John woke up well after the sun had risen above the horizon. Looking out his westward facing window, he was able to see the sun high in the air. John pulled his body from the bed and looked through the drawers of the wooden dresser. Sifting through piles of magazines and books, John was able to find several pieces of clothing that may have been stylish twenty years ago. The clothes, once worn, fit John impeccably. He noted this with some surprise.
"Bill was right about the fit," thought John.
While glancing at his clothing in the mirror, John noticed the distinctive aroma of home cooked food. He followed his nose throughout the house and finally came to the dining room. Across the tiled floor, John could see Mrs. Hodge busy at the stove. Behind her sat Bill, with his head hidden behind a newspaper. Every once in a while, an arm would appear from behind the paper, grab the mug of coffee sitting on the table, and replace it a few seconds later.
The distinctive click of John’s boots shook Bill from his position at the table. Mr. Hodge, placing his newspaper on the table, greeted Turner with a hearty "Good morning!" John smiled at this exclamation and returned the salutation.
As Bill's spouse turned to face the visitor, John spoke.
"Mrs. Hodge, I presume?"
"Why, yes, but you can call me Martha. Bill has told me a lot about you."
"Did he tell you how he saved me from the desert?"
Exchanging knowing glances with her husband, Martha said "He may have told me once or twice." Bill smiled and returned to his newspaper. Martha continued to speak but was cut off by the sound a tea kettle whistle on the stove.
"How about we talk more over breakfast?" asked Mrs. Hodge.
"Sounds great." said John.
Lifting a pan from the stove, Martha began to pile strips of bacon and pancakes on John’s plate. He noticed the growing pile of food on his plate but did not motion for Mrs. Hodge to stop. After some minutes, the woman stopped piling John’s plate and served Bill. Once Bill's plate was piled with food also, Martha sat down on one of the chairs.
“So what brings you way out here?” Bill asked.
“Well,” John replied, “I’m on break, and I’ve always wanted to see this part of the country.”
“Break from school?”
“Break from everything.”
“Ah.” John could tell that Bill didn’t completely understand.
“Back home in Maryland, my father was really strict. He ran our household like a boot camp and treated my sisters and I like grunts. Eventually my mother got sick of it and left us. I got sick of it a few years later and left too.”
"And your sisters?" asked Mrs. Hodge.
"They were enrolled in college by that time."
“So what have you-” Mr. Hodge thought long and hard about the words he wanted to say. "What have you done since you went your own way?"
“I’ve taken a few odd jobs in the past year or so: busking in Memphis, pumping gas in Tulsa, bussing tables in Amarillo. Eventually I scraped enough greasy plates to buy an old truck and I’ve been traveling around the country ever since.”
John reached for the fork by his plate, but quickly looked back up at Bill.
“That reminds me, Bill, you don’t happen to have the number of the nearest repair shop do you? I need to get my truck back in working order before I try to hit the road again.”
“Don’t worry about that. Dave Bruner has a tow truck he can use to pull your vehicle into town. It’ll take a few hours though.”
“Thanks.” replied John.
“In the meanwhile,” Bill added, “You may want to look around town. We have a few shops and restaurants you might enjoy.”
John thanked the man and stood up from the table. After grabbing his wallet from the chestnut dresser, John left the house and set off towards town.