|Spielberg and ET|
Somehow, I had weighed the pros and cons and decided that hitch-hiking was a good idea.
I'd even convinced a friend that the high adventure pros outweighed the possible cons of hitch-hiking through rural Montana. Besides, all the spooky stories about the one-armed man with a hook preying on hitch-hikers weren't true.
It was the morning before Thanksgiving. Promises of mashed potatoes and a roasted tofurky (the not-so-delightful mash of tofu shaped into a holiday turkey) sent us out the door with our backpacks. We planned to make it to my friends parents house in Missoula Montana by sun-down.
Walking toward the edge of our small Idaho college town, I felt the thrilling nervousness of gambling. Clad in a thick red mitten my thumb gave the universal signal of a traveler.
A rusted yellow hatchback buzzed us out of town. We rode for a hour. Then 30 minutes in the back of a potato farmers truck with his dog and another 30 with a blonde-haired kid who listened to Depeche Mode's Somebody on repeat. It began to drizzle rain. Silent, my friend and I stared at each other till the kid dumped us somewhere on I-15. The high adventure I had promised wasn't panning out. We couldn't get a solid ride.
There's always a moment when you wonder if you made the wrong choice. Suddenly, being cold, hungry and trapped in a snow storm on a black empty highway not longer held its romance. This was that moment.
Out of the darkness the bright lights of a truck wheeled closer. Shielding our eyes we stuck out our thumbs and crossing our fingers. Slush sprayed in my face as the truck flew past us. But then...
there were break lights! Ha!!
Laughing, we ran for the truck! A ride.
As I opened the passenger door, the smell of new car wafted over us. My eyes took a quick inventory. Clean truck. Nice older man with gray hair and no mustache (watch out for mustaches) his teeth were clean and white, no plaque (watch out for plaque). He was eating Wheat Thins. Good people eat Wheat Thins. Introducing myself, I jumped into the middle seat and began thawing my mittens. My friend shook his jacket and settled next to me. The man was passing through Missoula!! This was perfect.
The mans left arm reached for the steering wheel and his right moved to shift the gears. In an instant, I felt like ice was penetrating my lungs and I froze. Afraid to breath. Blinking. Then shifting my eyes. Gawking. A hook was where this mans hand was supposed to be. A HOOK!
My insides scattered into a billion tiny pieces searching for a way out. Foolish hitch-hikers! I could see how quickly his hook could gut us, then hang our bloody dripping bodies in a tree over an broken down car full of teenagers making out, then screaming as they listen to a radio bulletin about a dangerous escaped convict in the area! The dripping blood would coax the teens out of the car and then he would gut them too!
Every scary true story I'd ever hear coming to fruition.
Hope your Halloween is Happy!
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