I was beginning to think t would have been wise to wash my feet in a stream rather than in a sink in the Smart View picnic area bathroom, the isolated nature of which suddenly seemed much more stark and apparent in the wake of my first lifetime encounter with a such brazen solicitor of the flesh. Besides the building it was in, there was really nothing else there, save for the view. The whole Parkway, in fact, was really just one long heat-baked ribbon of programmed isolation, free of domiciles and power lines and cross streets, and was rapidly losing its eco-romantic appeal.
Anyway, I put my shoes back on and began shuffling up the Parkway once more. I tried to determine if I would make it to Roanoke before nightfall and figured I’d need to average about 5 MPH in order to achieve this. This, on average, was faster than a walking pace and I really didn’t feel like running any more that day, so I began to contemplate hitchhiking, something I’d done only a couple of times during my journey and for very brief stretches at that.
A few minutes later, a very familiar car pulled alongside. I looked over with a vaginiform grimace (not that this guy would be able to make the connection), jaded by this aging perv’s persistence. “Where you going?” he asked, something about him hangdog in the extreme. With his generally prosperous mien (the car was a late-model coupe and his clothes looked relatively new and clean) but his shirt untucked and his face eternally fixed in a Deputy Dawg expression, he really did look like a poster boy for sexual deviance. Punching him in the mouth would have been the guiltiest of all pleasures, really no more a source of resolution or pride than swatting a mosquito.
“This morning you were headed south, weren’t you?” he asked. I started. Indeed, when I had arisen that morning I had backtracked a half-mile so as to fill my water jug, and I was mildly aghast at the obvious implications of his query. Nevertheless I named my destination, continuing to trudge along, inwardly both chortling and bawling at a forgotten fantasy hatched in the dead of the previous night — one that revolved around my meeting some ultra-hot, mega-lonely and cartoonishly horny hiker chick out here in the Virginia wilds.
“I’m headed to Roanoke,” he said, predictably. “I can give you a ride.”
I thought about this. I wasn’t worried about harm that might come from unwanted advances so much as I was put off by the indignity and inconvenience of having to confront them, and for all I knew this guy might smash into a tree on purpose out of sheer spite. How the f*ck did I know? He might have had a gun. But I knew that chances were 99.44% that he was essentially a harmless and somewhat superannuated purveyor of anonymous gaiety who thrived on chance encounters even if they were not pursued with equal vigor by his quarry; with shameful arrogance, I decided he’d be pleased just to have my consensual company for a half-hour or so.
“All I want,” I said in measured if not harsh tones, “is a ride.” Even this was not an entirely safe statement, but my point, I knew, was clear.
“I understand,” he said, the corners of his mouth turned down.
For a moment I felt nothing but raw pity: How many times had he had the shit kicked out of him over the years as a result of his brazen behavior? How many times might he have tried to stop and wank away in the privacy of a home that was surely empty except for him and maybe a library of hairy-rump-oriented DVD’s and VHS tapes?
F*ck it. I got in the car, not exactly relaxed, and off we went.