The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 3
In a small town named Litchfield a state highway patrolman stopped Rich. He thought the adventure was coming to an end, but kept in mind that there was little chance of anyone knowing his plan at this early stage of the getaway.
The patrolman exited his car and walked toward Rich. “Relax and smile calmly,” he thought.
“How far am I from Avon Lake?” Rich said with all the curiosity of college freshman asking for directions to the student union.
“That’s a good twenty miles,” the patrolman said. “Is that where you’re going?”
“Yeah, I got to catch up with some friends of mine,” Rich said. “They started about two hours before I did.”
“They’re probably already there,” Rich said looking over the equipment on his bike and pretending to be indifferent of the patrolman’s presence.
“Where ya from?”
“Wooster,” Rich said. “We just moved there from near Lima.”
“That west of here?”
“Watch the traffic and be careful,” the patrolman said with a twinge of suspicion He walked back to the cruiser and drove away.
Of course, there was no intention of going to Avon Lake. That encounter bolstered Rich’s confidence. He peddled freely like a man who escaped from prison. Yet, there was deep feeling of guilt. He realized his life would have to be a well-orchestrated symphony of lies. “Only for a time,” he murmured. He knew that home may have offered one sort of confinement, but lies offer quite another; many ways more restrictive.
At a hardware store entering the outskirts of Cleveland he bought a spare inner tube and tire; surely there would be a need somewhere between here and Maine. By nightfall he was beyond the Cleveland area thanks to a ride from a GI on leave driving a '58 Ford wagon.
At an overpass near a busy intersection Rich stealthily pushed the bike up underneath it and curled up in his sleeping bag and went to sleep. Sirens and heavy trucks on the road over head kept me from sleeping well. Predawn traffic was light, but still made it near impossible to sleep. Frustrated, he broke camp and peddled on until the sun was bright and level to his eyes.
At a gas station he used the bath room to shave and wash.
It was now Sunday and traffic was light. Rich felt free and good. It was the best he had ever felt in his life. The highway went over a railroad and h ducked below the overpass to heat a can of beans and another can of sardines for breakfast. An inventory of the food items revealed a serious miscalculation; only two cans of sardines remained the soup and beans were consumed already. It was not likely to find a store open. Starvation was not a worry, just being hungry. He peddled into a small town with a grocery/gas station that was closed. Onward, he grew hungry. It was past noon. He planned not to eat until supper and save the last can of sardines for Monday breakfast.
If all went as planned, he should be beyond the border of Ohio by evening and well into Pennsylvania. He imagined little of what was behind me and focused on what lay ahead. That was now somewhat more foreseeable. There was now no interference from friends, relatives, or teachers. His decisions must be well thought out. There was now no safety net and frankly to this point he had not done well with rationing his food. His dad was unable to look beyond a payday weekend. He was paid every two weeks and on a non payday weekend he scrounged for change or pilfered from Rich’s stash for a couple of dollars to buy a few beers. His eyes cast only beyond the horizon for others and not himself or his family.
When five years old Rich’s family received a large insurance settlement from a car accident. His mom wanted to use it for a down payment on a house. His dad said it should be invested. He invested the money in a bar. Within two years mom, dad, Rich’s two teenage sisters and Rich were destitute and living in a one bedroom apartment above a neighborhood grocery. Life in that small apartment was only about nine months in length, but stands out predominately as if it were an entire lifetime. There was a certain indignity to this episode. Rich remembered his youngest sister was too embarrassed to allow her prom date to walk her to their apartment door.
Doubt and despair began to seep into Rich‘s thoughts. “Winter comes earlier in Maine. Will I find work? Will I find a place to live? Those were things for which little thought had been given. I must be conscientious and serious. The thoughts of a boy will not do, nor the thoughts of my father.”