hell with the man to whom he was supposed to deliver the car, the delivery time had already passed and being late was a guaranteed certainty. If he was going to be late anyway, he might as well catch a few hours of sleep after he picked up the car and leave back for Iowa first thing in the morning. He had lost his profit margin on this hot shot run but right now, he didn’t give a damn. What he would give to be home, watching some nudie flick with his buddies, and drinking a beer.

As he neared the top of the mountain where the road began to straighten out, his head began to slowly tilt forward as if tumbling off his shoulders. The approaching lights of a car heading down the mountain turned the cab of the truck into a shimmering blue halo of light as it refracted through the rain and off the wet pavement. Doug’s head slowly reeled back up as if being pulled by a string and if the occupants of the car heading down the mountain could have seen him, they would have seen that his eyes were closed.

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