56. I've Thumbed My Last Ride.

   1.I stood in the cold rain near Oklahoma City, trying to thumb a ride home for the weekend. Cars kept speeding by. Without knowing it, I was playing a dangerous game. And the car that finally stopped was just the same as a loaded gun.
   2.The guy in the Buick opened the door.” Crawl in-you'll get wet out there."
   3.He had a two or three days' growth of beard. I guess that was the first thing I saw. He was driving a nice car. I expected him to look better. He glanced at me as he pulled back on the road.
   4."Where you headed?"
   6.He drove on without saying anything for a while, a slight frown on his face as if he were thinking.
   7."How far is that from Clinton?"
   8.I didn't know, I told him. It was quite a ways, since Clinton is west of Oklahoma City and Frederick is about 150 miles southwest. He mentioned Clinton another time or two as we drove along. It didn't make too much sense to me. If he was interested in going to Clinton, he was certainly taking an odd way.But it was none of my business. As long as he was headed in the direction I wanted to go, I was willing to ride.
   9.When we came to the next highway, though, he turned west, onto 37. That wasn't the way I usually went. I didn't say anything. There were several routes. Then we passed through Tuttle, and still he kept heading west.
   10.The route was getting a little too roundabout for me. I wanted to make time on the trip home. I made plans to stop at the next town. He was going somewhere at a pretty good clip. Something about his manner made me hesitate to ask where. He hadn't said anything for a while. Suddenly he glanced my way.
   11."You know the back roads into Clinton?" my stomach felt funny. I found myself staring at that beard again. "No," I said. "I'm not going in that direction. I've got to go south, through Chickasha."