Sentinel at the Off Ramp — Short Fiction by Dr. Agnew T. Pickens

He pissed in more roadside rest stop bathrooms than Kerouac, I suspect. I turned around along the I-40 in Oklahoma to pick him up on the 
previous exit where he had posted himself, wisely, at the top of the off
 ramp so he wouldn’t be harassed by the State Patrol. He asked if he
 could take his boots off and then spent the first three hours of our
 tour west apologizing for the smell of his feet. He said he was going to 
Vegas. In Albuquerque, we had to get off the I-40 and run through part of town. 
I bought him a six pack of something cheap but tasty and we followed
 Route 66 through New Mex a good part of the way toward Phoenix. In northern Arizona, outside Flagstaff, he asked if we could pull over at 
a scenic overlook, I half expected him to say he would be heading to 
Vegas from there. We stood and looked over a breathtaking view of the 
forested mountains, he was sipping one of his beers. Maybe it was the herds of elk on both sides of the Interstate south of 
Flagstaff, mating calls coming in waves and echoes through the car as we 
drove on that kept him from asking for the Vegas shortcut, maybe he just 
wanted to make sure I made it safely to the gas station in Central 
Phoenix where we parted ways. Two weeks later, I got a money order for $25 in the mail from him with 
an address in North Las Vegas and like the fool I am, I cashed it.       Dr. Agnew T. (Goldwater) Pickens is the pen name of Michael Veloff, a 2001 graduate of The Ohio State University at Mansfield.  He has been writing and blogging since the early days of MySpace, has participated in several online poetry discussion groups since then and has two self-published solo volumes of poetry (Space Christals/pub 2011 & The Emperor’s New Closet/2013).

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