It is the story of a young man who is not liking where his life ahs taken him. Living in Saginaw, Michigan he works in a transmission factory for his wealthy best freind. This excerpt has our protagonist, Simon, robbing a liquor store and hitch hiking to Pittsburgh to be with his girlfriend. He has plans of heading to New York and making it big as a musician.
On Wednesday morning Simon was having trouble sleeping. He went for a walk. At three in the morning the roads of Saginaw were quiet. Dead. The streets rolled up and it seemed everyone was asleep. He turned onto State Street. A car drove by and Simon turned up his collar to the cold and the damp. His shoulders were raised up to his ears in an attempt to stay warm. He did not really know why he was out walking at such an hour, but he was. He thought he should turn around and go home but something kept pushing him to walk. He passed shop displays and store windows with “help wanted” signs leaning in them. In the distance he saw a light coming onto the street. It was the liquor store that he had gone in a few times as an under aged teenager trying to get alcohol. Every once in a while the attendant would give it to him but sometimes he would refuse.
“Simon,” the man behind the counter would say, “When you are old enough I will buy you a drink, but not a day sooner.”
He stood outside the liquor store, the neon lights that split through the cold night air gave off an electric hum the disturbed the silence of the cold wet street. The buzzing went into Simon's head that gnawed at his brain. He opened the door and entered the store. The man behind the counter looked up from a paper back novel, he turned the volume knob down on a radio that rested on a wooden stool next to the cash register. It was not the usual man in the store. Simon felt relieved that it was not Jeff; he still walked around the store to get his nerves up. Simon walked to the back of the store. He made it look like he was looking for something, he picked up a bottle while still looking at the front of the store. He glanced down at it and saw that it was a bottle of vodka. The clear liquid quietly splashed in the clear bottle. Quickly, he put it down and rushed up to the front counter.
With his hand in his coat pocket he held it up past the counter top to resemble a gun. “open your cash and give me your money!” He shouted.
The man almost fell off his chair as he stood up. “What?” he was discombobulated by the shock of being disturbed.
“Give me your money jerk, or I'll shoot!” He felt like he was in a stupid movie written by a desperate script writer from Tulsa. Simon did not want to hurt anybody, hell he did not even want to rob the store but here he was robbing a liquor store.
To his amazement he heard the cash draw open and there was a bunch of money on the counter. “Take it and get out before I call the cops.” The man behind the counter said. Simon wondered if he had read the same stupid script.
He reached out with his free hand and put the money into his pocket. He backed out of the store and ran down the street towards his house. He ran past dark sleeping houses and quiet cars parked for the night. Simon thought running at this hour was more suspicious than walking. This hour there must be a curfew but there were no cars on the road. He turned the corner and started running again. His house was close and as he ran up the walk, lights of a car turned onto the street. With the door closed behind him he peeked through the curtain onto the road. The car drove by and slowed down to go around the bend and went into the dark of the night. Simon sank down on to the floor and sighed holding his head in his hands.
”I've gotta get out of here.” He said to himself. Standing up and turning to walk up the stairs he decided to go visit his girlfriend and from there he would see where the world takes him. |He packed up some clothes in a small duffel bag, strapped his guitar to his back and headed out to the main road once again.
At this hour he figured there would not be many drivers on the road heading south so he just started walking. The quiet was refreshing to his ears. Normally, during the day he had the drone of all the machines running in his ears. It took several hours of resting to get the ringing out of his ears. Watching the evening news with Walter Cronkite drowned out the pitch until it faded away completely. But early in the morning he was thankful that the ringing wasn't an issue. He turned his collar up to the cold and damp when his eyes were flashed by the lights of on coming traffic. Trucks coming up to the factories to get the parts to take them back down to Flint and Detroit. That would be his best bet for a ride all the way down. From there he would have to be patient to get a ride to Pittsburgh and to Kathy.
A truck soon stopped and and Simon climbed in. “Where you headed?” The man behind the wheel asked.
“Down to Pittsburgh.” Simon answered as he turned around to put his guitar and duffel bag in the compartment behind the seats. “But for now I'll take anywhere south of here.”
“I'm heading to Detroit. The GM factory there. We'll be there by mid morning so you just sit back and relax and let Ole' Stanley do the drivin'”. The driver said. He was in his forties, Simon thought. He wore a baseball cap, a flannel shirt and permanent stubble on his chin. Simon enjoyed the silence that followed. Then after twenty minutes he fell asleep.
The blaring noise of the truck woke Simon up with a start. Stanley was yelling obscenities at the construction and traffic that was ahead of him. “I knew it was coming but I didn't know there would be so many idiots on the highway.” He grabbed his CB and contacted truckers up ahead. He asked them how long the traffic was stuck for and if the alternates were any better. “Morning Sunshine. Sleep well?” He asked.
“Yeah, guess I did.” Simon answered. “Where are we?”
“We're just outside Flint. Do you know Flint, Kid?” Stanley asked.
“Well, we are just about near Springfield. If we can get past the construction. These early morning workers are a pain. If they weren't on the road I could sail through this.” He grumbled.
“Aren't you an early morning worker?” Simon asked.
“Yeah, kid your right. But I'm bigger than they are.” Having said that he pulled on the cord that let out a loud honk.
Simon and Stanley made there way through the traffic and the streets of Detroit towards Warren where the transmissions were needed at the General Motors plant on Mound Street. Simon thought that he should get off earlier so that he could get someone heading further south to Toledo or somewhere but Stanley said he might find someone, another trucker, heading down that way. He called ahead and sure enough there was a trucker taking a bunch of new cars to a sales floor in Toledo.
Simon thought that getting to see Kathy would be quicker than expected. At the plant Simon waited outside the gates for the other hauler to come out. It turned four o'clock and he still waited. He needed to eat and go to the toilet but was afraid of missing his ride to Toledo. He was also getting stiff and cold waiting around. Simon decided to walk down Mound Street towards Detroit. Hitching as he went. He passed Eight Mile east and then Seven Mile east he knew he must be heading in the right direction but night was coming in and it did not look like the type of area that you wanted to be out after dark in. At Davidson he saw signs posted of highway 75 so he followed until he reached the highway that would be a more direct route to Toledo.
He got picked up a group of young men about his age and they put his bag and guitar in the trunk and headed to the Lincoln Park area in the south side of Detroit. As he got out and thanked them for the ride they sped off with his guitar and bag still in the back of the car. Simon could hear the laughter of the boys as they drove off. Simon chased after them but the car was just too fast for his feet. “This might take longer than I thought.” Simon said to himself. He still had the money in his pocket and so he started walking again. He followed a road that led him to a youth center. He felt he might be too old for it but thought that it would be a good place to stay for the night or they might be able to direct him to a cheap place. He was in luck, the superintendent of the center was at the front door cleaning up for the night.
“Excuse me, Sir? Is there a place available in the centre for the night? I have been coming all the way from Saginaw and I am getting tired.” Simon said.
“Why sure there is, son.” The large black man said. He was greying around the temples and wore glasses that slipped on his nose. “ We always welcome people here. It don't matter if youse black or white, yeller or even green from Mars, if there is a bed then youse can stay.”
Simon gave a small laugh at the accent he wasn't used to it but the man seemed friendly enough.
“Can you pay or do you need to do chores around to help out out.” The man said as he walked behind the counter and switched on a light.
“Um,” Simon stuttered. “I think I will need to do some chores. I had my bag and guitar stolen from me so I don't have much left on me.”
“I thought youse were travellin' light for a hitcher. I was expectin' at least a duffel bag. Sorry ta hear that son.”