I started walking the direction the Interstate was in rather than the roach trap hotel. Not knowing when I would be told to leave or where I would be heading directed me away from sleeping rough. Had we not specifically been told to drop the truck off in a fleet yard giving them the keys I would have just found some kind of taxi to take me back to the truck. Nothing odd there. Truck drivers come and go at odd times. Most don’t want to leave a vehicle in a company yard. I could have called the company and had the shuttle come get me too.
Thats how he did it! Henry was talking with the guy who turned out to be the shuttle van driver for the trucking company. That’s how Henry found the roach trap. Henry was dressed even worse then and I can’t believe too many fleet drivers opt for a nice hotel when turning in a truck for some down time. Henry asked him to take us to the cheapest most run-down place around. The fleet probably had a “corporate rate” there as well.
I seem to remember Henry had asked for my company ID when he was paying for the room. I thought he was going to either pitch it or make something out of the plastic. Henry wasn’t just odd in life, he was odd like that as well. He would make little things out of discarded plastic or cardboard. Some of them he actually used in the various kitchens he ended up working in. Every master chef seemed to have their own little signature something or other.
After walking a good ten to fifteen minutes I heard footsteps moving quickly behind me from a distance. “I was right, you’re gay!” came Melony’s voice.
“Mike thinks you are. He thinks that whopper of a tip you left him was an invite to join you in the hotel.”
“Well, if he does, he does. Odds are I will never see him again so it’s just not worth straightening out.”
“You’re okay with him thinking you are gay? What are you? Bi?” queried Melony.
“Nope. Just not interested in the walk back or trying to explain. There are probably thousands of people who know nothing about me but saw me in passing somewhere and formed an opinion about me. If our lives are never going to intersect again, why should I care?” I asked slowing my pace a bit so she could catch up.
“It’s just that most guys . . .”
Turning to face her and walking backwards I said a bit tautly, “Most guys would care because they live somewhere and it would be someone where they live which would somehow dimple their manhood or reputation or some other intangible thing they value. That isn’t me. I don’t live here and will most likely never return.” I spun around and began walking forward at my previous pace.
“Where are you headed?”
“Right now, towards the Interstate. I saw better hotels near the off-ramp. If you mean in general, I already told you, I have no idea yet, my phone will tell me.”
“Well, it’s about a five mile walk to the hotels and you still need to go three blocks farther west to be on the road which takes you to them. We are only two blocks from my house” she offered. I shook my head in disbelief as I kept walking. “I still want to get in your will” her laughing voice said.
I stopped knowing that turning and walking towards the main street wouldn’t stop her from following. Her kids were at her mom’s tonight. I would end up paying for a double occupancy room and she would steal a look at my current ID. Oh yeah, the ID and wallet. Need some place to hide that so she doesn’t rummage through it. I had more cash in my coat, but the plastic could leave an inconvenient trail. She was the kind of girl who would go through it while I was asleep. I wonder if she would notice there were no pictures, health insurance card or any of the other stuff normally found in a guys wallet. Just an ID, some plastic and cash. In short, no signs of life.