back of the bus. "Hey mister," Terry spoke the words, the script he practiced for an hour looking in a cracked mirror in the truck stop bathroom. "Can you do me a favor?"
The man in the couple, the one Terry addressed, stood hand in hand with a woman, his wife maybe, as the two of them stepped down from their rig. The truck had Ohio tags and an Ohio address, 1233 Elm Street, Lima, on the side of the door. Their trailer was an open car hauler, the old kind with shiny, greasy hydraulic cylinders pointing at all angles among the acid green skeleton of the frame. Thick black hydraulic lines patched with tape and shrink tubing draped haphazard over the frame like Spanish moss. The cargo: antique cars, all Fords, dating from the late teens to the early thirties--real classics--one of them a delivery van with a trick paint job. And none of them locked. Terry tried the doors when he first found the truck idling among a row of rumbling eighteen-wheelers and eyed the plush, diamond-tuck upholstery in the cars.
"Whaddaya need son?" The trucker's voice sounded like thunder. Terry flinched a little.
"Could I tie my dog up to your truck while I get something for us to eat?"
"Sure, pardner." Neither the woman or the man said a word about a little boy and his dog alone in the middle of a truck stop. "Ellie here'll help you get some grub."
"C'mon sweetie." Ellie looked like a refrigerator wearing a black wig with stubby arms and legs. Her smile was painted bigger than her mouth, but it was a real smile, genuine.
"Runnin' from somethin' honey?" Terry was startled, even though he knew it had to be pretty obvious. He shuffled, looking at his feet, thinking about running. Silent.
"Don't worry," she smiled through a handful of teeth. "We're all runnin' from sumthin' now an' nen."