The GTO started sputtering when Jack was ten miles out from Bakersfield. At five miles, it died. After he pushed it to the side of the road he lit a cigarette and looked around. Up ahead he saw an old Vanagon. Curious, he grabbed his empty gas can and a short rubber hose, and started hiking.
No cars. Figures. Not that he’d want to deal with anyone right now. Probably for the best.
He checked the Vanagon doors. Locked. He pulled out his trusty sparkplug and shattered the driver’s side window- and quickly tried to force the stench of beer and sweat out of his nose. Great, some homeless guy’s shelter, he thought. He looked around, no keys, so he stripped the steering column and hotwired it. The Vanagon refused to turn over. Jack coughed a laugh—the idiot seized the engine. But, the battery worked and it looked like he had a decent amount of gas. He decided he’ll top off the gallon and bring the car back and finish tapping this thing.
Jack hates sucking out gas. He’s good at it, but the fumes take forever to leave your mouth. Not the best time to light up a cigarette either- seeing his buddy Toby lose his face is a lesson you never forget.
He filled up the can and then rifled quickly though the Van for anything else. Nothing worth taking. That was that, he headed back to his ride.
After going back and getting the GTO, he emptied the Van’s tank and took off towards Bakersfield. Not one living soul drove by.
The taste in Jack’s mouth was really bothering him, spitting didn’t help. As he drove up he saw an old truckstop diner. No one will bother him there, and maybe he can wash up, too. He pulled in and quickly strode inside catching a quick glimpse of who was in there- two old truckers, some dirty kid and a strung out stripper on the counter phone, and the cook in the back washing some dishes.
Oh good, some shower stalls that take two dollars to open. No point in trying to outsmart this. He reluctantly paid and took a fast shower. He shaved quickly, leaving a Van Dyke.
Ten minutes later the scene hadn’t changed. He walked to the back booth and a skinny waitress he hadn’t seen before stumbled up with a pot. Her fake eyelashes looked like spiders resting on her cheeks.
“Coffee?” She yawned.
“Yes, ma’am.” Jack replied.
“You from Texas?” She smiled.
“Louisiana. Baton Rouge.”
Just then the greasy young kid looked back at him. He looked straight back- to which the kid turned away.
“Long way from home. Get you anything to eat, sugah?”
“I could go for a burger and fries.”
“Comin’ right up.”
Jack pulled out his beaten copy of Louis L’amour’s Shalako. It passed the time and provides good cover. The waitress came back with his order.
“Here you go, doll.” She looked at the book, “Hey, I’ve seen that movie.”
“Yeah, it’s a good one.”
“Can I get you anything else.”
“Actually,” Jack pulled out a letter, “Can you tell me how to get to Sutton Street?”
The stripper, turned around and eyed him.
“Jack?” She asked.
Jack looked up and his heart jumped out of his chest. “April?”
Before he could get up, April had knocked over the waitress and came after him with a steak knife.