Drifting (flash fiction)

The lines on the highway get blurry when you’re driving for so long. Pete was used to this; he’d stop at whatever town seemed appealing to him. He usually picked where he stopped based on the name of the town. He didn’t know much about these small hamlets throughout the states, nor did he want to. Usually, the smaller and quieter the town, the better for Pete.

He was in East Tennessee tonight, a little after midnight. He had just passed Knoxville and was heading west, the road dark, scattered with sleep-deprived truckers on an early Tuesday morning. He saw a sign for a town called Cedar Grove, and he liked the way that sounded. He liked the word “Cedar,” it rolled off his tongue, and he said it aloud in between whistling to the outlaw country tune on the radio.

Pete pulled off onto the exit and cruised around the quiet town, past the fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Sonic. It was a cool night; he loved weather like that; it meant people might be out walking around. Pete usually operated by stopping the nearest person and asking for directions, acting like he was a lost visitor, which he usually was.

He spotted the victim sitting outside the gas station. About a twenty-something man wearing a hoodie and smoking a cigarette.

“Hey, excuse me,” Pete said.

Pete stepped out of his car and smiled. “You know where the nearest cheap hotel is? I’ve been driving all night.”

“I’m Billy,” the man said eagerly. “And yeah, just down the road there. It’s a Motel Six.” Billy seemed friendly; Pete liked that.

“Thanks, Billy.” He was cute, Pete thought. Lean frame, pearly white teeth; delicious. “Say, I could use a drink, too. How ‘bout the nearest bar?”

Billy came a little closer in the deserted parking lot. “I’ll tell you if you buy me one,” he smirked.

Billy and Pete soon jumped back on the road but didn’t head to a bar. Pete wasn’t dumb; he knew what male prostitutes looked and sounded like. Instead, they headed out to a secluded spot on the edge of town, under a crescent moon and the clear night sky. The only sounds were the crickets and harsh love-making.

When Pete was done, he left Billy in the field, but he took his eyeballs and hands as souvenirs. That was his calling card. Then, he hopped back on the highway but decided to head north. He figured he’d drive out of Tennessee and go toward Kentucky. He heard many nice things about Kentucky and had never been up that way. Next up was probably a truck stop and rest area; those guys were always eager and willing to get with anybody.

Even a drifter like him.

The End


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