My truck was the only car in the parking lot. The starlight downplayed the fact that the truck was seven different colors. I actually don’t know which was the original—Javier at the Jalopy Graveyard, Howard’s own pick-a-part auto shop, pieced it together from multiple different wrecks. He claims it’s a Toyota Tacoma, but I don’t know how you’d know. It was the closest thing to a homemade car I’d ever seen, and getting it a consistent paint job had not yet climbed to the top of my list of financial priorities.
The truck opened the old-fashioned way, key in the lock. I started the engine and gave the truck and my hands, wrapped around the coffee, both a minute to warm up. This high up, nights are cold in any season. I wondered how far into The Last of the Mohicans Evil had gotten (it was true that it wasn’t my favorite movie, but it wasn’t bad, especially the jumping-through-the-waterfall scene) and was just about to put the truck into gear when something slammed against the driver’s side window.
I spilled the coffee on my leg. “Sheesh!” I shouted, but I had the presence of mind to look out the window before grabbing under the seat.
It was the crazy bum. He leaned against the window and hammered on it with one fist, and he was shouting. “Jackson!” he yelled. “You’re Jackson!”
Not worth going for the gun, I decided. My heart was pounding and I realized that I was shaking like a leaf, but I kept my head, put the truck into first, and started driving away.
The bum threw himself onto my hood. He dug his fingers under the lip of the hood where the windshield wipers are and yelled again. “The trailer! I went to the wrong one!”
I could have just gunned and driven home. Somewhere along the way, the crazy old guy would have fallen off, for sure. It probably would have killed him, though, and I didn’t want that on my record or my conscience. I jammed the truck back into neutral and pulled up the hand brake.
Then, for his sake, I went for the gun.