The boy shivered. The rain was cold, and had already soaked through his sweater and the T-shirt underneath. He should have brought a raincoat, but he hadn't thought of it already.
A pair of headlights cut through the downpour. They temporarily blinded him, then passed as the car slowed to a stop. A deep male voice called, "Need a lift?"
The boy had been raised not to accept rides from strangers. He knew all about the creeps who put poison in Halloween candy and who kidnapped little kids from the side of the road. On the other hand, he didn't really have a home to go back to, so what did it matter if he got kidnapped?
"No, I'm fine," the boy said, and turned as if to continue his journey, as if he had a set destination in mind.
"You sure?" pushed the man. "You're a long way from town. It'll take you five miles to get to the nearest house. I could give you a lift."
That settled it. Although the boy was momentarily amazed to realize he'd walked at least five miles from home already, he doubted he could handle another five more. He ran to the car, pulled open the passenger-side door, and climbed in. The inside was nice, and dry, and for a moment, he hoped the man didn't mind that he soaked the interior.
He wanted to pull off his sweatshirt, but feared what the man would think when he saw his bald head.
"My name's Joe," the man said, offering his hand in a handshake as if the boy were an adult. "How about you?"
"Me too," the boy said.
"Your name is me too?"
The boy laughed at the weak joke. "No," he said after a second. "My name is Joe, too."
The man smiled, as if he could see the lie. "Must be fate, then, that the two Joes ride together. Where's home for you?"
"Don't have one."
"Ahh, looking to buy," the man guessed. The boy couldn't tell if he was joking or not. Although he considered himself quite mature for a ten-year-old, the boy doubted that Joe would really suspect him of wanting to buy a house.
"No," the boy said again.
"So, what's the problem?" Joe asked. "Where's your home? You've got to have someplace dry to spend the night."
"I ran away."