The routine ride home from a neighboring town, seemed different today.
As I glanced at the dirty, sandy spot left on the usually spotless black leather seat beside me,
I felt almost ashamed of the warm smile that crossed my face..
But that's how I felt.
Content some how.......
No radio blaring as usual. Just thinking of Ernie and his stories.
Wondering what that look was, I saw deep in his eyes.
Scared eyes..yet not scary. Eyes that had seen too much maybe, who couldn't seem to find home.
The cardboard sign simply said east. He was sitting atop a dirty, dark roll of gathered belongings at the only stop light in town. It was one of those sunrises that make you feel small. Pinks..purples..glassy blue..sun rays shooting through scattered clouds like golden fingers pointing straight to heaven. As I sat waiting for the light to change, I noticed this guy noticed it too! I don't see many hitchhikers in our small town and the words pounded into my head since birth kept ringing over and over. Never talk to strangers...don't do it!
Ernie is sitting next to me holding his dirty rolled up bag protectively in his lap and
I'm at the drive through at McDonald's. Three sausage biscuits please..I take mine and hand the bag to Ernie who looked like a skeleton lost under layers of old wrinkled clothes. Kind, hollow eyes thank me as he rolls the top of the bag down tightly and asks if he can please save his for later. I can't speak and hope he doesn't notice tears running down my cheeks. He must , for he breaks the silence by telling me of his years on the road, although I didn't ask. He speaks intelligently of the sights and places I've always intended to visit some day. His words bring to life the adventures of meeting all kinds of people - good and bad - all over the country, but Ernie didn't tell me why he lived life on the road.
Later, he shook my hand and said goodbye.
As he stood there, that last look we shared..he smiled - I cried.
I thought I was going to help a lonely man, but he helped me........