Click. That was the sound of a gun’s safety switched off. I opened my eyes. Two people, a man and a woman, neither looked pleased. But that could have been the regulation glocks they leveled through my driver side window.
I blinked quickly, sleep half sticking my eyelids together, and put my hands up slowly. “Hello.”
The woman was older than the man, maybe in her fifties with deep lines fanning from dark eyes. Some of those lines could have been scars, most people get those before they have a chance to get wrinkles now. The man wore a brown button down work shirt, something you’d used to see on gas station employees, and jeans. He wasn’t out of his twenties, I was sure of that. The trick was to look at people’s hands, they showed true age better than anything.
“Get out. Slowly” She ordered. Her gun dipped slightly, easing the threat. I still complied, pushing open the door and stepping onto the packed dirt. My jeep didn’t deserve bullet holes any more than I did.”What are you doing here?” The woman asked.
The man, who I guessed was her son from their identical dust brown eyes, stayed silent with his gun trained on me. They were smart. I’ll give them that.
Simply answering with sleeping would sound too flippant. “Passing through, started nodding off so I pulled over. Thats all.” I kept my hands up.
The son’s eyes narrowed with suspicion. The woman’s thin lips twitched. “You just pulled over.” It was funny to her. “In the middle of otherside territory.”
I nodded. “Falling asleep at the wheel would kill me just as easily. Does he ever say anything?” I smiled at the son. He was cute in a corruptible farm boy sort of way.
“Doesn’t need to, he’s here to shoot you if you move too quick.” I believed her, he was also cute in that knows how to handle a six shooter sort of way. “You said you were just passing through. You ready to keep doing that?”
“I’m almost out of gas, and I haven’t eaten in a while.” I said, it was the truth but not the right answer. The right answer was ‘Yes ma’am. I leave now, have a good evening.’
She eyed me, from my dusty walking boots to the white t-shirt that fit a bit too snug. Both had possessed a few owners before me. I guessed I could say the same thing about the guns trained on me. Wasn’t for anyone to judge, people survived as they could.
The son sensed his mother’s thoughts. “Mom.” It was the first thing I’d heard him say, and it was a warning.
She didn’t take her eyes off me. “You don’t look like an othersider.” She said with another twitch of her mouth. I amused her, or she found my stupidity funny.
My hands were still up, I wasn’t gonna move until those guns did. I wasn’t that stupid. “Neither do you.” I said back. It didn’t mean anything, othersiders could look like whatever the hell they wanted to. I figured we both knew that.
The son shook his head when his mother lowered the gun and extended her own hand. It was weathered and rough as cats tongue when I shook it. “Come on, we have some food to spare and a couch, if you’d like.” An offer of hospitality. Those were rare, and all the more powerful because of it. I nodded.
“I accept, thank you.”
She still didn’t turn her back on me, she’d want to hear my story first. But her son lowered his gun and waited for me to climb back into the jeep. “That thing have enough to get another twenty miles or so?” She asked, brown hands on narrow hips.
I nodded. “Barely.” That was all they needed. The two made their way back to a rust dappled truck. When it startled its rollicking trundle across the bank and back to the highway I followed.