Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah by Scott Jarvie. Used with permission of @jarvie through his Minnow Support Picture Catalog.He woke to the sounds of distant gunfire. Tom wiped away the frost from the glass window and peered at the semi sitting next to him. He shivered and rose the car seat from its reclined bed, held his head in his hands, and jumped at another gunshot. The opening day of the deer hunt in Snowville, Utah.
He spent the night in the car after an accident on the highway. In the Snowville truck stop, the self-drive trailer remained attached to his small two-seater. The adage, “the universe provides” certainly providing a heap of bad luck the night before. His trip from Idaho to Texas ended on the Utah border with the trailer pulling the car backwards down a grade and burning up the clutch. The car and trailer jack-knifed causing a two-mile backup. Once the wrecker arrived, he watched drivers go by and curse him for the delay. He rode to Snowville in silence convinced no one wanted to help him.
From his memory of philosophy, this clearly amplified the resignation of the ancient Greeks. The best he could do was smile and try to endure yet another trial delivered by the universe.
A bell on the door announced him as he stumbled inside the diner. “Just sit anywhere you want hon,” a waitress dressed like a pink tablecloth shouted his way. Hunters filled the booths more intent on blueberry syrup then sitting in a deer stand. He found a seat at the counter next to a heavy-set truck driver wearing a black leather vest, blue jeans, and a pair of Wellington boots.
“Pass the sugar,” the driver said. Tom pushed over the shaker and reached for a menu.
“Get the pancakes and eggs.”
The driver let the sugar pour into his cup. In the mirror over the counter, Tom watched a group of men in orange jackets and hats laugh and punch each other as they left the diner. He set the menu back on the napkin rack.
“The cook can’t mess up pancakes.”
The driver stared ahead. A waitress brought over a pot of coffee and refilled his cup.
The driver shot him a glance and Tom interpreted it as “don’t pass on the coffee.”
“Sure, fill my cup.”
The driver handed over the shaker and watched Tom pour a trickle of sugar.
“You’re not a hunter,” the driver said. “So you must be a traveler.”
“Car broke down on the highway,” Tom said. He dipped his fingers in his water-glass and tried to push down his hair. Tom caught the big man watching him in the mirror.
“Sleep in your car?” he asked.
“Woke up to gunshots,” Tom said. “I forgot it was the first day of the hunt.”
The driver looked behind him at the crowded diner. “They act like it didn’t happen last year. I’m Butch.” He reached out a large hand and Tom shook it.
“I’m Tom Washburn. I’m on my way to Texas.”
“Just left Lubbock,” Butch said. “I’m halfway to Seattle hauling truck parts.”
“I’m heading to Plainview. Isn’t that near Lubbock?”
“The middle stop on the Amarillo Highway north of the Hub City. Why there?”
“My girlfriend started the fall semester at Wayland Baptist.”
“Home to Jimmy Dean sausage and cotton. Not much else.”
The waitress refilled Butch’s coffee. He poured in more sugar. She refilled Tom’s too. Butch took a big swallow. Tom tried to keep up.
“You must be in the Honda with the trailer,” Butch said. “Kinda crazy to be hauling it with such a little car.”
“Burned up the clutch,” Tom said. “Cost me almost everything to tow it here. I’m trying to figure it out.”
“Well, if I was going back to Lubbock, I’d take you.”
Butch motioned for a refill of his coffee and the waitress returned with the pot. Tom finished his coffee and she refilled it too.
“I’m thinking about calling my dad,” Tom said. Tom wished Butch was going back to Lubbock. He didn’t want to admit to Dad he was still a kid.
“He’ll need to drive across Nevada from home. And then I still have to figure out the car. Maybe he’ll pay to fix it?”
Tom studied Butch for insight. The driver finished his coffee and pushed away from the counter. Tom took a last swallow, set down his last ten dollar bill, and followed Butch out of the diner.
“Well, I’ve got to go. I’ll stop and see if you’re still here when I get back from Seattle.”
Butch shook Tom’s hand, turned, and ran to his truck. The engine jumped to life and idled in the cold morning. Butch soon moved the rig to the highway.
Tom’s head felt like a helium balloon and his heart was racing. He stepped inside the telephone booth and made a collect call to his dad. Tom spoke fast explaining why he was in Snowville. Dad agreed to come to Utah to help him figure it out.
“Why are you talking so fast,” Dad asked.
“I tried to keep up with a Texas truck driver drinking black coffee and sugar,” Tom said. “This Snowville coffee might as well be 90-proof. I’m going to have a pounding headache tomorrow.”
Tom walked through the semis. He watched a truck drive by with a six-point deer on its bumper. He climbed inside his car, reclined the seat, and tried to take a nap.
The picture of the Bonneville Salt Flats is being used with permission and in partnership with @jarvie on Steemit. If you’d like to reach out to him with questions about his Minnow Support Picture Catalog contact him at email@example.com.