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By the time she reached the main road she had quit looking behind her at every noise. It wouldn’t do any good if she did hear a pickup coming, there was nowhere to hide.
It was after midnight, and even though this was the main road, there was no traffic. If you traveled east, there was a small town. If you traveled west, there was another small town. No wonder there was no traffic. After waiting for several minutes, she started walking west, because that was the direction she wanted to go. She didn’t know how far she had walked when she finally heard a big rig rolling down the highway, heading in the same direction as her. She stuck out her thumb in the classic hitchhiker pose.
With a thump, a grinding noise and a long hiss, the truck came to a stop. The driver leaned across the seat and opened the passenger door. “What are you doing way out here, young lady? And so late at night?”
“I’m going to California, but I’ll take a ride as far in that direction as you can get me,” she said.
“How old are you?” he asked with a frown on his face. He looked like he was worried she was a runaway and he certainly didn’t want to get in trouble. And, indeed, she was a runaway, although of legal age.
“18,” she said.
“Well, I’m only going west as far as Lubbock and then I turn north. But I’ll be stopping overnight at a truck stop where you can get another lift.”
Thanking the driver, she handed up her small bag and climbed into the truck. She was still nervous, but she was also exhausted and extremely grateful for the lift. Now she knew she was safe from discovery even if he woke up and started looking for her.
As they rode towards Lubbock, the driver chatted and tried to draw her out, but she never told him the real reason she was hitching her way to California. He tried to convince her not to keep hitchhiking, but he didn’t manage to dissuade her. She wanted to get as far away as she could, as fast as she could. When he asked, she assured him she had family there, which she did, and that they knew she was coming, which they didn’t.
The driver really didn’t like the idea of a young woman hitchhiking in the dark, so he told her there was a hotel next to the truck stop where most of the drivers on overnighters stayed.
“Thank you, sir, but I can’t afford that,” she told him.
The driver told her, “No, I’ll pay for it and for breakfast in the morning. But I’ll be leaving at first light, so you’ll have to get up early and be ready to go.”
Thinking about the tales she had heard about truck drivers, and car drivers, demanding sex in return for the lift, she thanked him but declined his offer. Sex was the absolutely last thing she was willing to do to pay her way. He must have figured out from the look on her face, and the way she was practically leaning on her door, what she was thinking, because he assured her there were no strings attached.
By the time they reached the truck stop, her nerves had settled and all her energy had fled. She thought about how nice it would be to sleep in a bed tonight and start out again tomorrow.
TO BE CONTINUED . . . . . .in Part Three