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Highway 83

by Mike Burnett 9 months ago in fiction
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The road to nowhere

Highway 83

     They call it the road to nowhere, stretching from Canada all the way down to Brownsville, Texas. I have been on every inch of that road, border to border, north and south. Though it may sound boring, I have found my fair share of excitement. Filled my memories with tales and scenes of the human drama, both comedy and tragedy and sometimes no way to separate the two.

     Once upon the road, on my way back from Laredo, I picked up a hitch-hiker. An odd occurrence these days, everyone's paranoia about psycho hitchers has really cut down on those poor souls just trying to thumb a ride. Fortunately for me, this roadside wanderer was trying his luck this day.

     It was early evening on a barren stretch. I pulled to the shoulder and saw that he was a Mexican kid. Early twenties but worn looking, like life so far had not been kind to him. Little did he know, but relief was coming soon. He had an overstuffed backpack, I suggested the trunk but he was insistent on putting it in the back seat.

     He had a nervous, twitchy demeanor about him, he introduced himself as Raul and I told my usual lie. We settled in and I asked him where he was headed. He just smiled and stuttered "n-n-norte", good enough for me. I eased down in the seat and let the miles fly by as the telephone poles blur and the sun sets on the Texas plains.

     I watch my high-strung companion out of the corner of my eye and notice him eyeing the mirrors, looking back at the road and at his pack. Its like he is trying to look everywhere at once. Why so nervous? Just then I catch a glimpse of something through the blue light of the dash, he has a leather case on his belt just the right size to hold a large folding knife, however it is open and empty. The silver button on the case winks at me, and I wink back.

     It all crystalizes instantly for me. Ole' Twitchy here is planning on robbing me. That explains it all, the flop sweat, the jitters, everything. I kind of feel sorry for this pathetic soul, well maybe not sorry but the sense of irony is not lost on me. I decide to make things a little easier for him.

     I spot an old dirt road up ahead and I abruptly break the silence. "Hey!" I say with enough force to make Twitchy jump in his seat. "I gotta take a leak!" I say. "There's a road up here, I'm gonna drive down a ways and do my business." "Si, si!" he says. "I piece too!" I drive down the dirt road about half a mile to the middle of nowhere. I get out and go around to the back of the car. He gets out on his side out of my view. I unzip and its off to the races.

     As soon as you can hear the trickling sound from my stream Twitch makes his move from behind. He jostles for a second but gets a hand on my forehead and puts the knife to my throat. It's strange and kind of exciting to be on this end for a change, but the tables have already turned. I calmly put my half-a-chub back in my pants, but the steady trickling sound can still be heard. It was over before it began.

     What my hitch-hiking little hombre didn't notice was that when he stumbled a bit getting his hand around my head, was when I severed his axillary artery. He didn't even notice the blade cut into him. A while back I got this filleting knife off this Alaskan salmon fisherman. See, they keep those blades thin and razor sharp to aid in processing their catch. When I cut underneath Raul's arm, it cut so clean and quick that the nerves were severed immediately. Between that and his adrenaline, he barely felt a thing. Before he had a chance to say a word, his breathing slowed and the hand on my head turned cold. The trickle slowed to a steady drip. Raul dropped into a puddle of blood and piss. His body jerked and spasmed a few times witch made me laugh out loud. He earned his nickname in both life and death. Twitchy.

     I opened up the trunk and heaved the corpse inside with a thud. I look back and see the blood all over the road, but mixed with Texas dirt, you cant tell blood from piss, whiskey, or transmission fluid. I'm not worried though, nightfall is coming soon and I'll be long gone.

     I pull back out onto the highway and ponder my options. Up ahead about 50 miles is an abandoned farmstead with a dry water well. I could put Twitchy there and he would never be found. I reach back and grab his pack to look inside. Bundles of weed and a few smaller packages of cocaine, all worth a lot more money than Raul looked good for. Twitchy the mule. Its got a ring to it. Seems my amigo made a habit of double crossing the wrong people, a very unhealthy habit at that. Oh well, he should have been glad that his luck ran out with me. The Narcos would have taken their time with him to say the least.

     It's getting dark as I pull off the highway, onto the road to the farm house. I drive around back to the well, covered by old plywood, easily removed and replaced.

     The deed is done. I pull back out onto 83 and drive. I feel the vibration of the road, like the lullaby of a mothers heartbeat to her child in the womb.I think I'll stop up ahead, maybe in Junction, and get a room for the night. I've earned a rest.

    

fiction

About the author

Mike Burnett

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