Cletus’s truck stop just off exit 14 was lit up like a Christmas tree. Eighteen wheelers lined one side of the parking lot, backed into their spots with their lights off. Their owners more than likely were in one of three places: The cab of their trucks sleeping, in the showers, or enjoying the best biscuits and gravy in Southeast Missouri(or perhaps the world), at least that’s what the sign on the interstate had proclaimed. Jacob slid into one of the vinyl booths near the exit and a window. He wasn’t sure why he picked this particular spot, it was perhaps the result of a habit he had formed from years of doing so as a police officer and then later as a P.I.
Gayle, so her name tag stated, stood at the edge of the table with a pen and pad in hand, ready to take the order. Her heftiness was overshadowed by the fact that Jacob couldn’t take his eyes off of the woman’s slight mustache. “What can I get for you this morning, sir?” Her voice was deep and rattled with the wet sound of phlegm.
“How about a cup of coffee, and a menu?” Jacob glanced at his wristwatch and decided that he would eat. He didn’t usually eat this early but after recalling the events of the last couple days he couldn’t remember when he last ate.
“The menu is there on the table” she said pointing to the edge of the booth next to the wall.
“Just the coffee then,” Gayle turned her big ass to Jacob to make her retreat to the kitchen. “Excuse me, Gayle.”
Gayle didn’t turn her body, Jacob thought this might take to much effort on her part, she merely turned her head over her shoulder. “Yes?”
“If I could get a paper as well, the Post Dispatch if you have it, that would be great.”
“We don’t have any papers in here, but if you go through that door over there,” she pointed down a long hallway that held the bathrooms and several video games and slot machines and led into the convenience store part of the truck stop, “You’ll find a rack with all the newspapers and magazines. I’ll be right out with your coffee.”
As he paid the man behind the counter for the newspaper he couldn’t help but wonder how desperate the management had to be to hire Gayle. Granted it was the ass-crack of dawn and there probably wasn’t anyone coming here thinking they had stepped into a five star restaurant but a little character would go along way.
“Where you headed, mister?”
The man shot Jacob an puzzled glance. Cocked his head to the side, “Well how will you know when you get there?”
“Guess it will just feel right.”
“Well I wish you luck then. But if your headed north or south you aint going anywhere today.”
“Why is that?”
“Missouri Department of Transportation has closed 55 both directions until at least tomorrow. Ice has damaged a couple bridges and they can’t even get anyone here to repair ‘em until the ice melts a little.” Jacob turned his attention to all the trucks that littered the parking lot. There had to be at least a hundred of them.
After Jacob returned to his booth he sat there for what felt like an eternity. His mind flowed from Gayle’s laziness to Kelsey, to Andre. He couldn’t recall how exactly he had gotten to this particular point, and it often perplexed him how the mind actually worked. If it wanted you to think about something it had a way of navigating your thoughts down streets and back alley’s and eventually arriving where it wanted you.
Gayle finally arrived with the steaming cup of coffee in a giant beige mug, Jacob wondered if the cup had been purchased that way or if it was a result of stain from the millions of cups of coffee that it had held.
“I’ll try the small Cletus.”
“Would you like to add bacon or ham to that.” Jacob could not get over the lazy monotone that Gayle possessed, he hoped it was only the job and that she was in fact happy sometimes.
“No thank you, just the biscuits and gravy. I saw the sign on the-”
Gayle turned and left in mid-sentence. It didn’t surprise or bother Jacob, and his thoughts instantly returned to Andre. It seemed like it had been years, not two nights ago. He couldn’t help but not feel a combination of sadness and remorse for what he had done. Jacob knew that it he had done the right thing, it had in fact been Andre who had fired first which constituted self defense. Never mind the fact that Jacob had actually planned the whole thing and had expected Andre to fire on him once he gave him the fake name. And he chuckled at himself when he remembered the name that he had written on that little slip of paper.
He hadn’t even opened the paper when he caught a glimpse of him. He didn’t want to see him, or anyone for that matter. All he could do was hope that he wouldn’t notice him. Jacob’s heart sunk a when he saw that he was still holding that stack of flyers.
- New Man Part 4 Escape by Dawn (hughiegibson.wordpress.com)