El Paso Passing (6) – Unfiltered Cigarettes and No Country Music


Mr. Trucker pulls out a tray and grunts, “You want some coke? It keeps me alert when I pull an all-nighter.  I want you to be alert, too, like you promised.” He winks at me and dumps out a heap of white powder.  He quickly slides it into lines with a razor and rolls up a dollar bill.  He violently sniffs up a line.  I had never done coke but seeing I was doing a lot of things I had never done before, I snort a line, too.  The bitter powder catches in my throat and I cough.

He nervously looks out the window and sniffs before starting the engine.  His hand reaches towards the silver knob on the radio.  “What you into?” He asks.

“Anything but country music,” I say.

He laughs this odd laugh.  He is creepy, but he is my ride.  He puts on some golden oldies station and Herman’s Hermits are singing “Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter.” The music sounds peppy and cheerful, but I think it’s from the cocaine.  Mr. Trucker hands me this generic, unfiltered cigarette and it tastes great even though I’m choking and coughing.  I look behind the curtain that walls off the back of the cab.  That bastard Bryan is still snoring.  I think he’s a jerk.  He’s the kind of guy who spends his last two dollars buying burgers for himself while you stuff your pockets full of crackers at the Wendy’s salad bar. I wish I had never hitched with him.

“Why don’t you scoot closer,” Mr. Trucker says.  “Ya know. Why don’t you flirt some.”

I think I know what he means, but I pretend not to.  He tells me that I promised to talk and says, “so start talking.” He is getting all jumpy and flashing his blood shot eyes.  I scoot closer, sitting on the hump between the two seats in the cab. I have dust in my nose and my mouth, but he likes me anyway.


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