As had happened so many times before, Sam found himself behind the wheel of the red pickup truck. The road in front was straight as an arrow and the sky was clear and blue.
"Beautiful day." His mother said as Sam looked over and saw her sitting to his right.
"Hey mom, great day isn't it?"
"I'll have us home in no time." Sam's dad's voice cut in.
"Dad?" Sam squeaked as he looked over again and saw his father sitting between he and his mother.
"Move over son, let me drive."
"No dad, let me, it's safer dad."
"Oh don't be ridiculous." His father said and suddenly Sam felt himself sliding over and like a ghost he glided right through the truck door. But the sun and sky had gone; now it was night and raining.
"No no, this isn't right, Dad you've got to let me drive, please dad."
"Would you two stop fighting, you'll wake the baby." Sam's mother urged.
"Kenny? Oh Kenny." Sam started to cry. "Stop the car dad please dad....STOP!"
But it was too late, Sam saw the flash of the headlights as the other car crossed the median, he screamed and from his throat flowed the ripping and screeching of metal; the sound that never ends.
"AGH!" Sam bolted up in his sleeping bag just as a flash of lightning lit the small tent.
Dan was sleeping on his side, his back to Sam. He was torn from sleep by Sam's cry; he opened his eyes and listened to the storm. The tent was being blown hard and the lightning flashed all around. 'Don't tell me he's afraid of the lightning too.' Dan thought and as he listened he heard the whimpering crying sound of the boy next to him. Dan quietly rolled over and saw Sam sitting up in his sleeping bag.
"Sam?" he whispered softly.
"It's...it's okay, just the rain." Sam sobbed and turned his whole body away from Dan.
Dan could tell there was something else and wanting to help, so he pushed the subject. "Hey bud, did you have a bad dream?" He asked as he sat up and moved next to Sam, he hesitated for a moment then put his arm around Sam's shoulder. It felt like the right thing to do.
"Yeah...no...it's just the lightning, I guess it gave me a bad dream."
"What was it about?"
"I...ummm...Dan?...I..." Sam stuttered in obvious discomfort.
"Shh you don't have to tell me."
"I know, I'm sorry I woke you Dan." Sam whispered back.
"Don't be, we all have bad dreams, nothing to be ashamed of."
Dan sat silently for a few minutes, he just felt very comfortable and didn't really want to move, then..."Dan, I'm cold." Sam whispered and Dan was jarred back to thought "Oh I'm sorry." He said taking his arm off of Sam's shoulder and moving back to where his sleeping bag had been before so that Sam could pull his sleeping bag back up and warm himself.
Dan flopped back down on his back, he felt embarrassed for almost falling asleep with another boy in his arm...he quickly blamed it on sleepiness.
"You gonna be alright Bud?" He asked.
"I'll be fine, don't worry."
"Okay." Dan said as he rolled back onto his side and closed his eyes.
Dan's watch beeped mercilessly at 7:00 and after 10 minutes of hesitation he sat up, stretched, and nudged Sam to try to wake him but gave up as Sam was sound asleep.
Dan pulled on a coat and emerged from the tent. The rain had stopped hours before and the early morning sky looked clear but the ground was wet. He trudged past the burned out fire pit and up the rocks to a spot near the base of the cliff that he deemed appropriate to have a piss. Then he casually walked back to the camp and started packing up. As he worked he became much more aware of how small Sam's backpack was compared to his own. 'This isn't fair' Dan mumbled as he divided all the supplies by weight and packed them evenly into both bags. Then, when everything else was packed including his own sleeping bag, Dan stepped back into the tent.
"Wake up bud, err Sam, I need to put away the tent." Still there was no response. Dan tried again with no success. He didn't want to raise his voice and wake Sam, he looked so peaceful. Finally he sighed and lifted Sam and his sleeping bag up and carried him outside and propped him up against a rock. Then as he packed up the tent Sam woke up. "You kicked me out." He said sarcastically.
"Couldn't help it, you fart in your sleep." Dan grinned.
"No way." Sam protested.
"Yes way, now hurry up and get up...I've got everything packed and I'm just waiting for you. Oh, and I checked your clothes, they're dry cus they were hanging in the tent all night. I have them here, here you go." Dan said as he tossed Sam his clothes.
Sam caught the clothes and watched Dan finish packing. His mind started to work again, twice now he'd made up his mind about Dan and changed it. Now he was about to change it again. In the beginning he thought that he and Dan could become friends, then Dan proved to be an insensitive jerk, but now he was showing a glimmer of kindness and humanity and Sam decided once more that he wanted Dan as a friend. Sam sat and watched Dan working; exuding confidence the whole time.
As Dan sat on a rock by the river waiting for Sam to finish getting dressed and rolling up his sleeping bag he thought about his actions toward Sam that night, he'd called him 'bud' a name that he never used for anyone and he actually hugged Sam. 'Well not hugged hugged.' Dan thought, 'he was scared, I just made sure he was okay.' Dan continued thinking, a little voice was entering his head, 'you enjoyed it.' The voice whispered it's harsh words and Dan felt bad, he was worried that he might freak Sam out and for some reason that bothered him now.
"Hey, you ready to go?" Sam asked, breaking Dan's thinking.
"Oh. Yeah, ummm sure."
"Okay, well lead on then." Sam said.
Dan walked up stream until there was a shallow spot and he waded across.
"I noticed my bag was a little heavier this morning." Sam said.
"Really? Well I thought it would only be fair, we're a team right? Besides, a little extra exercise won't hurt you." No sooner were the words out of his mouth then Dan thought, 'God I sound like my mother.'
Beau finished pouring the antifreeze back into his car and was about to start cleaning up when his mother poked her head into the garage.
"Beau, phone." She said then thrust the phone into his hands.
"Hey. Oh hello Mrs. McKinnon. No actually. Yes I gave it to him, but you can't recharge it in the woods so he probably just wants to save it in case of an emergency. Oh really? Isn't technology amazing? Huh? Oh you should learn, computers aren't that bad once you get the hang of them. Yeah. Okay sure, what's the address?" Beau asked as he traced his dirty fingers across the garage floor and wrote down the website address that Dan's mom had just given him. "No problem. Yes, I want to know myself. Sure, as soon as I know. Okay, see you Mrs. McKinnon."
"Who was that dear?" Beau's mom asked as he hung up the phone in the kitchen.
"You should know, you answered it mom." Beau said grinning.
"I mean, what did she want?"
"She gave me an address that Dan left her so she can look up where he is on his journey, I guess she cant figure out how to use the computer so she asked me to give her an update. So I'm going to check on that as soon as I clean up in the garage."
"Did you get the car fixed?"
"Oh yeah, I changed the coolant pump and thermostat, she's as good as new...well, twenty years 'new' I guess."
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