Hello Hitch-Hiker

The young man was glad; and entered the passenger seat, all smiles. What could possibly go wrong? He was very gentle, nodding his appreciation. “I’m headed to LA, he said. “I want to see the beach.”

                                    Hello Hitch-Hiker

Sarah wished she had followed her mother’s advice. Marry at an early age and become successful. She failed at both. She filed for divorce after 5 years; and took 4 more years to have a sensible career. At 36, Sarah felt less accomplished than she had been, married to a construction worker at the downstream sector. Sure, at the time, she earned more than her husband, being a record label music publisher. But what they don’t tell you, as an unhappily wedded woman, is that construction workers move on to become General contractors.

So, yeah, spousal support was great—however long it lasted—but she would do anything to trade places with her millionaire ex-husband’s new fiancé, who was ten years younger.

That bitch.

She hated men; but then again, she never wanted kids until after the divorce. One time, she tried to get her ex-husband back; it was a disaster. I should never have shown up unannounced. Imagine walking in on your ex-husband on a lovely indoor date night with his plump, beautiful college graduate girlfriend, who had those soft supple lips…

Sarah sighed. She hated her life. After the divorce, she lost all her friends; the same ones who supported her divorce proceedings. Married, every single one of them, while she was here driving herself nuts… literally.

Sarah was on the California highway to LA. She was going to meet her new signing, a Fresno-born 18-year-old artist. His music wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was a weird mix between the Weeknd and Lil Uzi Vert—kids these days are so confusing.

Her car stereo was playing the kid’s EP, which somehow magically charted on the US billboard. Last night, her boss, the owner of Laidback Melodies record label, gave instructions to go pick up their new artist. Apparently, he would be their new major summer act. No doubt, Sarah loved her job. She would never trade the music life for anything. But she hated just one part of it; the ramblings that came with new breakout stars, who thought they would literally fly up the charts.

At best, these artists get ripped off on record deals they could never pay off. And publishers like her got a heavy percentage. She couldn’t complain. But at the moment, she would love nothing more than a companion on this long exhausting trip; her third this month.

Lucky for her, after enduring a 3-minute rendition of what seemed like a cheeky rip-off of ‘Can’t Feel my Face’, Sarah found a comely man on the side of the road, flagging down her vehicle. He seemed pretty hip, with how he dressed—kind of like a rockstar without proper footwear. The young lad had natural ebony hair that flowed somewhat erratically down his back. His shirt was buttoned to his midriff, revealing a sexy bod within.

Immediately, Sarah was quite fascinated by him. To be honest, she didn’t have that much luck picking up guys at the bar. Apparently, men were intimidated by successful women who talked a lot. And there’s that obnoxious belly fat that she just couldn’t shake off.

She slowed her car and stopped for her fateful passerby. Usually, a man who was comfortable wearing a pair of flip flops should signal a warning to anyone that this was a true hippie. And also, the somewhat ragged backpack slung over his shoulder should signify crazy. But Sarah was quite desperate for company, especially after her recent heartbreak; and gladly welcomed this man into her vehicle.

The young man was glad; and entered the passenger seat, all smiles. What could possibly go wrong?

He was very gentle, nodding his appreciation. “I’m headed to LA, he said. “I want to see the beach.”

Sarah flicked her hair this way and that, clearly tensed up by the aura of this sexy man in her car. “What beach?”

The young man shrugged. “Oh, just anywhere will do.” And then he commented positively on the music playing.

To Sarah, this was an invitation to discuss her business. And she took the full opportunity, explaining what she did for a living; mentioning the many celebrities she worked with and detailing her prominent role in the American music industry. The young man, Ted by name, was quite pleased. He was a great listener and welcomed all of her trivialities.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, Ted requested some water. Sarah passed him a bottle from her glove compartment and watched confoundedly as the young man chugged it all in one swig. I’ve been walking for several hours, he explained. This was the first major red flag, but Sarah didn’t mind; she kept on rambling about how nasty her boss was; and how sometimes she caught him staring at her boobs.

All was fine until Sarah excitedly sped past a red light. On the California highway, two things are an absolute staple: beautiful landscapes and Highway patrol. Sarah found this to be true as a patrol vehicle reared up behind her car, just two minutes after her traffic violation.

“Shit,” Sarah said, noticing the patrol signaling for her to pull over. Obliging, Sarah said to her passenger, “Don’t worry; I’ll handle this quickly. It—“

And then turned in time to find her passenger, now in the backseat, hiding.

“What the—”

“Now listen,” said Ted, his voice now low and hoarse like that of a serial killer. “I have a bomb in this bag. Lose the cop or we both explode!”

What?

“I’m sorry, What?!” said Sarah, not believing her ears. The cop’s sirens were louder now, and her car was slowing to a halt.

“I’m not playing games woman. I have a C4 infused, perimeter 450 square mile damage bomb,” said Ted, serious as a doctor. “Lose the police or we both explode, along with the rest of the highway.”

Sarah took a moment to breathe. I cannot believe this. I have a terrorist in my vehicle! She pulled over all right, and then waited for the patrol to park his vehicle. The moment the officer stepped out of his vehicle, she punched the gas and ran that highway.

This was Fast and Furious in real life.

Jesus, Jesus; she kept saying. I’m going to die.

Damn right you are, said Ted, if you don’t get me to a beach.

Sarah wanted to cry but she couldn’t. How could she when a terrorist was threatening to blow up her car if she didn’t speed up? So she did the only thing she could—drive faster. It was 5 pm, and the sun was almost dipping below the clouds. Sarah’s orange Toyota Prius was doing miles it wasn’t built for. In the back, Ted was laughing hysterically, clutching his backpack.

For some reason, he was enjoying this. Sarah, on the other hand, was frightened.

“Faster!” Ted urged. “I want to see the beach now!”

Sarah whimpered as Ted rocked around the car, hissing this way and that; applying insane pressure from the backseat. He was super crazy; she saw that now and wanted nothing more than to be rid of him.

Finally, they arrived at a beach in San Diego. It was a beach you could drive into and Sarah was only too glad to have found this particular one. If anyone would blow up, she definitely wouldn’t be the only one. And if there was any form of escape, she could solicit a rescue. Ted halted her before she drove further. There were a few persons on the beach, enjoying a picnic underneath the sunset skies.

“Wait here!” Ted said, slipping out of the vehicle.

Sarah sat in the driver's seat, afraid for her life and unsure what to do.  She watched this surreptitiously evil character approach the water, holding his hands in the air like he had rediscovered life; and then out of the blue…

“What the fuck?”

Ted stripped himself of all his hippie clothes and ran like a happy child into the waters. In a daze, Sarah stepped out of her car to watch this lunatic swim about the waves, naked as a newborn baby.

And then suddenly, Ted turned and smiled; like someone free from prison. “Come join me!” he said.

Oh no, you crazy person! Sarah flew back into her car, reversed the vehicle, and sped out of that beach as fast as she came in. She knew exactly where she was headed, but chose the farthest one for safe measure. The lunatic’s bag was still in her vehicle. If it was truly a bomb, she had to turn it to the safest police station in town—LA.

An hour later, Sarah flung herself into the Los Angeles Police department with a purple backpack. On entry, she was given a somewhat strange look. But she didn’t care, this was a matter of life and death. She walked to the front desk and found a very impatient officer punching some things into a computer.

“To file a report, fill this form and take a seat. A—”

“But—“ said Sarah.

The female officer looked up, clearly irritated. She repeated her words. “Fill this form, take a seat and an officer will be with you shortly.”

So Sarah grabbed the form, and it was the longest form she ever had to fill. Fifteen minutes later, she was done detailing the event and waited patiently for an officer to attend to her. But the waiting time dragged on, and Sarah began to feel angry. What if the bomb had some sort of timer? She wanted to open the bag and check, but that would contaminate the evidence; so she calmed herself and waited some more.

Then the officer at the front desk stood. Finally; but instead of attending to Sarah, she walked up to the television and turned on the volume. Soon, a host of officers walk in to watch the news with her. They start to laugh quite comically. So Sarah approached the television, intrigued by the whole unseriousness—in a police station for that matter!

And the news was a heart-shattering one. Right there on Channel 10 was live coverage of a naked man running in and around San Diego traffic. Sarah watched keenly as first responders chase and put the assailant in cuffs. Now, this was very interesting news as you don’t get to see this every day. But to Sarah, it was a victory lap.

They’ve caught Ted.

Just as Sarah started smiling, the reporter turned abruptly to the camera and begins to say, “The San Diego Police have caught a naked traffic violator, a man they believe to be Ted Hoppins, a recently escaped patient from the psychiatric rehab center in Delhi, California. Ted has been missing for approximately 3 days; today marks the end of the search for one less lunatic in California.”

The officers all have a laugh, and then one of them turned to Sarah, who was stunned clueless. “Here to file a report?”

“Uh…” Sarah stammered. “No, thank you.”

Without a word, she hurried to her car, eager to see what was within the lunatic’s bag. She gasped when she found the item hidden within.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Ted didn’t have any bombs or explosives; in fact, there were no weapons in his backpack. All he had was a simple accessory:

A pair of black leather boots.

What a lunatic…

Sarah had never felt so stupid in her life.

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