The Hitchhiker
I drove along the deserted, shadowed road, straining my eyes to see through the dense pouring rain.
"Katie, keep your eyes open. A second pair of eyes could help me a lot." I told my best friend, who was sitting in the passenger seat.
"Alrighty." She said, cocking her head up. We stared through the continuous pouring rain, watching it bounce off the headlights of my car as we drove. Suddenly, out of the darkness, there was a gruff man standing on the shoulder of the road with his thumb up in the air.
"Oh, poor, old man. Maybe we should give him a ride for a little bit." I suggested.
"Yeah, I feel bad for him." Katie answered. I pulled over to the side and watched as the man carefully limped over to the back door. He opened it and slid in along with a torn, brown knapsack.
He was scrawny-looking with dark circles around his eyes and bags hanging below them. His hair was matted down with an old Ford hat and a shaggy beard covered his dry face. His deep blue eyes were sad and dismal as if you could see his whole life playing back through his eyes. His plaid shirt and ripped jeans were torn and worn out, probably from walking. I glanced at his fingers as he adjusted his hat and saw they were bitten down so low that blood oozed from inside the nail. I cringed at the thought of my nails being like that and I glanced down at my own to make sure they weren't.
"So where you headed?" Katie asked the old man. He looked over at her, giving her a stale look as if he could not speak.
"Just up the road a ways, I don't care where I go." He said in a dusty voice. Katie nodded, giving him the same cold stare as if trying to calculate his history by his appearance. Finally, she turned around and faced the front, staring out of the window to keep her mind off the queer, old man in the backseat. I put a part of my blonde bangs behind my ear, nervously glancing back at the old man from out of the corner of my eye.
" from around here?" I asked, looking through the rear view mirror at him. He looked at me, then down at the floor of the car.
"No.I lived five miles off of Shady Creek." He answered.
"Don't hate me for asking, but what do you mean by lived?" Katie asked, twiddling her fingers nervously on her lap. He glared at her for a minute, probably disgusted at her question, then finally answered.
"I mean, I'm homeless. I did something I ran away from it." He said, a twitchy smile slipping on his face. My heart skipped a beat. Did something bad? That couldn't be a good thing. I sat there and watched him for a minute as he picked at his fingernail. Then he picked up his knapsack and opened it slightly so Katie or I couldn't see inside. But I saw a bright gleam shine from that bag, like something shiny that reflected off of the light in the car. Was that a knife? No, my mind was playing games with me. I had to calm down.
"Is this far enough for you?" I asked abruptly, starting to get worried.
"No, I need to go a little further." He smiled suspiciously. A lump formed in my throat. I nodded slowly and continued to drive. We sat there in silence for a couple minutes, letting our minds run away with us. Katie leaned over to me to whisper in my ear.
"Leslie, I think it's time we drop this guy off. He's creeping me out." She whispered worriedly. I nodded and glanced back at the old man. He was glaring at me and rubbing something in his knapsack. I decided to find out what this guy was about.
"What exactly did you do that was so bad?" I asked as my palms started to sweat. He smiled at me and then Katie for a moment, letting his blue eyes gleam.
"You really wanna know?" He smiled.
"I guess."I answered. He dug through his knapsack, all the while smiling at us. Katie and I watched nervously. I pulled the car over and turned around facing the old man.
"Out!" I shouted. He stared at me, confused. There was another man standing outside, but I didn't see him. He had his thumb up in the air, watching us.
"But I was just going to show you the badge I got for the worst Halloween costume last year." He said as he pulled out a Shady Creek badge. I gasped, suddenly feeling foolish. He set the badge back into his sack and got out of the car. He walked off, still glancing behind us, wondering why we had snapped on him. I put my hand on my head and sighed deeply. Suddenly, there was a knock on the window. Katie and I turned and saw a young man staring back at us. Katie rolled the window down and we studied him. He looked normal with jet black hair and wore tan khakis with a striped shirt.
"Hey, I was wondering if I could get a ride." He asked, smiling. His brown eyes had me hypnotized.
"Sure." I managed to sigh. He slid into the backseat and happily sat there, staring out the window as I pulled back onto the road. I drove, smiling and happy that we had someone normal in my car. Suddenly, I heard a cocking sound and there was a cold, metal object against my head.
"Drive where I want you to drive, or I'll shoot you." The man demanded in a low, grisly voice. I gulped. Katie watched me in fright. I guess you can't judge a person by their appearance.