The Traveller


Tom Welland, let the cigarette slip from his lips, as the wind caught hold of it. The half smoked butt flew into the air and landed far behind on the darkening road.

The Impala roared on down the road, the hood down, the wind a welcoming presence to Tom, as he felt his face might melt from the smoldering heat of the Nevada desert. His old Impala had served him well, but the air conditioning no longer worked and the engine was constantly getting clogged and overheating from the sandy air.

He didn't care, clogging engines and sweltering heat were the furthest things from his mind. His memory was clouded with dark memories of what he had left behind. He was slowly in the process of filtering out those memories until there was nothing left but a clean slate.

Evening was turning into night slowly, the sun had already disappeared beyond the distant cliffs, and Tom had flicked on the Impala's high beams. The heat was still as bad as ever though, even with no sun. Tom didn't understand how anyone could live here comfortably. He was glad to be here though, away from what he'd left behind, away from the mess.

In the seat next to him a closed leather bag, similar to a doctor's bag, held bundles of hundred dollar bills, filled to the brim. In the back seat, a mix of different items: a leather jacket, a suitcase filled with clothes, a pamphlet on Las Vegas casinos, and an item that was out of place amongst the array. A small sewn rag doll, similar to one a little girl might clutch to her chest.

The doll was sat proped up against the seat facing the front, as though along for the ride. Tom glanced in his rearview at the doll, and grimmaced. He just couldn't tear his eyes away from the lifeless eyes of the child's toy. He closed his eyes and looked away slowly.

When he opened his eyes there was suddenly a figure in the road in front of him, his headlights washed over it. Tom slammed on the breaks and the Impala's back end slid a little sideways as the car skidded to a stop. The figure was frozen in the road watching the hulking mass of car hurtling towards it. When the car finally stopped inches away the figure looked it over and then moved across the high beams to the other side of the road.

A fox, a stupid fox. Tom let out a rush of air as he realized he had been holding his breath. He slammed the steering wheel of the car as the fox made it to the other side of the road slowly. Tom sat back and watched as the small creature looked back at him for a few minutes, before running off across the desert.

"Well at least he won't press charges," Tom said aloud to no one.

It was meant to relieve tension but Tom didn't find it particularly funny once he had said it. He reached for the keys to start the car again, as the sudden break had stalled it out. He turned the keys and the car revved, but never turned over.

Tom grumbled something about the sand and turned the keys again. The car once more revved but never caught. Tom tried once more and as the car continued revving he finally let go of the keys and slammed the steering wheel again in anger.

"GOD-DAMMIT! Are you going to front the bill for this too?" he yelled out to the, now disappeared, fox.

Of course there was no reply, but a soft breeze as Tom leaned back again and stared at the sky. He counted the stars slowly as they came out, to relieve the frustration that had built. He remembered his Dad showing him how to do this when he was just a young boy.

Tom looked back down at the ground again, and down the road. A sign just a few yards down the road caught his eye. It was one of those neon signs, so they must have just turned it on, as he didn't remember seeing it before.

The Sahara Inn; it was the perfect name to a sleezy joint out here in the middle of nowhere. There was a smaller word shining underneath in blue: Vacancy. He grabbed his suitcase and the bag in the front seat decidedly, and got out of the car. He was about the close the door when he stopped and waited for a moment thinking.

He reached back in the car, grabbed his jacket and the doll and then slammed the door. Slipping the doll into the bag of money, he tucked the jacket under his arm and began to walk down the long road towards the highway motel, arduously carrying both bags in each hand.

The End

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