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Publisher: Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom
Summary: September The Triumph TR3 was running sweet tonight; Danny Holman had been fiddling with it for a week straight, but he'd tinkered with it near nonstop for the eight months he'd owned it without any really definite results. But now he was doingwell, nearly sixtythrough the September night, all alone on I-80, a wire-wheeled golden bat out of hell. Danny saw a lighted truck stop about eighty miles into Illinois. He was... pretty sure he could get to Chicago on the gas he had, but the truck stop was the first place he'd seen open since dark. No sense getting caught short. Not after what it had taken to get this far. He pulled the TR3 onto a ramp with heavy weeds to either side. The station looked like it had been huge, once. There were at least a dozen pump islands out of service, lots of cracked concrete and dead light poles, and some hollow buildings. A big brick shell still had a dark motel sign. There were ten tables in the restaurant, and room for forty more. A big red-lettered sign by the counter said if you are under 21 do not ask for beer. we punish criminals.Who's we? he thought, but no one gave him a problem with his cheeseburger and berryade. There was another sign that read we have coffee, with have on a separate card. Below that it said price negotiable. A skeletal old man filled the Triumph's tank, then wiped the windshield and headlights. "Goin' home?" he said, with a look at the luggage in the little car's passenger seat. "No," Danny said, without thinking about it. "Well," the man said, "then it ain't too late to go home." "I s'pose so." Danny didn't want to start a string of lies with the guy, and he supposed that anything he said would have about the same effect. "If you need directions..." The old man nodded toward a cardboard box, between a rack of oil cans and the end pump. A card said the only map you need. The box was full of Gideon Bibles, black and green, probably from the motel. Danny'd seen the same box in Iowa, half a dozen different times and places. He paid the attendant and drove on. The road was empty. Every half hour or so he slowed down for a reflector barricade marking off a patch of crumbled pavement or collapsed embankment or a mass of burnt-out vehicles too big to remove. There was a little fingernail of moon, making foggy gray shadows on the concrete, but mostly the night was black on black, with a few lone stars on the horizon, barns or one-crossroad towns. A couple of the towns had signs, the old white-on-green reflective ones. He didn't turn off. Towns like that had shot at him in the county ambulance with the lights going. The odds wouldn't be any better now. Maybe, Danny thought, Illinois was different. Nope. It would be different where he was going. He flipped on the radio and started scanning with the knob. There was noise with long dead spots between, no change there. He got a ripple of piano music and an unintelligible voice, but it slipped away. Then rhythms came up clear, and a voice Danny knew: one of the WGN night people. Danny smiled. This was the sound that had kept him sane, in his room, with the earphones stuffed in tight and muffled with gauze so that no one else would hear. He could ride the beam all the way now. A record came on. The car hummed and Danny did too. None of you knows what to do You better move it 'cause I'm coming through Everybody's sayin' that the kid's insane I'm doin' ninety miles an hour In the breakdown lane As the road rose up to meet the car, Danny saw an edge of [read more]
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