Catching a Ride

by Michael Allegretto

Hitchhiking isn’t what it used to be.

Time was, you could stand beside the highway just outside a town with your thumb out and a scruffy suitcase or backpack at your feet and get a ride in less than half an hour.

Then people got all suspicious because of murders and rapes and whatnot.  They got very careful about who they picked up. Who could blame them? 

So if you wanted to get anywhere, you had to be creative.  The hippy look worked for while.  Buckskin jacket, long hair, but not dirty.  A flower child, non-violent and so on.  And if you were holding a sign, you were golden.  That was the magic part. You’d get a clean piece of cardboard and printLA” in big letters.  Better still was if you wrote a town in the same state.  Say, if you were hitching south from Denver to Santa Fe, or even Juarez, you’d print:C. Springs”.  I’m telling you, you’d get picked up before ten cars passed.

But now, forget it.

The only cars that will stop have light bars on their roofs.  And believe me, they will hassle the shit out of you.

What’s a traveler to do?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

What I did was, I went to a costume rental place in Denver and got a priest’s outfit: black coat, black shirt, black pants, white collar.  And one prop.  No, not a Bible.  An empty gas can.  Simple.  Direct.  Who’s not going to stop?

Sure, the guy is safe, they think.  Just look at that collar.  And of course he has to hitchhike, he ran out of gas.  Although, now that you mention it I didn’t see a car anywhere.

They pull over anyway and the good padre leans in the passenger window.  “Thank you for stopping, Miss.  I’ve been walking for miles, praying someone would help.  God bless you.”

Never fails.  You’re in.

Now you could show them the gun right then, but I prefer to wait.
Once we’re on the road, the first thing I do is check out the car.  Maybe there’s somebody sleeping in the backseat.  Or kids or a dog, you never know.

When I feel right, maybe after a few miles, I  say politely, “Could please pull over there?  Thank you so much.”

Once they stop, out comes the gun.

Then, as they say, the fun begins.

In ancient times, the ’80s and ’90s, Michael Allegretto published novels of mystery and suspense.  Older now, and with a diminished attention span, he writes short fiction.  The shorter the better.
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