The Hitchhiker

Several years ago Kenny stopped by my place in Bertram one evening. He had a lot to say, but I don’t remember him ever saying anything that enlightened me much that night. That happens sometimes when he has made a trip or two too many to the cooler in the back of his pickup. At least back at that point in time.

He was living on out the road from me about 5 or 6 miles. As the night wore on and I wore down I suggested that the best idea was for him was to come in and make the couch his bed for the night. We had been sitting out in his pickup, on his pickup or where ever felt best for that particular hour.

With my offer of a place to lay down rejected, he left for the midnight drive down the dark desolate road to his humble abode.

With Madeline and all the boys tucked comfortable in bed for what had been hours at that time, I carefully tip-toed through the house being sure not to turn on a light or slam a door. I eased into bed and laid there with the nights conversation churning in my head.

After a little while I could hear sirens from town. They came our way and continued on out the road. Since few cars ever traveled out that road late at night I knew what the possibilities were.

After a bit I got up, dressed and hit the road north. A mile or 2 short of Kenny’s place was his pickup setting up on top of the bridge railing at the North San Gabriel River where it goes under FM 1174. There were lots of flashing lights, road flares already set out. Kenny was fine, standing there talking to several of Burnet Counties finest.

As I moved in closer I heard him telling them how this horrible situation came about. He had drank too much at my house and realizing he had no business driving when he got to the end of my driveway had pulled over to sleep it off. Just then he heard a tap on his window and rolled it down. The fellow standing there had been stranded in town and needed to get about 7 miles out in the country. Coincidently that was very near to where Kenny lived. Kenny then told the officers that the guy didn’t seem to be impaired so as a benefit to them both a deal was struck to where Kenny would be driven home and then the fellow could easily make it on foot to his destination.

The only unfortunate thing about the arraignment was that the guy took his eyes off the road, the pickup first went up on the guardrail, clipping the domed top wooden posts off like they wee little tooth picks (there was creosote wood all up and down the highway) until it reached the concrete barrier wall and then continue until the friction ground the wild ride to a halt.

Kenny had even ask his driver to slowdown, to which the guy ignored him. Then after totaling Kenny’s pickup out, the guy jump out and started running down the river into the darkness.

The cops were standing their shaking heads at the whole story when Kenny blurted out the best line of the night.

“Why are y’all just standing here when you could be down that creek apprehending the guy that caused this whole mess. Can’t you call for a helicopter to help search for him”.

To this day the hitchhiker has never been caught nor has he turned himself in.

Kenny was telling some of us not long ago what made the story so believable. “I’d walk over to the edge of bridge every little bit and holler, John come back here, this man needs to talk to you”

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