Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by OfDeathandLove

The full moon illuminated the ribbon of highway that stretched over the small hills before him. The deafening silence was broken only by the soft crunch of his boots upon the asphalt and the sound of his gentle breaths. His fingers ached from carrying the worn guitar case in one hand, the cracked leather suitcase in the other for six miles.
A low rumble started in the distance. He stopped, tilting his head just slightly, making sure it was real and not just the noise of a weary and hopeful heart. As the noise grew louder, he slowly set down his suitcase and guitar case, turning around to the direction of the noise, and held his hand up in the age-old sign of a traveler - a hitchhiker's thumb.
Distant headlights shined on the scene. He squinted, unaccustomed to their brightness. The grey, beaten truck slowed down, the driver a woman who looked to be in her mid-forties. Stopping beside him, she rolled the passenger window down.
"Where ya headed?" She asked in a classic Southern drawl.
"As far west as you'll take me," he answered, avoiding her gaze, preferring instead to show her nothing but the rim of his wide-brimmed brown fedora.
The woman hesitated a moment, then leaned over to open the passenger door. "Stick yer stuff in the back, then git in. I'm only heading as far west as Raleigh, but I'll take ya that far."
He silently put the guitar case and the suitcase in the back of the truck, then got in beside her. He closed his eyes as the warmth from the heater washed over him, the first time he had felt warm since the sun went down.
After a moment of still silence, the woman broke it by asking, "So, what's yer name?"
He gave a brief pause, then answered, "Jonathan." The name sounded strange. He knew it was his, he knew it was the name his parents gave him before throwing him on the streets of New York City, but it sounded as foreign to him as if it were from Vietnam, not from his own mind. He hadn't used it in years. No one used their own name on the streets.
Not even Donte did.
Pushing all thought of Donte from his mind, Jonathan shifted his focus to the words coming from his temporary companion's mouth.
"Name's Reba. Reba Salisbury, not Reba McEntire. Love her music, though. That woman's got country soul that no one, no sirree, not even Taylor Swift can touch. Taylor Swift...that girl's got a head hotter than the core o' the sun. Ah, well, I reckon she pleases the young'uns well enough..."
Soothed by the wave of her words and the slow rocking of the road, Jonathan slowly drifted off to sleep.

* * *
The sun was just peering over the horizon, wondering if it was going to be a good day, knowing it'd have to come up either way, just as the old truck pulled into the capital city of North Caroline. Reba drove to a small plaza downtown and stopped to let him out.
"Now ya'll be careful. I don't wanna hafta testify in court 'cause I be the last one to see you alive."
Jonathan nodded silently, then watched as she drove away. Afterwards, he did a slow 360, taking in his surroundings.
A squat Starbucks sat next to a McDonalds that advertised its playground. Across the plaza was a thrift store he'd never heard of and a small gas station. The biggest store on the plaza was a Harmon's. They all circled a stone fountain of a mermaid pouring water from a vase. People were beginning to bustle about, trying to get some breakfast before they headed off to work. He smiled. This would be a great place.
Sitting on the edge of the fountain, he set down his hat face-up and pulled out his well-used guitar from its worn case. He held it gently, putting his left fingers on C. He then strummed softly, closing his eyes as the chord enveloped him. He played each string like a familiar friend, one by one, humming each of the notes and adjusting them until every string was precisely in tune. Once the each note sang beautifully as if it the guitar were new, he started strumming chords again, humming the melodies quietly. Then he started to sing.
His voice came off low and gravely, telling of love and life, of moments and minutes that pass by without being thoroughly enjoyed. He sang of loss and pain so deep, so sharp that the thought of it sent tears tumbling down his cheeks, a pain that the audience couldn't, and wouldn't, understand, no matter how long they swayed their bodies to the melody, independent of how many tears streamed down their own cheeks, despite how enraptured their souls were in the music that flowed around the plaza.
Eventually the crowd started thinning as they carried on with their own lives, heading for work, going to college, leaving the moment to only be left as a memory.
Jonathan stopped playing and picked up his hat. He counted his money: twenty-two dollars and fifteen cents. Pretty good for one performance. He started to put most of the money away in his suitcase, keeping three dollars for lunch.
"Hey!" A sharp voice called out. A dark haired, wiry boy no older than fifteen stepped up to him. Jonathan could smell the scent of hard work, lonely nights and days without a shower on the him. "What you doin' hustlin' on my turf? Git yer own space."
Jonathan suddenly burned with anger. "Who are you to tell me what to do? I could knock you down in an instant."
"Sure you could," the boy'd eyes twinkled, "if you owned one of these." He pulled out a black revolver and nonchalantly pointed it at Jonathan's chest. "Like I said, git off my turf."
Jonathan glanced around the abandoned plaza. Not a soul was left to linger. It looked as if the only thing he could do was obey the boy.
He leaned down and put the guitar in its case, then grabbed it and the suitcase and stood up, never taking his eyes off the boy's. He could feel the intensity of the pointed gun vibrate through the atmosphere, filling his ears and mind with white noise so loud it felt as if the gun had already gone off. One wrong move, and he was dead. He cautiously backed away from the fountain, being careful not to make any fast movements. Once he was about twenty-five yards away, the boy relaxed and lowered his gun.
As Jonathan turned and started heading for the McDonald's, he realized that there wasn't just determination int he boy's eyes. There had also been fear. Fear of becoming a murderer. Fear of living the rest of your life knowing that, because of you, someone else couldn't live theirs. It was a fear Jonathan knew well; he had gotten into many situations that ended with that fear.
Shuddering off past memories, he opened the door to the restaurant. The smell of burgers filled the air, making his mouth water and his stomach grumble. He hadn't eaten since yesterday afternoon. He ordered a small cheeseburger and fries off the dollar menu, sat down, and, despite trying to savor each bite, started scarfing them down.
His stomach somewhat satisfied and money in his pocket, he left the plaza and found a small, dark alley to settle in for the night.
This sleep was not as comforting as the one in the car. This one was full of nightmares, faces floating before his mind, calling out to him in desperation, screaming his name, sobbing in fear and pain. Eventually the face came to him, the one he knew would inevitably come. It cried and begged, wishing he'd come back, wishing he'd have followed him to where they could both be safe, a place that Jonathan knew he couldn't go to. Not now.
He awoke with his entire soul filled with longing, his face wet with tears, and his arms reaching out to a little one whom he would never see again in this lifetime.

© 2013 OfDeathandLove

My Review

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Kinda makes me sad to think my own story-telling abilities pale in comparison. :/

Aside from the few typos I found, I honestly thought it read like a published work. It had a similar feel to things I've read before that I've forgotten, older books and such. Finish it and you might have something a publisher would be interested in.

Posted 10 Years Ago


10 Years Ago

I'm hoping for it to be published, and you saying that it read like a published work is a great comp.. read more
great introduction. I love the imagery, the voice, the idea. I like how you gave a southern drawl and how the character kept having flashbacks. this is very interesting :)

Posted 10 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on April 22, 2013
Last Updated on April 22, 2013
Tags: Hitchhikers, death, pain, guitar, music, roads, singing, plaza