Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Hitchhiker

I had just taken a field trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in my twelfth grade gifted education class. My mind still back there as I pumped gas on my way home—picturing the mound of dead Jews’ shoes or videos of medical experiments—a stranger approached me. He was a few years older, slim, dressed warm, and staring. “Can I help you?” I said.

“Could you drive me to the shelter?” the alcohol scent was pungent.

“Um, I’m on my way home for dinner.”

“It’s just down by Hoyts Theater.”

“That’s 15 minutes in the opposite direction that I’m headed.”

“Come on, man, I need somewhere to sleep, man.”

“Um, ok.”

I finished pumping and began driving. “'Precciate the ride. Got any money?”

I had never been beaten, robbed, or held at gunpoint, and I considered one or all may happen on behalf of my first hitchhiker. I knew I hadn’t a single bill in my wallet, but pretended to check just so he believed me. “Sorry, I’ve got nothing except some change,” I said, pointing to the middle compartment full of coins.

He took everything except the pennies, or about $10. “'Precciate it.”

He talked more nonsense, I nodded and made agreeable sounds. When I neared Hoyts Theater I said, “Where is the shelter exactly?”

“There’s a Shell station up here, just drop me off there.” I abided without inquiring whether the shelter was located in the malt liquor fridge at Shell.

Ten dollars poorer, thirty minutes late for dinner, and emotions ranging from terror to relief capping an already powerful day, at least I was one companion richer.

One week later Vodka/Benadryl and I visited Taco Bell after school. My jaw dropped upon sight of my new companion standing outside the restaurant.

“Hey, it’s you again, thanks for the ride. Got any money? Can you give me a ride to the shelter?”

I had plenty of cash this time. I thought back to the previous week, fusing this hitchhiker taking advantage of me and the Holocaust into one recollection. “Sorry, but we’re going to eat here, and I don’t have money. Later.”

Never again!


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