Blackadder! well bless your heart, something I can relate to. Several years ago I drove a truck hauling furniture from Tijuana Mexico to Edmonton Alberta Canada. For the Canadian folk here I delivered to a huge warehouse called 'The Brick' The way things worked at the Mexico border was, I would unhook at the border and Some driver from the Mexican side would come and take my trailer across and bring it back when it was loaded. It was always an all day thing. This particular trip for me started very late. It was near midnight before I got my trailer back. Oh, it was hot that day! It was past midnight and it was still in the 90's. I was soaked with sweat just from the few minutes it took me to stand outside my airconditioned truck, sign for the load and get hooked up. Maybe it's just because of being used to where you live but that Mexican that brought my trailer back to me had not a drop on his brow after unhooking. Always a diffrent driver, the one coming after my trailer and the one bringing it back. I never spoke any Spanish or neither any of them spoke english so we just kind of grunted at each other. I was on I-15 headed north towards San Diego. It was actually Sunday morning when I got started and the freeway was nearly deserted. After about 20 minutes on the road I came up on this guy hitching a ride. Although I drove for an independant and picking up riders was not encouraged, I did do it from time to time. I felt sorry for this guy. When I passed him I could see he was in tatters. He wore a long dark overcoat that was just in shreds. I thought it strange that he was dressed so warm with as hot as it was. The thing that caught my eye first was that he was barefoot. The bottom of His feet just shone when my headlights hit him as he lifted his feet in step. Yea, I know it was not a very smart thing to do as all the signs pointed toward psycho. But, I pulled my truck over to the side and waited for him. I had this little single shot 12 gauge shotgun (I believe the term is sawed-off) It was about 13 inches overall. It had a homemade pistol grip and a hole that the thumb went through for added control when this mini cannon popped off it's 000 loads. It had carved into the grip on oneside 'Old Grandad' an on the other side 'The Last Laugh' If I was ever confronted by a gang in California I wanted to know at least I was going to take several of them with me with that one shot. I kept it in a custom built holster on the left lower side of my drivers seat. Whitch of course I had to move to a more reclusive location when called in at weigh stations or stopped by the Law and such. This man took a good three minutes to reach my truck after I had come to a stop. I had my hand on 'Old Grandad' when he popped the passsenger door open. This man was old! He was a black man with deep vertical ruts in his face an tired yellow looking eyes. I would guess he was every bit at the very least 80. Hey old timer! Crawl on up in here I said and get off your feet. What hit me as super strange right off? was the mans smell. I had picked up men before and most of them smelled so bad I had to run with the windows down and just jumped at any chance to pull over and let them out. I just knew that because of the heat and how he was dressed that he was going to be ripe! Nothing! The man had no scent at all that I could detect. He thanked me for stopping and the ride began...............
I didn't put my old freightliner in gear right away. I needed just a few seconds of chat before I felt myself comfortable enough to go down the road with this old gentleman in my truck . There he sat, just staring down the road and holding onto a little what looked like to be a small black leather change purse. Where you headed? North he said. Ok, I told him he was welcome to ride with me until it came daylight. I told him my name and I ask him his. I go by many names he said. ok, How about the one you are going by today. Zebidiah, you can call me Zebidiah. I ask him how old he was and he told me he didn't know for sure. Last he could remember before bustin' out he said, I was 79. But that was a lot of years ago he said. Busting out I said! Your not wanted by the police are you old timer? No, I done busted out of the old folks home. Well how long you been away from there? ( I was worried that maybe it had been recent and I might be carrying around an old fugitive) three, four summers ago he said. From around here? No, back east he said. I then got into telling him that he should be somewhere where people could take care of him. Someplace where he could lay his head an feel safe. Safe! he said. You think them old folk homes be safe? Well, seems to me it would be a heap better then wondering where I am going to lay my head down that night, wondering Wheather or not I was going to wake up or have my head bashed in for the dollar I might have in my pocket. Them places is rotten boy! he said. Don't you ever put anyone in there that you love. They put the dope to you everynight to knock you out and those who won't take it soon wish they would have. Got to dope you up again in the morning to bring you out of that chemical induced stupor they put you in the night prior to keep you quiet. Nasty, evil place he said. I had rather spend the rest of my life out here sleeping in the dirt then spend one minute in they nice soft bed. I had to get him off this as he was just going on and on and getting more and more worked up. You got a wife, any children I asked? I outlived my wife & three sons and two daughters, they all dead from old age, sickness, accidents and one thing or the other he said. I got nobody he said, all alone in the world. I just got quiet after that and it wasn't long and I saw him stuffing his little change purse into an inside pocket of his coat. Soon after that the old man was asleep.
When I got to Las Vagas the sun was up and I was ready for breckfast. As I was pulling into the truck stop I was just about to give the old guy a poke when he opened his eyes. Morning old timer! You hungery I asked. Oh yeah he said, but I don't have any money. I didn't say anything about the coin purse I saw him with, I just told him that was fine and that I was buying. Now that it was light I could get a better look at the man. I was right and he was barefoot, bald and not a tooth in his mouth . I said, hey man! Your feet are a mess! and they were, all swollen, cracked and messed up! Damn I said, How is it that you can stand to walk on that hot pavement with your feet in that kind of shape. He said he couldn't really feel anything from the knees down anyway. I couldn't handle that, I reached back into my sleeper and gave him some baby wipes and some talcum powder. I said here, open that door up and hang them feet outside an clean them feet up and talc em down good. I gave him a new pair of socks and a pretty good pair of tennis shoes. They were about a size to big for him but it sure beat the heck out of nothing I said, he agreed and big ole tears started rolling down his face. I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him if he was alright. Been a long time since anyone been this nice to me. Think nothing of it I said. I won't ever forget it, never! he said. As he put his socks an shoes on I asked him How come it is that you don't have any shoes anyway. I wore them out crossing Mexico. You walked across Mexico I asked? Most of it he said. Well I had to know why it was that he came to be in mexico. Ship went down in the Gulf, not much else I could do he said. What! your not making much sense old timer and your kind of freaking me out. Lets go get some breakfast, maybe your blood sugar is low and your mind isn't working quite like it should. Quite snappy he replied, My mind is working just as well as it ever did he said and if it's all the same to you I'll just sit here and wait on you. I told you that I don't have the price of breakfast anyway. And I told him that, I said I was buying so lets go. On the way in I told him that if I put on some fuel here, even though I don't need it, we could get a free shower. Naw! Showers give me pneumonia he said. Oh good greif! I said. Well, I tell you what. Do you want to go any farther with me I ask? I would kind of like that he said, if it would be ok. The only way you are going any farther with me is if you get a shower, I told him that he didn't stink but he wasn't going to start either.
We had a good meal and this little old man ate three times the amount of food that I did, he flat raided that buffet.
I took him to the fuel desk and told the clerk that this man needs some towels and a shower while I fuel. She took him back and showed him his room. I went and got the truck and put on a little fuel. When I came back in I noticed they had a couple racks of clothes (truck stops often do) I just guessed at the mans size and put a couple pair of pants and two or three short sleeve work shirts and a package of boxer shorts on my fuel ticket and told the clerk to ring this up as oil and antifreeze or showing something other then what it is. No problem she said. I grabed a stick of deoderant and a couple disposable razors from the cab of my truck and took it back and knocked on the door. He opened and peeked out and I handed it all to him. You put this stuff on and leave what you are wearing in the trash, you understand? He just nodded yes and closed the door.
Now don't get me wrong folks, as I never made it a habit of taking in bums/transients and the like and making them over. Or was I happy with myself deceiving my employer by falsifiying fuel purchases for items other then fuel. I just felt the old man was worth it and deserved a break, as this will prove to be so..........
I went back out and sat where he could see me when he came out. I had a smoke and thumbed through a copy of truckers weekly when the old man came out. He had a smile on his face and somewhat of a bounce in his step. Rubbing his collar on his new blue work shirt between his thumb and forefinger. I sure do thank you trucker he said, but I sure got no way to pay you back. That's alright old timer, no charge. You ready to roll? You bet he said. We made our way out to the truck where I had to catch up my log book and enter my fuel purchase into my trip envelope. We were on our way again and the old timer just talked and talked and talked. I told him I wanted to know more about that ship thing he mentioned. He went into how he was on an off shore oil rig for years, then how he crab fished off the coast of Alaska . He said he owned his own boat and searched for treasure for about twenty years. Aw, you wouldn't be pulling my leg about any of this would you old man? No, he said. Gods honest truth. You said your boat sank. Yeah, bucket of acid fell over in the hold and ate a hole about the size of your head in it. Did all your crew make it off. He said there wasn't but three of us and we all made it. Coast guard came and put us in their boat and brought us to shore. How far were you out into the water I asked. About a hundred miles. Did you come out alright on your loss? Nope, insurance cheated me out of a settlement. I didn't get into that with him as I could see that it made him quite upset. Did you have any treasure on board when it went down? I kind of said jokingly. Oh yea he said, enough to make many men rich, many times over. Lost it all? Almost he said. I got a little buried under a rock in the Mohave desert he said. Cool I said, best get that and put it in a bank. I don't trust banks he said, bunch of thieves. Don't you realize that they add to it as interest when your money in in their bank? He said, I lived through the crash boy and harder times than you could ever imagine. Them damn banks go down and your money is no longer in there, you can bet your momma that my money will still be under that rock when you are broke. Yea, good point I guess. By the time I got to Salt lake I was ready for a nap. The old guy was already asleep when I pulled into the flying J truck stop. I went in and got me a quick snack and brought the old guy out a sandwich. When I came back out he was still asleep. I put his sandwich and a small chocolate milk on the dash where he could see it when he woke up. I slipped off my boots and crawled back in the sleeper. I woke up about five hours later and could see that he had ate his sandwich and drank his milk. I could see him from the sleeper. He was bent over in the seat and had a small wooden crucifix in his hands. I was pretty sure that the old man was praying as I could see his lips moving. I just lay there quite for about another 10 minutes or so until I was sure he was finished. I sat up on the edge of my bunk and he said, Man you sure do snore loud and thank you for the sandwich and milk. I moved to the drivers seat and took my log book in hand to catch it up. I told him that I saw him there with his face in his hands, are you ok I ask? Look like you might have been praying. Yea he said, I was. You see, I get these horrible headaches that are so painful I can't describe them. They make me go blind until they are gone. Well have you been to a Doctor with this? Don't trust Doctors. Old man! from what I have learned from you in these few hours you don't seem to trust anyone. This world might be a little better place for you if you would accept some help from someone. I said, you seem to have put some trust in me and let me help you some. Why don't you go see a Doctor about that. I don't have any insurance he said. You got any military under your belt I asked. Yep, fought in iwo jima in the United States Marine Corps. What! Do you get a pension? no, No! I said, do you realize that you can get health care for nothing? No he said. Well, there you go . If you were not so bitter towards everyone you could have probably been drawing some money from the Government and getting free health care and a decent place to stay. I don't want any handouts from the Government. It's not a hand out old man! These things are owed to you . The Government don't owe me nothing he said. Well damn it old man! You don't make a lick of sense and you are just a hard headed old man and your stubbornness is just about to piss me off. I continued, no doubt there is an outstanding veterans hospital here in Salt Lake and you ought to let me look it up and take you there. Another old folks home, that's all it would be and I told you I want no part of it. I asked him if he wanted out here in Salt Lake. No, I need to get a bit farther north if it's all the same to you. I won't cause no more fuss and I will just sit quietly. I told him that he had been no fuss and for the most part I had enjoyed his company and his stories, whether they be true or not. Long about the Idaho/Utah border one of those headaches hit him. His face went into his hands and he just shook all over. I pulled over and patted his back while he near screamed in pain. This was a good five minutes before he could gain control and sit up. He said he couldn't see at all after it and it would be a few minutes before he could. I wanted to find out then and there if this old man was just taking me for a ride, just to see what he could sap me out of. I reached back under my sleeper and pulled out a one million candle power spotlight and plugged it into my lighter. He had his head turned somewhat towards the passenger window when I said, Old man! Look my way. As soon as he did I flipped it on and hit him right in the eyes with it. The old man never flinched or even twitched an eyelid. So I shut it off and tucked it back under my sleeper, satisfied that the old guy was legit. I then ask if there was anything that I could do. No, just need to take a little nap and I'll be fine. I told him to get to his feet and lay back there on the bunk. No one can rest good sitting up. So, he got up and I took hold of his arm and kind of guided him back there. You lay down there and have a good sleep. When you get up we will get us some sandwich stuff and maybe heat us up some soup or something. That sounds real good he said. I kind of got him settled and closed the curtain and I got back to work.........
Other than a couple tire checks I drove all the way to Butte Montana before I was required by law to take an eight hour break. I think it had taken about six to eight hours for me to get there from my last stop in Idaho. Zeb had been asleep the whole time. No doubt been a while since he had an actual bed to sleep on so I just let him sleep and got me a nap across the seats. I woke up a couple hours later, grabbed my two thermos's and went inside. I Filled one with coffee and the other with soup from the buffet. I picked up a loaf of bread, a package of Bologna and a can of Spam, MMMMmmm. Time I got back to the truck it was getting dark. When I walked around the corner I saw a light in my truck that I had not left on. I just figured the old man had gotten up and felt at ease enough to help himself, which was fine. The closer I got I could see it was coming from my sleeper. I knew the light in there and this did not look right. As soon as I put the key in the door I saw it go out. I hopped up in the drivers seat and the stink just about gagged me! I grabbed for my dome lights and snatched the Curtin to my sleeper berth open and that old man like to had scared me to death! There he sat, naked as the day he was born all wide eyed and sitting in what I think is a yoga position. He had a little wooden bowl cupped in his hands with what looked like chicken wing bones. The bones were burnt and smoke was still coming from the bones or the bowl or something . I came unglued! Old man! What in the Hell are you doing!? What the Hell do you mean building a fire inside my truck. Man it smells like burnt feathers in here, what are you doing! In a very calm voice he answered me 'I am trying to keep the demon away that is trying to kill you' What! The demon he said. And why in the Hell would a demon be trying to kill me I asked. He wants to kill you because you are helping me. But, he is also trying to kill me as well. Ok, I said. I will bite. Why is a demon trying to kill you old man. Because I have something that I have to deliver to someone up north and the devil does not want it to be done. Your freak'n me old man, your really freak'n me! I don't see you with any package, I have not seen you with anything in your possession except that change purse you carry around in your front pocket (he seemed surprised that I knew where it was) Relax old man, if I had wanted to rob you of it I could have knocked you in the head while you was asleep. And I the same to you he said. He said, What I have to deliver is not in a package,. it's in here (pointing to his heart) Ok, now that I think about it, that's freakn' me also. I think I want you out of here, right now! Get your **** and get out of my truck. No, Please he said. I don't know for sure if I can get another ride. Who is going to pick an old black man up. I did! I picked you up and I'm beginning to think I need my head examined for doing so. You were sent he said. I need to have you take me a little farther north, Please! Well you tell me right now just how far north do you need to go ? I don't know for sure he said. I told him that he had better get to knowing really fast because I was not going to take him into Canada with me. I don't think I will have to go quite that far he said. Again, old man you are not making a lick of sense but I tell you what. If you promise me that you won't build anymore fires in my truck you can continue with me. You want to build a fire then you tell me and I will pull over and you can build all the fires you want, Agreed? He shook his head yes, No! I said I want to hear words. Is it agreed no more fires in the truck. Yes, he said. No more fires. Ok, get up here and fix you a sandwich and I got some hot soup here as well. But first! Put your pants on at least. I pulled the Curtin closed and he got dressed. He came out in his sock feet and made him up about a four slice bologna sandwich and drank himself a cup of soup. I then apologized for raising my voice to him and he just smiled at me. I can never repay you for all you are doing for me. Yea, probably not I said but if nothing else it's been one wild ride so far old man. I ask him if he was really serious about all that killer demon stuff and he said it's the truth just as everything else I have told you is the truth. Man! and there had been some wild tales up to this point. No way I could tell them all here to you folks but, they were classic to say the least. You don't mind if I don't buy the demon thing do you. Doesn't matter whether you believe or not, won't make it any less true if you don't . I asked him if he thought his headaches had anything to do with this demon thing. Yes, it is attacking my mind and trying to make me forget my purpose. I guess at that point I figured that I would just humor the old man and be a 'yes man' for the rest of his ride as I was pretty sure his mind was bad and getting worse. But in my heart I was ready for our ways to part as soon as possible so I got back on the freeway without him even finishing his soup. Hey Zeb! I would like to know something? I asked as I pulled back on the Interstate. How is it that you don't seem to have much trouble eating with you having no teeth and all? Son he said, My gums are as tough as the sole on an old boot. I can eat steak or an apple just as fast as anyone with teeth. Interesting ! I said. Like some music? Yeah! Ok. I found us a country station and we went back to Truck'n......
A couple hours or so down the road another one or those terrible headaches hit the old guy. We were a bit south of Helena and I pulled into a rest stop. This lasted quite a while as he held his head and muttered some things that I didn't understand. When it passed I asked him if he needed to build another fire. He went into the sleeper and got his plastic bag of clothes and got out his bowl and the same old charred bones. He opened the door and said that he would only be a minute. I went into the restroom there and did what I had to do. When I came out he was sitting all yoga like on a picnic table with his bowl and bones just smoking away. I went in and sat in the cab as this kind of spirit stuff never settled well with me anyway. By the time I had finished a smoke he was ready to go. Better? I asked. Yea, I'm ok he said. Something else I got to know old man. Tell me how you kept that bowl and stuff hidden after I made you dump that old coat. Did you have it folded up in your other clothes that I got you? Bingo! he said. Ok, tell me this. I know you don't have any matches and my lighter element has long since been burnt out. How is it that you are getting a blaze in that little voodoo bowl of yours. Son he said, some things and just better left to the imagination. So, your not going to tell me? No, don't believe I will. Take to long and you wouldn't understand anyhow. He ended with a big ole toothless grin. Ok then, Lets roll. When we got to Helena he began to look around, much more then I had seen him ever do. What's up Zeb I asked. Is this it? Is this the place? He looked around a little more and said no, but I think I am getting close. So, about this package or message or whatever you think you got. Is for a man or a woman? I don't know. Maybe a group of people? I don't know he said. Well, what is that you have to say to whoever or whatever. I don't know that either he said. Well you sure don't seem to know much about what you are doing old man. No, but I will he said. There you go again, talking in circles and freakn' me out. Twenty-thirty miles out of Greatfalls my truck started acting up. What the Hell I said. I was putting out smoke like I was on fire! It got all weak and I couldn't get it much over 40 miles per hour. I pulled over and yanked the hood open to see what was up and I had blown a chunk out of the turbocharger, the fins were showing. I never been a mechanic but I knew it was bad. I turned my flashers on and figured I would limp on in to town. I filled Zeb in on what had happened and he just shook his head. What! I asked. I suppose you think a demon smashed it? I know he did, he is trying to delay us. Delay us from what! I don't know. yea, thats the answer I was looking for, anything else might shock me I said. I made it to about sixth gear and that's all the old truck would give me. That was a long twenty miles that the old man slept through. About the time we got to the Greatfalls city limit sign that old man sat bolt upright so fast that it scared me and I spilled my coffee that I had just poured all over myself. Dammitt old man! What's wrong with you, are you having some kind of Seizure!? This is the place he said, this is the place I need to be. Ok, outstanding I said. I am going to the flying J north of town. There I am going to see about getting my truck fixed and I guess you are on your own from there. We made it to the truck stop where I went inside and called my employer to tell them what had happened. I then called a diesel repair shop and had a man come out. In a few minutes the service tech showed up and gave me his diagnosis. He made a call and hung up shaking his head. Oh! I said, let me tell you what they said. I told the service guy that 'it will be tomorrow before they can get it in' Right? Well, close he said. We can have the turbo in the morning but won't be able to get to it until the next day. I was looking at maybe a two day layover in Greatfalls Montana and that was not appealing to me at all. The guy said that he would be able to fix it right here when he had everything, But he would need me to bring it in after he finished so that he could tune it in. Well I told him he had might as well take it on to the shop because I was not going to stay in it for two days. I called my employer and said I needed a comcheck for a motel. He also sent another truck & driver to continue with my load because I was not going to make it. I went back out and got in the cab. Well old man, we can't stay in here any longer because the shop will be coming after the truck in a bit. There was a long pause.....So, he said. Where are we going!? We! I thought you said this was where you need to be. Well, it is but I'm not sure exactly where. I laid my head down on the steering wheel and let out a long sigh. Old man, I have to go find a motel for a day or so, so you might as well come along. Alright m' friend and hurriedly got his things in hand. There was that big toothless grin again and looking right at me. Stay put I said, I got to go call a taxi.....
I got out and walked back into the truck stop and ask the attendant if she would mind calling me a cab. It was no problem she said. I went back and got my travel bags so I could get a shower and clean up since it looked like I was going to be there awhile. The truck repair guy showed up in a tow truck while we were waiting for the cab. We got what we needed and he hooked up to it and he was gone. We stood in front of the flying j and waited for our cab. It was a short wait and me and the old man got in. Where to he asked. Take us to motel, not a real cheap one I said and not any four star units either. I would at least like to stay in one that has cable and a couple movie channels. Gotcha covered he said. He took us in a little closer to town where I saw a motel 6 and said that will do. The cab driver said there was a place just a little farther down the road that offers truckers discounts. So I said, will that place actually save me any money or will the extra fare you charge to take me there pan it out about even. No, you will benefit from the ride. Well, then drive on m' good man. Zed started rubbing his head. Zeb! you having a headache? I think so he said. Something wrong back there the cab driver asked? No, we are fine. The old man moved his hands from his face and asked if I would mind driving on a little farther. Old man, we are in a cab. Do you understand that this man charges to drive us around? Just a little he asked, Zeb continued and said that he couldn't move his legs. Driver! Take us to the Hospital. I was surprised, the old man never offered so much as a whimper in protest. The driver sped up and had us there in a few seconds. We pulled into the parking lot and old Zeb looked up at tall gray building and said, 'My God, this is the place. What do you mean old man? This is it, this is the place I am supposed to be. I said sit still and I will go for a wheelchair and an attendant. I went in and told them I had an old man out here that needed help. Be right with you Sir I was told. Well, I saw a chair not being used and took it for Zeb. I got him in the chair, paid the driver and wheeled him inside. His face was all the way down into his lap with pain from this headache when I took him through the door. Ma'am! I need someone to look at this old man. I guess because she saw no blood squirting out of his ears or bones sticking out of his skin, he must not be in to bad of shape. She handed me a couple of forms to fill out while I was waiting. I wheeled him over to a corner and sat down in front of him. In a few minutes he was sat back up and said he was better. Son, he said. These people are not going to do anything for me. Soon as they find out I have no insurance I'm right back out the door and you know it. Just toss them papers in the trash there . Besides he says, we are not here for me. I need to go for a little walk, I need to find something he said. I told him I guess I have no problem with it. I have no place I have to be for a day or so. But! Why don't you just stay in your chair and I will wheel you around. If they see us just wondering around they might have something to say about it. If I leave you in this chair we will kind of fit in, you know? Hey, now you are thinking he says. Ok, where you want to go? You don't know, do you. Yes, smart ass. As a matter fact I do know where I want to go. I want to go that way *points off to the left* I pushed that old man around about fifteen minutes when he said ' we got to get on the next floor' So, I found the elevator and we got inside. We got out and he said he just needed to sit there a minute. So I had me a seat as well. He just sat there and rubbed on his crucifix and prayed. He is here he said, Who? The demon. The one that you say has been trying to stop you? Yes, down at the end of the hall. Look he said. I looked at the end of the hall and there stood what I thought to be a young boy standing in a hospital robe. I couldn't see and facial features because of the distance between us, I would guess maybe 150-200 feet between us. Aw, old man. You are letting your imagination run away and you are freakn' me out once again. You get a kick out of freakn' me, don't you old man. Walk towards it he said. What? Go on he said, walk towards it. You think I have been full of **** ever since you met me. Go on, prove me a lunatic and walk on down there. Ok, just to prove you wrong I will. He handed me his crucifix and told me to put it around my neck. So I took it just to humor the old man and I put it around my neck. The kid (so I thought ) was looking right at us. I started my walk. Go on Zeb said. Don't push me, I'm going. I took a few steps and said, in a semi loud voice 'Little boy! what are you doing down there all alone. As it was not as well lit as it should have been anyway. As I got down a little farther I could see that some construction had been going on down there. I only took a few steps before I noticed that the facial features were not coming in on this boy. I kept walking and the boy turned very slowly to my right and walked into a doorway (I thought) As it turned, in it's profile I could see at least where a face should have been. What I saw was like looking into a pool of muddy water that was full of waves, like the wind was at it. I did make it all the way down and when I got there, there were no doors to my right. Whatever it was I had just witnessed, it walked right through a wall. I am not embarrassed to say that I was so scared that I clinched my fist around that old mans crucifix so tight that it cut into my hand and blood was dripping through to the floor. I walked backwards all the way back to where that old man sat. He didn't say a word and I didn't either. I just sat back down there on the bench between the elevators. I don't know how much time had passed until he said. If you would kindly wipe my crucifix off and hand it back to me I would appreciate it. It was embedded in my hand and the blood had already started to dry around it. I peeled it out of my hand and wiped it off with a handkerchief that I had in my pocket and told him that this is the best I can do without some soap and water. No, that's fine. That is not the first time that has happened. I have had the same thing happen to me many times. Them Eyes of yours open now boy! Are they! he asked. Yea, I guess you could say that. Good, I need to go to the next floor please.................
I didn't get up straight away, I just sat there and shook as I had never experienced anything like that ever before in my life. I have served in the military years ago and knew what it was to feel fear. Spending all night in a foxhole trying to get some rest and praying that my partner who was supposed to stay awake and watch while I slept would do his job well. Listening to small arms fire all around and just knowing that this breath could very well be the last. I have seen things that would make a Billy goat puke and sat and ate my lunch next to what used to be a body. I can handle fear as I learned to deal with it long ago. But, this stuff is different! This is something you can't take a club to, something I can't cut down with a barrage of lead from a fully automatic weapon or scatter to pieces with the trip of an m18 claymore . How do you do battle with something that can walk through walls. I felt completely defenseless .
Old man? We aren't going to see that thing up on the next floor are we. He said if we can stay around people, perhaps not. Well lets go find some people then. Then again, it can only make it's self visible to us if it chooses. Well aren't you just full of good cheer I said. Lets get whatever it is that you have to do done and get out of here, ok? There is nothing I would like more he said. I got hold of his chair, pushed a button and waited for the doors to open. We got on and preceded to the next floor. When It opened, Zeb got to his feet. I need to walk some he said. So, we walked.
We passed by the nurses desk and what I had feared was ask of us. Can I help you? an older very gruff talking nurse ask me. No thank you I said. We think we know where we are going. The old man never stopped as he was already on his way. Stopping and looking in every room. I caught up with him and told him that this didn't look good at all. That nurse at the desk wasn't very happy with the notion of us wondering around without a purpose. We got a purpose Zeb said. Oh, you know why you are here now? No, not quite yet he said. We finished up one side and started down the other and that put us back down by the nurses desk. Are you sure I can't be of assistance to you men she asked. No thanks I said, I still believe that we have it under control. We started down another hall with the same procedure. We got back down the other side right next to where that crabby prune faced old nurse was sitting. As he stuck his head in that last door on that side, another headache hit him. This one put him right on the floor.
Of course that brought everyone running. Nurse was on the intercom paging for help. Son, get me to my feet. Of course there was the nurse screaming NO! don't move him. And ole Zeb flat out told her, 'shut up b*tch' and that old cow sat on Zeb to keep him down. She is not acting on her own Zeb said, look at her eyes. Damn! they looked just like that muddy pool that I had expieranced on the floor below and doing my best to forget about and there it was just inches from my face. I pushed that old woman off him and she spun around and was right back on him again. I shoved a little harder and caused her to do a full summer salt I was able to get him to his feet this time. She went running to her station screaming for security. Damn old man! we are likely to go to jail over this! By that time I had noticed the couple that was in the room we were in front of was standing in the doorway just looking completly mortified at what had just taken place.
Zeb was stone blind when he said ,I need to go into this room right here. The couple in the door was young, in their early twenties. The Man said 'you are not coming in here'. I had so much to tell this man in just a matter of seconds as I knew help was coming to remove us. I said I have brought this man over a thousand miles to apparently come into this room. It's a very long story and as you can see we don't have time to explain. I looked at the woman and asked her, Please? Honey, she said as she looked up at him. What harm could it do. These men could be criminals he said. We are not criminals I said. Look at him, he is blind, in his 90's and might weigh a hundred pounds if he had sand in his pockets. A slight breeze would blow him away, he is no threat to anyone. She took her Husband by the hand and stepped out into the hallway. He is blind? the woman asked me. Yes I said, but it is only temporary. He loses his sight for a time after some kind of migraines he has. Zeb stuck out his old weathered hand and asked , Missy? would you please take my hand and lead me inside. She was of course very puzzled and apprehensive to say the least. I assured her that it would be alright and convinced her husband of the same. She took his hand and started back into the room. They are coming Zeb said, what ever you do don't let them interfere. I stood and watched them go to the back of the room.
There the woman pulled back the Curtin and revealed the most beautiful little girl I had ever to this day seen. I guessed her to be about six years old. I stepped through the doorway somewhat and stretched my neck to get a better look. There she lay, long blonde curly hair that surrounded her face and came down to about her knees. That face, she reflected the light like nothing I had ever seen as she was truly glowing with a beauty that could put ten thousand Angels to shame. She looked a bit gaunt because of being fed by a tube for so long but she was truly a little angel. I asked her Dad What was wrong with her? He told me that she had heart surgery two and a half weeks ago and never woke from it. She had been in a coma all this time. My heart sank when the dad informed me this morning that they had discussed with the Doctor the possibility of disconnecting her from life support. He said The only reason we are holding out is because as you can see, she is still breathing on her own. They also say she still has a small bit of reaction in her pupils from light. Tears began to swell as I thought about my Boy and put myself in their place, and my gut ached.
I couldn't hear them but I watched as Zeb spoke very quietly to the woman as they stood at the foot of her bed. Here they come the Dad said. Two orderly's came running with a Gurnee, apparently for the old man. Also there were two security guards right along with them. I felt the need to near beg this young Dad not to let them in there right away. They got to the door and there was that old crow of a nurse yapping away trying to convince the guards that I had physically assaulted her. I could see that her eyes had cleared so I felt quite a bit more at ease having her around. But still! That woman was a tyrant! Thank God that the Dad stood up for me and said that he didn't see it that way at all. He explained that there was a misunderstanding as to whether or not that old man remained on the floor after some sort of attack he had. She was up on that old mans chest to keep him down and that was just not his wishes to remain there and this man here simply moved her off. That old nurse was grabbing at the Dads shoulder and trying to pull him out of the doorway. My wife is very distraught he said and cannot deal with this. He pointed at me and said, this man and his friend inside are my friends and I have invited them to come here. He said The only problem I see is the head nurse here wanting to play queenie and rule the floor. What about the disturbances one of the guards asked. There are no disturbances. Do you hear any disturbances? (The floor was silent) The nurse huffed off, and orderly's soon followed. Guard ask , so these men are here at your request? Yes! Satisfied with that the guards walked away as well. Me and the Dad walked on into the room unmolested. By this time the Mother was sitting at the head of the right side of the bed and holding her Daughters hand. Zeb was on the other side between the bed and the wall as to use it to support himself. He had hold of her other hand and tears were flowing down his face. It was also easy to see that great stress was upon him as well. The muscles in his face were very taunt and distorted and he trembled with a force that shook the bed of that little Princess as if he were freezing.
I know the old man couldn't see yet, but he pointed in our general direction and told us both to sit down and do not talk or whisper among ourselves. He continued, fold your hands in your lap and clear your minds and be as Reverent as you possibly can be. He took his left palm and placed it on the fore head of that Dear sweet little one. Then, with the most pronounced and clear tone that I had ever heard come from this old man, came these words. Behold,,,, We all are about to be in the presence of greatness.....
Very tired when I finished this friends. Forgive the no paragraphs, spelling, grammar and the like. Enjoy
I remember feeling heavy, I don't think I could have moved if I had wanted. My head was low as was the Dads that set next to me. We both was doing our best but of course watching through our eyebrows. The old man never said anything else that I could hear, he just cried and shook. After I guess maybe three or four minutes Zeb bent the rest of the way over and put his cheek against this little girls cheek. What happend next all three of us saw. At the end of the bed formed what I have since to know as ectoplasm. Since then ., this is the only time I ever saw ecto with my naked eye, always around a cemetery stone. That kind of freaked me for a moment as I thought this might be something that had come to take her soul. This ectoplasm had it's own light source and lit up the room to the point that it had attracted attention back at the nurses station. As quick as it came, it was gone. Me and Dad sat there with a dumbfounded look on our face still looking in the direction this thing had been. A crowd had gathered at the door as this little girls Doctor excused himself through the doorway. There we sat, still staring at what was no longer there. Thats when we heard it.....Like the coo of a Dove. Soft, low. 'hi' as she looked up into the face of that old black man. next came 'are you an angel?' No, sweetie, I just came to help Zeb said as he kissed her on the forehead. Zeb backed out away from the bed and took a seat in the corner and the little girls Mother took his place. 'I'm thirsty Mom' The Doctor was all wanting to know what had been going on here while he was thumbing with his stethoscope, trying to get it in position. Well, little girl he said. Nice to see your eyes open. How do you feel? I feel tired she said. She continued to tell him that she had been running and hiding in these dark awuful places for days and days! Someone was after me. Who, who was after you baby Mom asked. I don't know she said. He didn't have a face. I looked over at Zeb and he was stil shaking and crying but looking right at me. I just smiled and he shook his head as if to acknowledge exactly what I was thinking. We made it, we got here in time. Oh the questions that were coming at Zeb and this old man was spent. The Doctor ask us kindly to clear out as the little girl needed to rest. I walked over and offered Zeb my hand and I helped him to his feet. The Dad asked if he could do anything. I said, yea. See if you can't find us a wheel chair. He left and came back with one in just a jiffy. I said, have a seat old man and I will wheel you out of here. He sat down and wheeled himself over to the little girls bed side where he patted her on the hand. 'I saw you there' she said. Honey, the Mom asked. Where did you see him? He was there Mommy, he threw a rock at that mean boy without a face and knocked him down. That's when I came out of the bushes and he helped me to get back home she said. Mom bent over and hugged ole Zeb and said , I have no idea what just happened, but Thank you. No Thanks needed he said as I didn't do anything. Just make sure you give Thanks to the one who deserves it. I will she said. With that! I parted the crowd and headed towards the elevator . That old man stuck his tongue out at that old hateful nurse when we wheeled by. She did a double take and he did it again. Zeb, how old are you I asked. Old enough to kick that old heifers ass down the stairs if I only had a chance. He said it loud enough that everyone heard him and everyone was doing there best not to laugh but is wasn't working. The Dad followed us to the elevator and down to the front doors of the Hospital. I want to Thank you again for whatever it was that you did up there. Anytime Zeb said. I shook his hand and he said he had best get back up to his family. Well old man? You are quite a piece of work. What do you want to do I asked. I sure could use something to eat he said. I hailed us a cab that was sitting down the way a bit and asked him what he thought he wanted to eat. I want some biscuits and gravy. We got in the cab and I asked where we could get some biscuits and gravy. The cabbie took us to a Restaurant and we ate our fill. It was getting late so I told him that we should get us a room and get some rest. Back in a cab and we found us some low dollar lodging for the night. I didn't trouble the old man with anymore questions that night. I just helped him get his tennis shoes and pants off and he was asleep before I could get his blankets turned down for him. So I covered him with from mine. I stayed up, got a shower and watched a little TV. The next morning I walked across the highway to a McDonalds, got us some coffee and a couple sausage biscuits each. I came back in and kicked at the side of his bed an told him I had coffee. He sat up with his eyes all swollen shut from all the tears yesterday I figured. I had already been on the phone with the diesel shop and it looked like my truck would be ready that afternoon sometime. I told the repair shop where we were and ask them to just bring it out here when it was finished. I had also talked with my employer and had a load to hook onto that was headed back east as soon as I had a truck to put under it. We drank or coffee and ate our muffins and I had to start. Old man, how did you know that you were needed up here. Zeb told me that he had a visitor that told him there was someone that was trapped by the same demon that had trapped me years ago as a child. He continued to tell me about when he was six or seven that he lay in a coma and thought dead. He had no help and was at his own resources to free himself from this imp. He said, since I did as well as I did it was decided that I was needed to help someone. I don't understand it, any of it I said! You said you didn't know where you was going. I didn't said Zeb, It was revealed to me as I went along. But you did know that you were going to perhaps do battle with some demon from your childhood? Yes, I had an idea that I might. Why didn't you tell me this when I first picked you up. And how long would you have kept me in your truck if I had told you that. yea, I see your point. I got all serious and looked him in the eyes. So, who are you old man. I'm just a vessel he said. I keep myself empty and void so that I am easily used when I am needed. Is that little girl going to be alright I asked? Will that thing bother her anymore? No he said if anything , it will come after me. Don't that scare you? No, I'm to old to be scared. My heart is right and where it ought to be. I'm not afraid of dieing he said. Well Zeb, I could hang around you for days just asking questions about the last few hours but I can't do it. What do you want to do Zeb?. I told him that I would pay for another night for him if he just wanted to hang out here by himself and get some more rest. Or, I said he would be welcome to head back east with me if he was so minded to. No, he said. I need to start working on getting back to California. Come Fall I sure don't want to be caught up here or back east., I'll frezze to death he said. How about when your truck comes you run me back to the truck stop where I can start bumming myself a ride back home. Ok, I can do that. I think I will take myself a little shower he said. I could use some of that hot water on my old back he said. Yea, no doubt there is plenty in there for you. While he was in the shower I made a little call. My truck showed up while he was in the shower, I didn't rush him. No telling when he would get another. I Gave the repair man a comcheck number for the parts and service his shop had provided and thanked him. I had all my paperwork up to date and was ready to go by the time Zeb was dressed and ready himself. We didn't start out in the right direction and he called me on it. Truck stop is back the other way he said. I know where it is I said. Just sit still a minute. I took him to a greyhound station and told him there is a ticket with the name Zeb on it that will get you all the way back down to San Diego. I would have put a last name on it but I didn't know any. HE stuck out his hand and said ., Peerson. The named Zeb Peerson. Well, Mr.Peerson? You won't have to worry about finding a ride or when you are going to get there, Just make sure you don't miss your bus transfers. I went in with him and hugged his neck and told him to take care. I had a bill folded up in the palm of my hand when I shook his hand for the last time. As our hands were still clasped he asked , what is this? Just a few dollars so you won't have to worry about not having any. Don't look at it I said, just slip it in your pocket. He did and I said goodbye and turned towards the door. I turned around one last time and sure enough, there was that big wide toothless grin again. Be careful trucker he said and be careful who you pick up. There's a lot of fruitcakes out there. Your telling me old man. Bye.
Of course that was the last time I ever saw that old man. And yes I do know the names of the couple in the Hospital and the little girl. I just don't feel at liberty to reveal them. I have kept in touch with the Dad and even sent him money in my and Zebs name to help him with his little girls education. I had many dreams about that old man in the next year or so. I also made the same run that had picked him up on many times more. I always kept an eye peeled for him but I never saw him again. About two years later I fell on really hard times. I had hurt my back outside of work and had to have surgery and was laid up for nearly six months. Had some more sickness in the family that just drained me and my wife of our savings. My employer went out of business basically because of piss poor management and all his trucks eventually found there way to commercial vehicle auction. I remember the last trip I ever took and how sad I was the day I knew I would never go out again, not in this truck anyway. This truck was special to me and the last of it's kind. It wasn't all governed down in horsepower and speed like all the fleet trucks are now days. This truck had a tad over six hundred horse's and it used them all. This truck would top out across Wyoming at about 110 mph. It was awesome.
Ole Zeb hadn't been in my dreams for a long, long while until I had turned this truck in and they started again. It was always the same dream, I was standing in a line at a store with some grocery's in my arms. When I got up to the checkout everyone would laugh and point because I didn't have any money. I thought I could see Zeb out the window of this store yelling something but I just couldn't make out what he was saying.
I told my wife that I wanted to go to the auction where these trucks were being sold. I had to put on a back brace when I tried to to anything but I really wanted to go to this thing. My wife couldn't understand but she helped me get around and get down there. This place was huge, it was maybe five acres of trucks, trailers, farm equipment and the like. But I found it, I found my truck. I told her that I wanted to get up in it. I wanted her to get in the passenger side and sit in there with me. It took some doing but I got up there. The keys were over the visor so I just fired it up. My wife is all poking around asking what this and that does when she pulls down the sun visor on here side. There it was, down fell old Zebs change purse. I shut the truck off and told my wife who that belonged to. This belonged to that crazy old black man you told me about. Yea, hand it here. It had three dollars in it. But, there was something else. there was like two thin pieces of wood or cardboard that made up the sides of it and then it had been covered with Swede. I could plainly feel four circles that were cut out in each side. I looked at my wife and I pulled the lining out of this little pouch. There were four coins sitting in perfect circles that had been cut out for these to sit in. Are those gold my wife asked? I don't know, but what else could they be. I sure didn't put it back up above the visor. I knew Zeb had left it there for me. He just left kept to tight of a grip on it to have left it there by accident. I put it into my front pocket and we got out of there. When we got home we were both very anxious to get a better look at them. They were very hard to read and I thought they were just messed up to where they might only be good for scrap gold. I didn't want to pry them out of the wood they seemed to be embedded in and risk maybe messing them up more. My wife got on in the phone book and found a jewler that also dealt in coins. We told him what we had and he was also very anxious to see them. We wasted no time and got them down to him. He had a lot of questions so we just told him that we found them in the attic of our grandparents house. That satisfied him. He said you know there will be nothing left of the purse when I an finished. That's fine, he placed them it a flat cookie sheet looking pan and poured something onto them. In just a few seconds he lifter them out. Interesting he said, What! what is interesting I asked. These coins have many, many layers of fingernail polish in them. He continued to clean and then he took them over to that I think was a buffer wheel. A few minutes there and he returns with something absolutely beautiful. He said these are all the same, 1855 $20 Dollar liberty gold coins he said. He continued that they are in perfect un-circulated condition. And worth quite a bit he said. Are you interested in selling he asked? We don't know yet I said. We need to think on it. Well, let me put them in cases for you, no charge he said.
We took them home and put them on the table and just stared at them. You know, I said. We are probably looking at the solution to our financial trouble right here. What about that old man my wife said. He wanted me to have these, I just know he did. That's what I was being told in my dreams I just couldn't figure it out. I started my own business with the what these coins brought and put my oldest son through College. I kept one in a safe deposit box for years. Just in case I ran across that old man again and found it to be an accident that he had left them there. After I figured him to be around 120 I thought it safe to cash the other in.
Well, that's it I guess. Just a moment in my life I chose to share. There is some strange **** out there to say the least. Just one more thing, be kind to animals, old people and children. You will be rewarded one way or the other.. If it's nothing but just the warm feeling it puts in your heart. Remember! if you live, you will be old people someday. Blessings