Noah was nearing Machias, passing a line of a dozen cherry red tractors, soaking in the rain parked dormant on the side of the road when he saw the hitchhiker. His thumb was barely visible in the rain, but Noah could just make out the pink outline of it. He stepped on the brake and with a slight screech the car stopped at the side of the road, sloshing a bit of rainwater on each side of the car. He rolled down the window and as rain began to fall into the car and soak the interior he called out to the man.
“Where you headed?” he asked, raising his voice to compete with the pounding of the rain.
“Machias,” said the man, in a rough voice that was much to old for his face. He was tall, at least six five and looked strong to Noah, and tough. The jeans he wore had once been blue but now they were almost solid brown, covered in muddy stains. His purple sweatshirt was likewise stained, but the man didn’t seem to care. He was soaking wet and dripping but none of this deterred Noah, he didn’t care enough about the interior of his car to worry about water and mud,
“Hop in,” called Noah, clicking the button to unlock the passenger door. The man opened the door and climbed in, dropping his brown shoulder bag on the floor of the truck where it fell with a metallic clank. Noah thought about asking the contents, but decided against it.
“Thanks,” he said. His voice was like sandpaper, the voice of someone who has been through a lot, the voice of someone who could take abuse, the voice of someone not to fuck with. Noah almost regretted picking him up, but conversation to break the monotony overruled his fear.
“What’s your name?” asked Noah, pulling the car off the shoulder into the road.
“Leonardo. Leonardo Inson,” his face was youngish, not older then thirty, but also tired, the same weariness that was evident on Noah only a thousandfold increased. A raggedy, soaking beard covered his chin. Shining blue eyes glinted from under a mop of limp hair, and for a moment, at least to Noah, they looked lost, almost sad, but then it was gone and they were all steel, cold and unfeeling.
“Leo?” asked Noah.
“If you like,” said Leo, running a hand through his greasy hair, then looking at it. “Shit, I’m a mess,” Noah said nothing, concentrating on the road which was getting steadily harder and harder to see. “Where are you going? Just Machias, or farther?”
“Just Machias,” he said, “I’m going to apply for a job,” he paused. Leo said nothing, but gave a small grunt to show he understood, “What about you? Why are you going to Machias?”
“To fix something,” Leo said with a breathy sigh, “Something that needs to be fixed.” Noah waited for further elaboration but none came. He almost asked about it further but a look in Leo’s eyes told him not to. He couldn’t or wouldn’t tell Noah any more and nothing Noah said would change that.