The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 5
The Rotten Teeth and Baby Face Episode
“It’s Monday,“ was the first thing to come to Rich’s mind. Again, the morning birds woke Rich. He crawled from the tent and stumbled around in the twilight packing things and securing them on the bike.
Over a cup of tea from a small campfire he envisioned the morning at home and the school bus slowly stopping at his parents’ house, the driver will beep his horn, and wait. He will become impatient and drive on. His homeroom teacher, Mr. Carpenter, will hardly raise an eyebrow when discovering he is absent again. Some of the students will look curiously at each other and a moment later not even recognize the absence.
The tea was warm, sweet, and smoothed with powdered creamer. It was reminiscent of Melinda, his older sister by 10 years. She learned to drink it with cream while at nursing school and prepared it for Rich one day when she was home on break. He always thinks of her every time he has tea. “Go ahead, try it,” she said. “This is the way the English drink it.” He remembered her delight as he sipped it “This is good!” Rich smiled and sipped the tea and for a moment thought about crying.
Then his thoughts turned dark. For a moment he thought of Melinda and how she was unafraid of Dad. “Where did she get the courage I never had?” Rich thought. “She would understand more than anybody why I left. Someday I will knock on her door and she will be so proud of me. And we will sip tea again, just like old times.”
Rich buried the fire using an Army trenching shovel. He pushed out of the woods atop the loaded bike and onto the road. His legs felt strong and vigorous. His thoughts clear and his eyes keen to the beauty of the rolling wooded countryside. He stopped after a couple of hours of vigorous peddling beyond the Pennsylvania/New York state lines.
He ate the last can of sardines. He vowed it would be a long time before he ate sardines again. What was sumptuous two days ago seemed to make every effort to escape today.
While struggling to climb a hill a farmer driving a car pulling a single axle trailer half full of bushel baskets overflowing with various types of grapes gave Rich a ride to a grocery market near Jamestown. Rich helped the farmer unload the grapes at the market.
The farmer handed him a cluster.
“Try ‘em,” the farmer said. “They’re the best, the best in the world.”
Rich pulled several from the cluster and heaved them in his mouth. “Concord,” Rich said. “But the ones at home are just as good, maybe even better”
The farmer laughed. “Impossible, nobody has better tasting grapes than me; you just miss home.”
“No sir,” Rich smiled, “I don’t miss home, but there may some truth to what you are saying; I do miss the grapes.”
Rich thanked the farmer for the ride and peddled through Jamestown steering with one hand and eating the second best grapes in the world with the other.
East of Jamestown, New York a flat bed tuck with two men passed and stopped about a hundred yards in front of me. The man on the passenger’s side motioned with his arm to come along side. Rich coasted to a stop at his window.
“Where ya headin’? ask a man in his mid twenties with rotted teeth and a big smile.
“I hope to get up around Ashford by nightfall,” Rich said.
“Throw your bike and gear in the bed and hop up, we’ll take you to the turn-off,” the rotted teeth man said. The driver, a baby faced blond hair man motioned with his head and a big smile to the truck bed. Rich tossed the bike in the bed and climbed aboard.
“Hold on,” cautioned the driver gruffly. He chuckled and accelerated throwing a few stones.
Through the back window of the truck’s cab Rich glanced at the men and studied their movements. They talked among themselves, but he could not hear them. Rich grew suspicious and pondered what he thought about only a few days earlier; he had to make better decisions, he no longer could think like a boy.
The man with rotted teeth smiled at Rich as if hiding their conversation - or the decayed teeth. Rich formulated and schemed that if they came to a stop he might exit quickly and ride away. Rich watched their eyes dart like conniving grade-schoolers as they mumbled to each other. It wasn’t long before they came to the turn-off. They made the turn and Rich’s paranoia and suspicion grew. It escalated to fright as the truck accelerated. Suddenly the truck slowed and turned into a dirt road. The truck came to a skidding halt stop and the two men burst from the cab. One had a crow bar and the other a lug nut wrench. The smiles and light laughter displayed had when they picked him up had changed to scowls, grimaces, grunts, and groans.