“Hold your arm like this.” Reuben held his right arm straight at his side, thumb pointing out. “We’ve gotta look hip, like we’ve done this a million times.”
It wasn’t long before an eighteen-wheeler pulled to the side of the road. “Let me get in first in case the driver’s a pervert,” Reuben said.
What have I gotten myself into? Fiona thought as she pulled herself into the cab.
He was a large man with a belly that competed for space with the steering wheel. Wisps of colorless hair poked from under a red cap that read, GUARDIAN TRUCKING. Bloodshot blue eyes peered out between layers of unshaven fat.
“Where you folks headin?”
“DC, man,” Reuben said.
“Ain’t goin’ that fur, but I’ll take youse ta Harrisburg. From there, ya wanna get on eighty-three south.”
“Works for us,” Reuben replied.
Fiona nudged Reuben, whispering, “I thought we were going down ninety-five.”
Reuben mouthed, It’s okay.
Turning to the driver, he said, “I’m Rube, and this is Fee. Have a smoke?” He passed his open pack of Marlboros to their chauffeur.
Rube? Fee? Where did that come from?
“They call me Bug,” the fat man said, taking a cigarette. “Suppose youse are headin’ to the demonstration.”
“Right on.” Reuben continued to play it cool.
“Me, I served in K’rea. Can’t say’s I like your long-haired polly-ticks, but this here’s still America. Got the right to free speech an’ all.”
Fiona worried Reuben would start a political argument with their driver, but he remained as neutral as someone with Reuben’s convictions could be.
“I do the east–west run ev’ry week. Gives me lotsa thinkin’ time. I consider m’self a highway philosopher. Here’s what I gotta say.” Bug paused as he downshifted.
“Back in my day, we was proud to serve our country. We was fightin’ fur freedom, fur democracy, all that malarky. T’day, I ain’t so sure what the fightin’s about. I don’t say that ta many folks, but seein’ as you’s headin’ ta Washington, I’m bein’ honest. I didn’t like them National Guards shootin’ innocent kids one bit.”
“That’s why we’re marching,” Reuben said, relieved at Bug’s support.
“We got a coupla hours ’fore Harrisburg. Lemme tell ya ’bout my family. Gits kinda lonesome drivin’ this rig. Open the glove box. Gotta scrapbook of the wife and kiddies.”
The change of subject allowed them all to relax. Bug was rough around the edges by Fiona’s standards but more intelligent than she’d given him credit for at the start of their trip. The three talked about family, friends, and travel. By the time they reached Harrisburg, Fiona was sorry to say good-bye.
“I’ll be thinkin’ a youse on Sat’day. Stay away from them Guardsmen, an’ I’ll look fur ya on TV.” Bug slapped Reuben on the back as they said good-bye.