Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Hitchiker, Part Un

The Hitchhiker, Part 1
(Part of the “Road to Snapplopolis” series)

Creative Commons License
This work by Jonty Kershaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States Licen

    “I may have the Schroedinger’s Clap,” The girl behind the counter announced.
    Joshua leaned on his mop and blinked like an iguana.
    “Then again, I may not.”
    She was squatting on the floor, picking up sunglasses and putting them back in the display she had knocked over. Now that Joshua could take a good look at her, he saw that she was one of those almost beautiful girls. One of those girls who looks attractive at first glance, but who upon closer inspection is a little off in any particular feature you choose to look at.
    “That’s the funny thing about the Schroedinger’s Clap. You never know until you open the box. That was a joke.”
    The girl had been chatting furiously with Joshua since he had surprised her in the tiny convenience store attached to the gas station a few minutes earlier. She had been so caught off guard by his quiet entrance that she had knocked the revolving display of sunglasses all over the place. Joshua had almost apologized to her, even though the store had closed an hour ago and he was supposed to be there mopping the floor.
    “I suppose you’re wondering what I’m doing here.” He had been wondering that for a while, but he couldn’t figure out how to get a word in edgeways. “Well, I’m on my way  to Snapplopolis and I ran out of gas money, so I figured, “Gas station. They have gas and money, right in the same building.” And so here I am.” She spread her arms and smiled warmly.
    “And so you just broke in.” These were the first words he had spoken to her. He had a look of years of neglect about him. He was built like a silverback gorilla, all shoulders and forehead, and his lank hair fell across his face as though it was used to hanging there. If she’d had any sense, she would have been afraid of him, but something about his quiet voice and the way he hunched over his mop made her see him as a giant teddy bear.
    She ignored his question. “Have you ever been to a Snapplopolis before? I missed last year, and I heard it was awesome. Utensil and The Shining Gigolo Matriarchs got up on stage together and did a cover of Van Halen’s “You’ve Got It In Your Pants”. And I’m damned if I’m going to miss it again this year just because of my job in the prison library.”
    Joshua wasn’t a traveler in any sense of the word, but he was familiar with Snapplopolis. A massive Woodstock-like gathering of tripped-out college students, musicians, fire-eaters and acrobats. Three days of pure bliss or hell, depending on your inclinations and sobriety. Sponsored by one of the largest drink manufacturers in the world. He glanced over to the fridge stocked with Plopolis brand Apple Watermelon Cooler.
    The girl stepped toward him. “My name’s Marla. You could come with me, if you like. I’m not just asking because you caught me breaking into this store. I like you. You’re cute, kind-of. You could take a few days off, forget to tell your boss about me. I think it would be a good experience for you.” Marla brushed the hair back from his pale face, and for a brief moment her fingernail touched his forehead. For him, it was instant love. He didn’t even bother to tell her that he owned the gas station.

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