Fake Grit

After walking all day he was dirty and tired and the sun beat fierce upon him. The fleas were bad just then — he’d have to find a Y in the next town and drown the fierce little bloodsuckers. He was hiking along route 202 hoping for a ride but the only car he saw all day hadn’t been any kind of a car at all but a beat-up Ford pickup truck driven by a surly farmer wearing a John Deere hat who rolled down the window and threw an empty beer can at him as the truck roared by. He stopped and watched the dust cloud drop over the horizon. Then he picked up the can, crushed it, and tucked it into his backpack. Five cents was five cents.

When night came it was total, no city lights on the horizon, no street lamps to break the gloom, and no moon either, so rather than risk breaking an ankle he rolled himself in his blanket and curled up in the long grasses by the side of the road. He’d have ticks in the morning but he’d had them before and he’d survive.