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Highway 72...Critique wanted.

Posted to Action Poetry




some of my new story...enjoy.


The screams came from nowhere, yet they echoed throughout the night. Travis could
hear them all. The screams from the men, women, and children reverberated in his mind
as if they were coming from an unseen building near by, but there was no one in his sight
as he walked along the cold, dark Highway 72. He was ninety miles from his destination
and the night became steadily colder.
It was about midnight, as far as he could tell; he thought he had been walking for
more than two hours, which would put the time around midnight. The fire was still
bur9ing bright, he thought, unless the flames had been seen by he neighbors ten miles
away-- “No! No one saw me!” he screamed into the night. “Yes, I’m fucking sure...if I
wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t have left yet!”--and someone called the fire department. Either
way, they got what they deserved and he would sleep soon.
As he walked on, he let his mind slip back to a few hours ago:
There was no one watching the entrance, which was odd--almost prophetic. He
took this oversight as a sign of fate and entered the house unseen. He walked through
the corridors of the house watching the people move around without shame. He was
stopped only once, by a girl no older than fourteen.
The girl led Travis up a flight of stairs and down a hallway lit only by a sinle
incandescent light bulb hanging limply from a brown, water-stained ceiling on the end of
worn cord. The girl, Missy, hit the bulb open fisted as she passed and Travis ducked
under it. He glanced back at the bulb and knew that he had found the right place.
“Hey, buddy,” called a driver, “need a ride?” A semi had been stopped on the
side of the road and the driver, a fat, balding man by the name of Spencer, was standing
beside the passenger side door. He called out to Travis again. Travis, weary from
walking in the cold darkness stopped, turned, and stared blankly at the man.
“Need a ride?”
“Sure. How far can you take me?” Travis asked noticing the driver’s face as they
walked toward each other.
“Well, it depends. How far do ya need t’go?” asked the driver as he walked back
to the truck and opened the door for his passenger.
“Not far, just to the next city,” he replied climbing into the large semi truck. The
interior, Travis noticed, was covered in dust and dirt, as if the driver had driven through a
dust storm with the windows down. He ran his left index finger down the vinyl seat with
a loud squeech. The truck rocked sideways a little as the driver plopped onto his seat.
Travis noticed that hte driver was as the interior, dusty. Travis felt odd as the truck was
thrown into gear.
A few moments later, the driver glanced at Travis and said, “So, why would ya be
out walkin’ this late a nigh’?” Travis noticed an indistinct glare in the driver’s pale gray
eyes, almost yearning for something that Travis didnÂ’t know. A voice in TravisÂ’s
thoughts told him what to say:
“My car broke down a few miles back and I was just going to the next town to
stop for the night and get some help in the morning.” An odd sense of deja vu overcame
Travis as he stared straight ahead at the dust-smeared windshield. The driver didnÂ’t say
anything else about TravisÂ’s car or the red stains on his thin jacket.
“You might try getten some res, the next town in’t for a couple a’hours.” At that,
Travis leaned his head against the rattling window and fell into unconsciousness.
Travis could hear people moving around behind the closed doors we walked by.
The girl, he noticed, was wearing only enough to cover her chest and hips. She walked
to the end of the hall and stopped by an open door and walked in . Travis followed and
closed the door behind him.
The room was dingy and in need of cleaning. “What’s your name?” she asked
him. Travis didn’t reply, he simply looked at the teenage girl in amazement. “Sit.” She
was pointing to a cheep, plaid sofa against the wall to his right. Travis sat down and
looked around the room: there was a small table at the right side of the sofa and a
tattered coffee table in the center of the room; the carpet was stained and dirty, as were
the walls upon which hung inexpensive prints of clown faces purchased from a garage
sale. Directly in front of him, on the opposite side of the room, there was a
medium-sized, four-paned window.
The girl took something from her head and here light brown hair fell to her waist.
She walked over to Travis and sat next to him.
“What do you want?” she asked. Again Travis didn’t answer, he only looked at
her face. He noticed a tired look in the girlÂ’s eyes; they looked as if they had seen many
people in this room. He felt pity for the girl and wanted to help.
“No, I can’t,” he whispered to himself. “She’s too young.”
“Huh” the girl said with a nervous look on her face. “What do you want? Ten
for this (she said pointing to her mouth) and fifty to go all the way.” Travis opened his
wallet and took out a fifty-dollar bill and laid it on the cushion beside him. In the next
moment, the girl threw her legs ove TravisÂ’s lap and seductively took off her shirt.
As the girl started to unbutton his pants, Travis did not notice his right hand
gliding over the slight curve of the young girlÂ’s breasts, nor did he notice his left tightly
gripping her neck.