Rose slows down to a walk when the driver’s door opens and a young man gets out and walks to the rear of the van to meet her. He is wearing jeans and a white tunic.

“I’m going to Ohio,” Rose tells him.

“Take you as far as Missouri.” Matt has long hair and a necklace of wood beads. He and Rose shake hands. “I’m Matt.”

“I’m Rose.” Matt ushers her to the van’s sliding door and opens it. Strains of Danny Hutton, vocalist with Three Dog Night, reached her ears, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…”

Another young, long-hired man is sitting in the front seat. He turns down the radio then nods as he is introduced. “This is Curt.”

There are no seats in the rear of the van. A young man and a young woman are sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor amongst bedrolls and backpacks. The dark-skinned man is wearing a headband around his forehead and his short, black, textured hair. “This is Lenny and Mary.”

Rose introduces herself while settling down on the floor next to Mary. 

As the van takes off, Curt offers Rose a half-full gallon of water. She accepts it gratefully. “Thank you, I am thirsty.” Rose takes a drink, and hands the water to Mary. “I appreciate you guys stopping for me.”

“You doing okay?” Mary gives Rose a sympathetic look. 

“Oh I’m still right. Had kind of a bad experience, but I’ll get over it.”

“Why are we in such pain?” Mary asks and takes a drink of water.

Rose slowly shakes her head. Curt chimes in, “We are fodder for the draft! How can you have self-esteem when your government wants to put you on the front lines of a meaningless war?” 

Lenny accepts the water gallon from Mary. “You guys are a bunch of flag burning, draft dodging hippies!” Then he takes a drink and hands the gallon to Matt.

Curt twists in his chair to face Lenny. “So you went to Vietnam, Lenny, and stayed on the beach the whole time! Not everyone is so lucky!” 

Matt takes a drink, still keeping an eye on the road and a hand on the wheel, then hands the nearly empty water jug to Curt. “My good friend, Jason, came back with serious injuries and brain-damage. He’s in the VA.”

Mary added, “My husband came back dead!”

“I did my part for the good old USA, saw my share of action. Did it for you, Curt, whether you appreciate it or not.”

“Not for me,” asserts Curt, “We are picking on a poor country so the weapons manufacturers can make a profit. That’s who you did it for, the arms dealers! Not for me! You did it for the weapons freaks! Not the peace lovers!”

“Your lack of gratitude doesn’t make my sacrifice any less meaningful.”

Mary gives him a hug, her pale skin and auburn hair contrasting with his. “I appreciate you, Lenny!”

They ride on in silence for awhile. Mary reclines on the carpeted floor of the van. Lenny and Rose follow suit, one on each side of her.

“Where are you guys going?” Rose asks Mary.


“Are you going with them too, Lenny?”

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I?”

“The whole world isn’t like California, you know!” Rose had noticed the van’s California license plate.

“Lenny’s mother and our mother, Matt’s, Curt’s and mine, are doing a church project in Nashville. We’re going to bring our mothers back to LA.

“What about you?”

“I left my husband in Akron, Ohio because he had gotten himself in trouble and it looked like he was going to be doing some time. But it has been several months. His lawyer keeps postponing the sentencing, so I want to be with him until then.”

Mary rubs Rose’s shoulders. “You’re tense, Rose!”

“That feels good!”
“Would you like a tarot reading?”

“You have tarot cards?”

Mary reaches for a colorful cloth backpack and pulls out an oversized but thin deck of cards. “Right here….  The reading I do is called the Horoscope Spread. I lay out 12 cards in a circle, one for each of the 12 houses of an astrological chart.” Mary shuffles the deck and Rose picks a small handful from the top of the deck and lays them down next to the rest. Mary moves those to the bottom and lays down the first card from the top of the deck. 

“Oh no,” laughs Rose, “the Devil!”

“The first house, like the sign of Aeries, is about your identity, your face, your self expression. The Devil means, ‘self indulgence or addiction.'”

“So my identity is self indulgence. Can’t wait to see what the rest of my spread is like!”

Mary lays down the second card below and to the right of the first one.

“Ah, that’s better, the Star.”

“Yes the Star, signifying cleansing and healing in the second house, personal resources, possessions and money, analogous to the sign of Taurus.”


Mary lays down a third card below and to the right off the second one.


“Justice and truth in the third house, communication, Gemini. Very good, Rose, you are a just and honest communicator.”

“Yes, and with my self image gone to the Devil!”

Mary lays down the fourth card directly to the right of the third. 

“Wheel of fortune! Am I a gambler?” 

“The card means luck, change, destiny. It could mean risk-taking. The fourth House (Cancer, not the disease) refers to your domestic situation with your parents, or possibly with your children.” 

“Hmm, I did leave my parents not too long ago.”

The fifth card got placed above and to the left of the fourth card.

“Oh Strength, she is holding the jaws of a lion!” 

“Yes, the card signifies balance, strength and courage. The fifth house (Leo) refers to your creativity and your capacity for romance, also procreation. Looks like you are pretty solid in those areas!”

“I haven’t seen any wands or pentacles.”

“That’s right, we’re using just the Trump cards.”

The sixth card is laid above and to the right of the fifth one, completing the bottom half of the semi-circle of cards.. “The Emperor. Looks like he can take care of business!”

“Yes, he can. The Emperor card signifies authority. The sixth house, Virgo, refers to your health and your service to others. It’s a good reading for you.”

The seventh card is laid directly above the sixth. “Oh no, another negative card! Death, this could be bad!”

“Not necessarily. It doesn’t mean you’re going to die any time soon. It signifies a change, a transition. The seventh house, Libra, refers to your significant relationship or relationships, possibly a significant enemy. Perhaps there was a change or there will be one soon.”  


The eighth card is laid above and to the left of the seventh. “How sweet, the Lovers!”

“Yes, and in the eighth house, Scorpio. The lovers signify love, sex and health. The eighth house is about your primal life force. Sometimes it is about money from unexpected sources.”

The ninth card is laid to the left and above the eighth. “The Chariot!”

“The Chariot signifies skill and action. The ninth house, Sagittarius, is about study and long distance travel, a good pairing of card to house.”

The tenth card is placed directly to the left of     the ninth. “Oh that’s creepy, the Hanged Man. He is not being killed just hanging by one foot.”

“It is a card of surrender, of yielding to someone of something. The tenth house, Capricorn, is about profession and work ethic.”

The eleventh card is placed to the left and below the tenth. “The Sun!”

“The sun signifies life, energy, growth and clarity. The eleventh house (Aquarius) is about friends and associates, your social life.”

The twelfth card is placed directly above the first. “Wow, the Empress. I had the Emperor, now I’ve got the Empress!”

“The Empress signifies abundance and creativity. The twelfth House, Pisces, is about your overall karma, hidden resources, motivations and events.”

Mary laid a thirteenth card in the center of the circle. “This is the overview, the theme, of the reading.” 

“The Moon!”

“Signifies cycles, emotion, sometimes confusion.”

“Wow, that was really good! Let me just study it for awhile.”
Later that evening, the travelers are gathered around a campfire. Rose is playing her guitar.

Rose sings, “I thumbed a ride on the old highway, thought hitchhiking was free,

“But the geezer said, ‘By taking this ride you got to have sex with me!’

“So joke it off and laugh it off, let it all go up in steam!  

“My friends, let’s sing, dance and play and make a better dream!”

Curt sings, “I went to the recruiters office, he said, ‘You’re fine you’ll do,

“’Got an M16 and seven grenades right here just for you!’”

All sing, “So joke it off and laugh it off, let it all go up in steam!  

 “My friends, let’s sing, dance and play and make a better dream!”

Lenny sings, “Had orders to go to Vietnam to serve the USA.

“When I got there it was a football game, pick a side and shout, ‘hooray!’”

All sing, “So joke it off and laugh it off, let it all go up in steam!  

 “My friends, let’s sing, dance and play and make a better dream!”

Mary sings, “The very first time I had sex was on my wedding night.

“When it was over in two minutes, we got into a fight!”

All sing, 

“So joke it off and laugh it off, let it all go up in steam!  

“My friends let’s sing, dance and play and make a better dream!”

Matt plays his saxophone with a rhythmic pulse while the others dance. Rose puts down down the guitar and dances with abandon.

Lenny comments to Mary, “So he was a premature Jack.You never told me that before. That must have been really hard on you.”

“Yes it was, but he loved me and he tried. I shouldn’t have sung those lyrics. Rose, can you play those chords again? I want to sing another verse.”

“Of course.”

“My husband died in Vietnam, and I miss him still. 

“His loss shocked and saddened me, and it always will!”
Back in the van, Mary is driving and Rose is sitting up front beside her. Rose turns and addresses Matt, “I enjoyed your horn. How long you been playing?” 

“About 7 years.” 

Then after a pause he adds, “You know the sax was invented about 100 years ago. A lot of amazing things happened 100 years ago, really. The telegraph was invented. The steamship, the train, and the car were developed. Then came the airplane. Photography was developed and then the phonograph and the telephone. The bicycle was improved and the factory assembly line used chains and gears for manufacturing efficiency.”

 “Some big changes started 100 years ago,” echos Rose.

Mary adds, “Yes it really is amazing how many of our everyday objects and devices had their inceptions about a hundred years ago.”

“There is no need anymore for divisions among us based on religion, race, ethnic group, status, or class. Humanity is one!” (Curt)

“Try that in the real world, there are hierarchies  everywhere you turn!” 

“But its changing, Lenny, it’s a new dawn! It’s a new day! Change is coming! It’s just barely starting and hard to see yet” 

“I think you’re dreaming, Curt. You don’t have a good grasp on reality! In this world the mean get meaner and the weak get weaker!” 
Around mid-morning the van is parked by a sign indicating St. Louis one way and Nashville another.  The passengers get out of the van and everyone hugs Rose in turn. All but Rose get back in the van, then the van takes off toward Tennessee.

The Hitch-Hiker, Part 1

The Hitch-Hiker, Part 3

The Hitch-Hiker, Part 4

Dear Editor, Publisher, Producer or Director, you can reach me at


3 thoughts on “THE HITCH-HIKER, Part 2

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