If you categorize a person's life: Baby, preschool, grade school, high school, young man/woman, middle age, old age, and cut it into slices, you could write about just one slice. This is a slice of the life of Roger Thomas.
What in hell is that up ahead? Christ, it looked like a woman staggering down the road towards me.
I eased up on the throttle of my eighteen wheeler and came to a stop opposite the woman. She came across the road and up to my door. "Can you give me a ride? The car I was in is in the ditch about a half mile up the road ahead of you."
I glanced at my watch and saw that it was two a.m. "I guess. Are you hurt? I can call for rescue if you would like. You look as if you are injured." I could see blood on her face, down the front of her and all over the sleeve of the sweater she had on. "You'd better report this to the police."
"No I'm not hurt, so don't call anyone. When we get to the car, maybe we can get my luggage and then you can drop me off in town." I climbed down from my rig, went around and helped her up into the cab. I will say I admired the view as her jeans tightened over her butt as she took the last step up and in.
You never know what you are going to find or see along the road. I had been a long-haul trucker for the last ten years, but I was on my last run. I thought about accepting a job as dispatcher with a trucking company located in Malone, NY, but I had other options I was considering. This, my last road run, was from the docks in Boston, MA. I had on a load of extruded steel. I had some to drop off in Brattleboro and Bennington, VT, and the remainder and final destination was in Albany, NY.
I had traveled through Wilmington, VT, and was just a couple of miles before grinding my way up Searsburg mountain. This was a shit route and I couldn't make any time over the hump. With the load I had on, it would take me an hour to climb to the top, then I had seven or eight miles of narrow winding road before hitting the downgrade into Bennington. It was going to be lowest gear up and lowest gear down, so this twenty miles from Wilmington to Bennington would take awhile.
I came up to the car. It was tipped into the ditch alright. One rear wheel was actually in the air so with no traction it was impossible to back it out. I stopped and looked at her vehicle. My heart jumped. Christ, there was a person in the driver's seat and not moving. "Who's that? You didn't say anything about someone else being with you. What's going on?"
"That is my drunk and passed out ex-husband. He is okay. I checked him over. You can look at him if you want while I get my suitcase. I only have one suitcase and one overnight bag."
I climbed down and went over to peer in at the driver. With my flashlight I could see that he was breathing okay and then I heard him snore. "Don't you think we should lay him down in the back seat? That seat belt must be cutting into him."
"If you want, but I don't care if it does hurt him." She said this as she was stripping off her bloody sweater. She threw it into the trunk and took her suitcase over to the rig.
I climbed down the bank on the other side of the car and opened both right side doors. The passenger seat in front had quite a bit of blood on it from the woman's nosebleed. I reached to the seat belt catch on the console and the man fell towards me and almost out of the car. I grabbed him and wrestled him out and around to the back door. He was as limp as a rag until I shouted, "Stand up if you want me to help you!" He stiffened momentarily and I tipped him onto the back seat. I had to bend his legs so I could close the door. Disgusted, I went back across the road and climbed into the cab of my truck. The woman was already in and waiting for me to start.
I had some blood from the woman's side of the car on my driving gloves and I peeled them off as I said, "I better hear your story before I get to the top of the mountain and it better be good or I'm setting you out."
"Fair enough. To start with I'm Erline Thomas. I was Erline Jones up until a week ago. My divorce became final and I took my maiden name back. I'm twenty-nine and live in Connecticut. That was Tom Jones, my ex, in the car. We have been up in Manchester, VT, where he was trying to convince me to remarry him. I said I would consider it if he could demonstrate he still loved me and wouldn't flirt with other women. He promised that he wouldn't act like he always does when he talked me into this trip.
"We have been up there for the last week. I went up to our room to lie down after dinner last evening. He didn't come up and I went looking for him. I found him in the lounge with some bimbo on his lap. His hands were up her skirt and his tongue was tickling her tonsils. I slapped him and then he chased me up to the room. We argued all the while I was packing and finally he agreed to drive me home. I know this isn't the shortest way home, but he took a wrong turn in Bennington and we ended up here on Route 9, heading east.
"He had a bottle and started swigging on it. In fact, before we reach the top of the mountain you can see where he finished it. He threw it out and it smashed in the road." The woman paused. "By the way, you haven't told me your name."
"Roger Thomas." I let it sit there.
"You got to be kidding. We have the same last name. Where are your people from? Maybe we are related."
"My family was originally from Canada. Yours?"
"Virginia, I think. I never bothered to find out much about them."
"So you're twenty-nine, divorced, pretty and riding through the countryside with a long-haul trucker who you know nothing about. Don't you think that is a little dangerous and what are you going to do now?"
"I have no idea. I've loved and hated Tom so much over the last year and now that I am free of him, I just feel like doing something crazy. My friends would say just being here with you is crazy. Do you have any suggestions?"
"Jesus, no. I don't do crazy women and especially ones I don't know. Say, you must be tired if you've been fighting with someone for the last few hours. Why don't you crawl back in the bunk there and snooze awhile? It's going to be a couple of hours before I get to a stop. What do you want for breakfast? We will get some when we get into Bennington. That's when I update my log and eat. You can decide then what you want to do."
"Okay, I'd appreciate the chance to get a little rest."
I stopped the rig just before I got into Bennington. The diner was going to be open in about a half hour so I just sat there listening to traffic on my CB. I picked up one call that said that the police would need an investigator for an accident just the other side of Searsburg. Blood had been found in a car that was off the road and there was a person passed out in the rear seat. There were no cuts on his body that would explain the blood.
"Erline, I may be questioned about anything I saw when I went by your car. I have just come over the road and the police will be looking for vehicles that might have seen your car. Do you want me to wait here or shall I move on to my destination and skip breakfast? I think your ex is going to have some serious explaining to do when he sobers up. How do you feel about that?"
"Let him handle it. I thought I was going to get killed with him drinking and driving. I'm just lucky I wasn't, so I'd like to see him being hassled."
"Okay, I'll move then. My drop off is on the other side of town, just off of Route 7. Maybe we will be close enough to a MacDonalds and can walk there for breakfast. Your Tom will be in some trouble if they find out he was the driver, anyway, as drunk as he is."
"Not my Tom anymore."
I was on my way by ten after off-loading my delivery. I had to backtrack through Bennington to hit the road to Albany. Erline was still with me. "You're getting further and further away from Connecticut, you know."
"I know, but if you don't care, I'm having a ball so I'll go as far as Albany with you."
This was okay by me. It wasn't often that I had anyone with me on the road. I wasn't supposed to have a passenger in the cab, but I said as long as Erline had the same name, I could say she was my wife. I had really looked her over when we did eat breakfast and I was wishing at the moment we were married.
I have never tried to hook up with any woman permanently. I know some truckers did, but it had to be hell on a lonely wife or woman waiting at home. This is why I was quitting now at thirty-one. I had lived conservatively and picked the best rides that were the most lucrative. That too was possible because I didn't care where in the country I ended up on any given weekend or holiday.
"So what do you do for fun?"
"Well, I like country music and I listen to where the country stars are appearing. About once a month I usually find myself somewhere near a concert or an appearance, so I take one in. If I have time I like to get up in the morning and go for a run. To me it has become an addiction and I have been doing it for years.
"You notice that I don't look like a lot of truck drivers. Many have a big gut and a big ass. I don't have a big frame and it wouldn't take much extra truck-stop food to make me balloon up. Another thing is I'm a closet gourmet. My sister operates a little family diner in Ogdensburg, and I make my home with her and her family when I'm not on the road. She lets me fool around in the kitchen when I am there."
"Don't you ever get lonely?"
"Sure I do. That's why I'm getting off the road. My sister worries about me all the time as I'm the only family she has except her husband and two kids."
"So do you ever come up with any great recipes?"
.... There is more of this story ...