So, here’s me and my old (like really old) buddy, Sal, on the way back from Nebraska hauling a second-hand bulldozer to Michigan. Sal is driving. That’s a condition of his involvement—only he can drive his International Harvester truck. That leaves me with the task of navigating and keeping him awake during the long tedium of wheat fields waving.
“You know we’re down to half a tank of gas,” I thoughtfully remind him. “We might as well top her off at that gas station coming up.”
“It’s not a Shell station,” he replies.
What can I say? It’s his truck.
Half-hour later, I notice Sal starting to fidget and wiggle behind the wheel. Maybe it’s the caffeine I’ve been pouring down him for the last 150 miles. Or maybe it’s the coffee trying to get out. Once again, I suggest a stop—this time for emptying rather than filling.
“Naw, that’s all right. An aching bladder keeps me awake. That and your constant jabbering.”
I start in explaining my plans for the dozer. The road commission is going to run a freeway near my farm. So, with this dozer, I’ll scrape the topsoil from my back-40 bottom land and sell it to a nursery. Then I’ll get money from the road guys to dump their fill dirt on my land. Then I can sell it to a developer for condominiums. Slick, ha?”
“Big plans. Lots of money.”
“Well…yeah.” I glance at the fuel gauge—a quarter tank to empty.
Shouldn’t we be stopping for gas soon?”
“I know my truck. Don’t worry.”
Later. “C’mon, Sal, we’ve been riding on empty for the last five or ten miles. Why are you doing this? We just passed a perfectly good gas station.”
“To keep me awake.”
Finally, the truck wheezes, stutters and dies. I’m mad. “Damn, Sal. Now look. We’re stuck without a farm house in sight and nothing but a long road sloping down to the horizon.”
“The operative word, here, is down. If the road slopes, let’s put the truck in neutral and see what we find.”
So, we slowly trundle down the long, curving road until it rounds into a small town with a Shell gas station on the corner.
Sal is grinning so hard I’m afraid he can’t see the road.
“Now, what did that prove?” I scold over hamburgers and pie.
“That just enough is enough.”
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. Read more at https://freefloatingstories.wordpress.com/