A Short Story
The Midnight Ride Of Dewey Trueman
The best and the bravest are dead. All that are left are the scum- the liars and cheats, the dancers wallowing in the fat of the land.
Every weekend Dewey Trueman hitchhiked from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area and back. This is a distance of about twelve hundred miles. You can see how desperate Trueman was to distance himself from his situation in the Navy if only for a few hours; for most of the weekend was spent on the road.
On good days he arrived in Oakland at four or five on Saturday morning. To be in San Diego by eight Monday mornig he had to be up on the Altamont by four in the afternoon on Sunday.
Trueman’s immediate concern was simply to make time he was not paying attention to the sweep and scope of the landscape and events. His mind was so tranfixed on the horrors of his situation that he couldn’t see the beauties around him or analyze the sequences of events passing before him faster than a frame in a movie clip.
On this particular occasion Dewey was returning to San Diego from Oakland. The year was 1959, some few months before he was discharged. The Altamont Pass leads out of the Bay Area between San Leandro and Hayward, down to Tracy and then you take a jog down the San Joaquin River to Modesto where the route joins the old main throughway Highway 99.
Highway 99 led straight between the Sierra Nevada to the East and the Coast Range to the West down the length of the San Joaquin Valley to Bakersfield and the Grapevine. This is a distance of about three hundred miles. If you look at a map you may say: ‘Oh yeah, I can see that.’ Perhaps. But you can’t visualize it. You can’t understand California realities. For instance, and these are or were at one time remarkable facts. The highway was four lanes with a median strip. The entire length of the median was planted with Oleander bushes to muffle the lights of oncoming traffic. The Oleander is drought resistant which is good because there is little rainfall in the suffocatingly hot San Joaquin Valley.
The Oleander is also poisonous to cattle but few of them grazed the meridian. The view in the spring when the Oleanders were in magnificent bloom was spectacular; three hundred gorgeous miles. Surely that fact should have made the Guiness book of world records.
Ninety-nine was not at that time a freeway but a high speed limited access road. This meant that there was a cross road every ten or fifteen miles or even less. To facilitate local traffic there was what was called a frontage road on either side of the highway. Thus there were two lanes, an open space, a fence, an open space, two lanes, the meridian and a duplication on the other side. The chain link fences in themselves had to be among the longest fences in the world.
With few breaks the road either passed thrugh towns or was lined with service stations, restaurants, roadside attractions or whatnot. As this was post-Sputnik one guy had even built a huge replica of a rocket beside his station dispensing Rocket Gas.
All of these establishments were on the other side of the fence on the frontage road so you had to drive past them, exit and drive back. They were always busy so lots of people did. They were usually staffed by sullen suspicious people unable to enjoy the California sunshine. As dark as Dewey’s outlook was he never felt unusual.
At the time there was no speed limit so that one flew past all these delights. If there was a speed limit only the duds observed it.
Life is full of delights and subsequent disappointments. Dewey hadn’t been standing on the Altamont long before a green ’59 Plymouth pulled to a stop. The driver, Gabe Rawlins was on his way to LA.
‘Alright.’ Thought Dewey. ‘Luck is a lady tonight. Almost non-stop.’
Gabe was a real nice guy. Like most normal people he was only almost normal, not quite there. His eccentricity was that he was an advocate of steam powered cars. He thought their return was just around the corner. In fact, he was an expert, a noted authority as he said. He communicated with other experts on steam power all over the world, especially Australia.
‘Well,’ said Dewey amiably, ‘All right, so why does your Plymouth have an internal combustion gasoline engine?’
Gabe was coughing around an answer when he spotted another hitchhiker. He was a Second Class Gunner’s Mate with two four year hashmarks on his sleeve.
‘Career man.’ Dewey thought. ‘All those guys are pricks.’
‘No. Don’t pick him up.’ Dewey pleaded. ‘All these career guys are arrogant. What’s a second class doing hitchhiking anyway?’
But nice guys are the cause of all their problems. Gabe pulled over. Dewey tried to get out to let Lee Nelson, the Gunner’s Mate into the middle, but Nelson was no fool he dept shoving Dewey back in. Unable to win that way, Dewey said: ‘I’ll get in back.’
‘No.’ Gabe said. ‘Stay in front.’
Dewey groaned to himself. He knew that was trouble ahead he just didn’t know what.
Nelson turned out to be as arrogant as Dewey expected. Gabe continued to rattle on about steam power. In fact, the man was absolutely ridiculous on the subject but whatever his faults Dewey was always respectful although since Gabe had picked up Nelson he also lost interest. Nelson openly ridiculted and reviled old Gabe.
Gabe was no slouch behind the wheel of an internal combustion engine. After they wheeled through Modesto they were on the wide open highway. Modesto was a strange town in that the speed limit was twenty-five but signs posted by the highway informed you that the stop lights were timed for thirty-five per. So everybody drove ten miles over the speed limit with official sanction. One wondered.
Outside Modesto Gabe really barreled. He kept the plunger in for ninety per. That old Plymouth was barely making contact with the road. Nine-nine was not a freeway, you really had to watch those crossroads because the meridian made it difficult for drivers to dart across.
Modesto was the last town that you actually passed through all the way to the Grapevine. Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield were all to the side of the highway so that with luck you could maintain speed as long as you had gas. At these speeds you could watch the gas gauge go down.
Dewey had a lot of experience on 99; he knew the road better than nine out of ten drivers. They were coming up on a very dangerous spot somewhere between Merced and Fresno, almost Fresno. There was an especially dangerous crossroad where the north bound lanes were about eight feet higher than the south bound lanes. Dewey had already been in near accidents there.
They had made good time, it was only just after nightfall. About a mile away Dewey spotted an old double front ended Studebaker sitting on the meridian sloping down from the Northbound lanes. Call it deja vu, call it paranoia, call it prescience. Gabe was bubbling away countering the jibes of Nelson.
‘Watch this guy, watch this guy. Change lanes, slow down, this guy’s dangerous.’
Nelson was one of those loud mouthed know it all First Division jerks. No wonder the Deck Force had a bad reputation. Most of them were idiots who couldn’t survive on the outside. He outshouted Dewey.
The Studebaker just sat there, then about a hird of a mile away it seemed that the driver just took his foot off the brake and began to coast across the fast lane. If Dewey had gotten Gabe to change lanes they would have missed him. A quarter mile away Gabe slammed on the brakes but didn’t change lanes. The Plymouth turned into a rocket sled but it slid straight down the highway.
‘Goddamn you Nelson.’ Dewey shouted as the distance closed. By that Dewey meant that if it hadn’t been for Nelson he wouldn’t have been stuck in the middle nor would Dewey have been crazy enough to needle a very excitable driver. Dewey laid off the whole blame on Nelson although Nelson was too stupid and self absorbed to understand his complicity. Dewey saw certain death before him. He went limp as rag doll and hoped for the best. The Plymouth slammed into the Studebaker at fifty-five per midway between the bumper and the cab.
The collision drove the Studebaker thirty feet down the highway where it sat midlane pointing South. The Plymouth totaled. Dewey bounced around the seat, first over Gabe then against the windshield which didn’t break, then over Nelson, finally sprawled over both.
Incredibly no one was hurt. The driver of the Studebaker was somewhat dazed pacing the middle of the highway. He was ninety years old.
‘Look at the old fart.’ Gabe rued. ‘He probably isn’t any more dazed than he was before. You guys are going to stick around to give the police a statement for me, aren’t you?’
Nelson already had his thumb out.
‘Give the police your own statement you dumb son-of-a-bitch. All you had to do was change lanes to avoid the accident. That’s all I’d tell the police.’
Incredibly enough a car screeched to a stop between the wreckage and roadside. Nelson leaped in and was gone. Nice guys are the cause of their own trouble; Nelson wasn’t going to be late for muster.
The police were very slow in arriving.
‘Hey, Gabe, I really gotta go or I’m going to miss muster.’ If Dewey had been thinking more flexibly he would have had himself taken to the hospital and had good cause to be late.
‘No. Wait. You gotta give me a statement.’
As he was pleading the police drove up.
Dewey wrote out a statement which the police didn’t seem to care about then stuck his thumb out. The uniform was worth something because you seldom had to wait long. Even in the dark when the dark blue uniform was barely visible. The driver dropped him off at the last Bakerfield exit before the Grapevine.
The Grapvine was the stretch of highway that twisted over the desolate, barren mountains between the LA basin and the San Joaquin Valley. The place was miserable for anyone hoping to catch a ride, more strangeness happened there than just about anywhere else.
Now Dewey was apprehensive. Not only was Bakersfield a tough hitchhiking town but if dropped on the Grapevine it would be very, very tough to get back on time.
Dewey took up a station, becoming very concerned. Adjacent to the road was the Gatehouse Tavern. George Wimpleton was an old homo predator who patrolled this stretch of road with his porno dreams. Looking out the window he spotted Trueman putting his thumb out. Lisping from his stool he left his beer and ran to his car. He wheeled around the corner stopping in front of Dewey.
The car was an old forty something Dodge. Classy in its time, no doubt, and classy enough if you like old cars. At the time it was a typical fag wagon.
‘Hop in.’ Wimpleton commanded in a limp wristed way.
‘Bad situation.’ Dewey thought. ‘But I’m just about out of options.’
He hopped in.
Wimpleton got straight to the point.
‘I like sex performed on me by men. I’m not queer, you are. Now, you’ve got a decision to make, buddy, and you’re going to make it fast. Understand?’
‘Uh, what decision might that be?’ Dewey sneered always amazed at how the queer tried to deny their emasculation by acting powerful.
‘You’ve got two options, Jack. I’m going to drive behind a knoll up here about five miles. Now, you’re going to give me a blow job until I’m satisfied.’ Wimpleton sounded like his capacity was such that it might take months. ‘If you do it right I’ll drive you straight back to the base. You won’t be late.
If you don’t…’ He paused for effect. ‘…I’ll take you back to my ranch, a prisoner sex slave for me and my friends. When we finish with you we’ll kill y9u and no one will ever hear from you again.’
Dewey looked over at George Wimpleton in amazement. The road is a strange and dangerous place. Dewey was man of some experience. He had probably dealt with more than Wimpleton had. Over the course of his hitchhiking he had been picked up by hundreds, perhaps thousands, sometimes it seemed like millions. Some weekends perhaps as many as forty or fifty. Many had made boastful threats. There were hitchhikers who had disappeared. Sailors even disappeared with some frequency. Everyone just assumed they were AWOL although a body occasionally washed up on the beach. But Dewey wasn’t worried, he had always come out without dishonor.
As he looked over at the physical specimen of Wimpleton he was somewhat amazed at the violence of his speech and assurance with which he made it. Wimpleton was typical of the legions of men who prowled the highways looking for male sex. He appeared to be about fifty-five; he was round and pudgy, wore glasses and had a soft white collar quality to him. He had given no indication of having a gun or a knife.
Dewey was slender but a six footer, although not violent by nature he could handle himself in a run of the mill fight. He was bemused by the blustering commands of Wimpleton. But the couldn’t be sure that there might not be more queers behind this hill of which Wimpleton spoke. A man with his pants at his knees is at the mercy of the man before him. Dewey suppressed a chuckle.
Dewey knew that no one is more susceptible lies than a liar. No one is more gullible for exotic sex stories than a queer obsessed with the topic. Dewey decided to get rid of the guy before they left the road.
‘Oh, now…’ He groaned with apparent deep grief. ‘…I’m so sorry for you.’
‘Sorry for me?’ Wimpleton said, startled. ‘How’s that?’
‘I know what you want and you’re the kind of powerful guy I’d really like to give it to, you’re so forceful you, but…’ Sob. ‘I can’t.’
‘Why not?’ Wimpleton replied heartened and mystified at the same time.
‘Oh man, I’m really ashamed and embarrassed to admit this but I’ve never matured sexually.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’m just going to blurt it out. I can’t get a hard on.’
”You can’t get a hard on?’ Wimpleton ejaculated, spattering the windshield.
‘No, man. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried. I’ve done everything. I’ve tried manipulating it myself, I’ve gone to little girls, big girls, women of all ages, even grannies. The same with boys and men. I’ve even tried animals abut no matter what I do I just can’t get it up. I’ve just never matured. I’m in the Guiness book of world records as the oldest unmatured man.’
Wimpleton’s eyes were bugging out of his head. His breathing was heavy, his hands were almost paralyzed on the wheel.
‘You’re a freak!’ He shouted. ‘I almost contaminated myself. I’m glad you were honest enough to tell me. This isn’t going to work at all. I’m leaving you off right here.’ He said slamming the brakes on. ‘Get out of my car, you freak.’
‘Hey, I’m sorry man.’
‘Just get out of my car.’
‘Well, alright, if you feel that way. So long, pal.’
‘Don’t you dare call me pal.’ Wimpleton copped a U across the Grapevine and sped back toward Bakersfield. He would be telling the story years later.
He had dropped Dewey off at the base of the little knoll. Dewey walked back behind it to make sure no one was there. There was no one but the evidence showed that it was a most used rendezvous. There were numerous tire tracks.
Dewey was now running late. The worst had happened to him; he had been dropped off on the Grapevine at night. The cars were few and far between and he was barely visible by the side of the road. He resorted to the expedient of stepping out in the traffic lane for better visibility.
Luck was with him; a traveling salesman heading into the Basis picked him up right away. He was lonely and wanted to talk. The radio was tuned to some country station where the DJ was on a Chet Atkins jag. He was trying to prove to the world what the world already knew; that Chet Atkins was a great guitar player.
Dewey had little to talk about as all he knew was the Navy and the highway. He gamely tried to amuse the guy with tales of the highway. His observations were unpleasant to the driver.
Dewey noted to him that although Blacks were a significant part of the population you almost never saw Blacks on the highway. Nearly everyone was White.
This led the driver into a diatribe about the race wars going on in Alabama at the time. Dewey wasn’t interested in Alabama. Further, isolated in the Navy he was only just aware of them. Surprisingly everyone he knew was sympathetic to the Blacks. He was even more mystified because the race wars aboard ship raged on unabated. Sympathy in Alabama didn’t extent to the Teufelsdreck. Obviously altruism was only for distant objects, like the star, Betelguese. Such observations merely angered the driver, so Dewey tried to get off the subject.
Unfortunately he began to talk about queers. As he told about Wimpleton he then began to generalize about the physical type of men who patrolled the highways. He noted that they were never tall muscular, athletic types or even small effeminate types but always like Wimpleton. As he described the type he failed to note that the driver fitted it perfectly. The driver picked up on more quickly. He wasn’t getting the bright chat he thought he deserved.
He was however a decent man. He didn’t drop Dewey on the Grapevine but got him at least a ways up Lankershim. Now all Dewey had to do was get across the sprawling metropolis or LA. A lot of rides, fifty or more.
He had a succession of short hops up Lankershim; picked up by an assortment of oddballs. One was an amiable queer who was of the mold Dewey had just been describing. He wanted to give oral sex.
‘I used to be in the Navy.’
‘Yes. Had a great time in Japan. Used to get great head from those Grishas.’ Apparently he meant Geishas.
‘Oh, yeah?’ Dewey said, getting the drift.
‘Yes. I’ll bet that you choked a few of them.
‘Why would I want to choke anyone?’ Dewey asked, apprehensive that he had been picked up by a real weirdo.
‘I mean when you shoved it down their throats you were so big you choked them.’
‘Oh, no man. I’ve never done that. I don’t approve of it really.’
‘I see. Well, you’re a very decent person. I’ll just let you out right here. You’re sure?’
‘Yeah, but thanks anyway. You seem like a decent guy, too.’
Dewey was immediatly picked up by a religious fanatic.
‘Have you been saved, man?’
‘Yeah, just now, man. You just did it. Especially if you’re going to San Diego.’
‘You sacriligious son-of-a-bitch. Get out of my car.’
Dewey finally made it to the foot of the Hollywood Freeway. There he was picked up by a particularly persisten queer who just wouldn’t give up. He was outside Dewey’s type characterization being six feet and athletic looking.
He was a real wrangler, one of those guys who thinks that he never fails. He caught the 101 interchange in that huge stack of five freeways clinging to that LA hillside so that Dewey was confident that he wouldn’t dump him in the middle of nowhere. Just to keep the guy headed South Dewey wrangled with him.
Barry Weston, was was his name, knew the roads very well. He was out every Sunday night when the picking were richest as the sailors hurried back to San Diego. He not only knew the map he knew the sociology of the roads.
Weston was playing to the end. When they reached Anaheim he turned to Dewey and said: ‘Now, what’s it going to be? Are you going to give and get a ride back to the base on time or is it going to be like this?’
As they spoke they passed to the South side of Anaheim. An absolutely astounding sight unfolded in the night. The highway was lighted. There beside the huge six lane haighway was an unending line of sailors stationed every hundred feet for mile after mile. As Weston purred by them the pecularites of the line unfolded. As a sailor was picked up or dropped off, the line automatically shifted left or right as the sailors adjusted the spacing to remain equidistant. A huge ebbing and flowing effect was constantly going on.
They had already passed thousands and thousands of sailors. The line appeared to stretch on indefinitely.
‘Well, what’s it going t0 be?’ Weston sneered, playing his trump card. ‘You going to give and get back on time or take your place in that line?’
‘Thanks for the lift. Pull over and let me out, man.’
Dewey stipped out in front of another sailor.
The sailor pointed to a spot between he and the next in line indicating Dewey should be there. Dewey looked up and down this amazing line then took up the station. The line rippled left and right to accommodate him. Somewhere in the line sailors left or were added. The line ebbed back and Trueman did a funny little sidestep to adjuxt. Everyone in the line did their little dance over and over as time dragged on.
Trueman lost all anxiety as he pondered his situation. It seemed hopeless. There didn’t seem to be enough cars on the road to accommodate this portion of the fleet let alone drivers to pick them up. There wasn’t even any reason to put your thumb out.
Probably if you did get picked up,’ He thought. ‘It would just be another queer trying to cut a deal or else.’
He watched the cars pass with drooping spirits. Suddenly a car traveling the fast lane at a terrific clip caught everyone’s attention. It was a red and whote ’55 Chevy. While everyone watched he driver whipped, almost in a right turn, across all three lanes of traffic to screech to a stop in front of Dewey.
Dewey was astonished beyond belief. ‘Why me?’ He thought. ‘What signals was I transmitting, what criteria were these guys using to pick me out?’
‘Get in the middle.’
The back seat was jammed with clothes and household goods. A Louisville Slugger lay conspicuously in the foot space atop some junk with the brand name up. Dewey looked across at the driver. Both guys were lean and wiry, probably not wueer, but out on some type of joy ride. Dewey tried to opt out.
‘Hey, thanks for stopping you guys but I think I’ll pass. Wait for something else. Thanks anyway.’
‘Aw, hey man, yu definitely don’t want to hurt our feelings.’
Dewey followed his gaze down to the baseball bat. he looked out across the plowed fields. He wasn’t a fast runner anyway. The guy could bring him down with the baseball bat as he ran. ‘Well.’ Dewey thought. ‘Maybe I can talk fast.’
‘Hurt your feelings? Aw, no man. I didn’t realize it was like that. But, hey, since I’ll be getting out first why don’t I sit on the outside. Save you some trouble later.’
‘No. It’s our car. Get in the middle.’
Dewey slid in. The door slammed shut, the driver accelerated into the fast lane. The driver, Jack, who did not introduce himself, got right to the point.
‘We need your opinion on something man. I got a real difficult situation here.’
‘Oh gosh, my opinion wouldn’t be worth much.’ Dewey said. ‘Gee, I’m only twenty, I don’t have much experience at all.’
‘You got enough for us, man. Here’s the problem.’
All the time the driver spoke the car was going eighty miles an hour. The line of sailors ebbed and flowed and danced in an enormously long line. the phenomenon was surely one of the most spectacular sights the world had to offer. By daylight all these sailors would be gone, nearly all of them would make it back in time for muster. This phenomenon happened every single Sunday night for those who had eyes to see and the intellect to understand.
‘Ya see, it’s like this. I used to be married to this woman. Beautiful woman, high school sweetheart. We were very happy but I wasn’t making much money. Then this guy comes along, a coal miner.’
‘Coal miner? In LA?’
‘Yeah, so this guy is making a lot of money, coal miners get paid real good.’
‘Sure, they gotta work underground which is real dangerous work. You wouldn’t do it for the minimum wage, would you?’
‘I wouldn’t do it for a lot of money.’
‘Well, shut up and listen. So my wife falls for this guy’s bucks, divorces me and goes with him.
This was only a couple years ago. So I become very distraught. I don’t know what to do, so I join the Army. While I am in the Army now I meet his very wonderful girl who loves me only for myself. I married her last month.’
‘Where’s an Army base in La?’
‘There is one.’ I’m stationed there, OK? Now shut up and listen. So right after I marry my present wife there is a terrible cave in at the mine and my wife’s new husband is killed.’
‘Boy, I never heard about that. Whre are these coal mines in LA?’
‘Listen, they have steel mills in LA, don’t they?’
‘Well, you need a coal mine to make steel, don’t you? So where there’s steel mills there’s coal mines. OK?’
‘Boy.’ Thought Dewey. ‘There’s a stretch of logic.’ But it wasn’t his car and he was in the middle.
‘So the mine caves in on this guy’s head and he’s got accidental life insurance for twenty-five thousand dollars. So now my wife is got twenty-five thousand dollars and no husband to spend it with. So now after I’m married to my current wife my ex-wife wants me to come back to her and the twenty-five grand. What would you do?’
So this was the trick. Dewey thought that if he answered one way they would beat him to death with the Louisville Slugger; if he answered the other they might let him go. He wasn’t sure what kind of guys they were.
‘Gosh.’ Dewey attempted to equivocate. ‘I don’t know how to call it. That’s a tough one.’
‘Call it anyway. I gotta know.’
Dewey looked right at Al who was looking at him expectantly, then back at Jack who was angrily demanding an answer.
Dewey desperately wanted to make the right decision but he was having a hard time reading Jack.
‘Funny I didn’t hear about that mine cave in.’ He countered. ‘You think it would have been on the news.’
‘You were out to sea. Forget the cave in. It happened. Give me your decision.’
Unable to decide Dewey decided to go with his own morality come what may.
‘Umm. I’d stay with your current wife who loves you for what you are, whatever that may be, and is true to you even in the Army, which is really something.’
‘Really? Yeah, but my ex is a real looker. Lots better than my current wife.’
‘Well, looks are only skin deep. Fidelity is worth more.’
‘Sure, but what about the twenty-five thousand dollars? That’s a lot of money.’
Dewey could nearly count the number of twenty dollar bills he’d seen in his life, if you laid them all out in a row they wouldn’t reach to the end of a table. He had no concept of money but even by the late fifties it was common to speak of millions so twenty-five thousand didn’t sound like much. Dewey could see himself spending it in no time.
‘Well, she’s left you once for money and twenty-five thousand won’t last very long. Once it’s gone she’ll probbly leave you again. This is Hollywood, there’s lots of guys with lots of money, lot more than twenty-five thousand. If she’s that good looking she’s liable to get some taste and probably get one of those.’
The unconscious insult slid over Jack.
‘Say, you know I think you’re right. I’ll stay with my current wife.’ So saying he whipped over to the side of the road, shoved Dewey out and sped off.
‘Wow, that was a close one.’ Dewey thought. ‘I thought I was going to die for sure. Coal mines in LA!’
So there he was at the end of the line just before San Juan Capistrano. A couple of disconsolate sailors were standing about hw were soon picked up leaving Dewey standing alone.
He was now very anxious because it was getting late. Usually he was either back by now or getting close.
A car pulled over. Can you drive ?’ The driver asked.
‘Sure.’ Dewey said who had only been behind the wheel once in his life.
‘Do you have a license?’
‘Are you kidding? I’ve been ar0und cars all my life.’
‘OK. But I’m really tired and want to sleep. If you can drive you can ride.’
Dewey ran over to the driver’s side and hopped in. As he got behind the wheel he realized he was somewhat hazy about shifting. Fortunately the car was an automatic.
‘Do you usually drive your car in D1 or D2?’ Dewey asked what he hoped would be taken as a polite question and not betray his ignorance.
‘I put it is Drive of course. Say, do you really have a license?’
Dewey slipped it into D1 and lurched off.
‘You can go to sleep now.’ Dewey announced.
‘I’m going to watch you a little, make sure you know how to drive first.’ But he drifted off to sleep immediately.
The night was dark. Dewey was driving very tentatively at barely fifty miles an hour. He was not only tired but emotionally exhausted by a most adventurous trip. He andered over onto the shoulder for a moment. The owner awoke immediately.
‘Jesus Christ. What’s happening?’
Nothing. I just ran over a narrow part of the road.’
‘Narrow part of the road! Say, you don’t have a license do you?’
‘I know how to drive. They just didn’t make this part of the road very wide, that’s all.’
‘Answer my question directly. Do you have a driver’s license?’
‘Not today. I’m going to get one tomorrow.’
‘Just what I thought. Stop the car. Get out.’
Dewey couldn’t perwuade the owner to either let him drive or ride so he reluctantly got out. Four-thirty in themorning and there he was by the side of a deserted road. The sun was up before he caught another ride. At seven-thirty he was dropped off at the end of the bus line in San Diego. He hopped a bus. At ten after eight he was racing through the Navy yard for the Teufeldreck’s pier.
He arrived just in time to see the ship backing out for maneuvers. Too late, he’d missed the boat.
‘Damn.’ He said out loud. ‘AWOL. Now I’ll have to stand a Captain’s Mast.’