Day Three of my week-long introduction to my brand-new thriller, THE LONELY MILE, $2.99 from StoneHouse Ink...here's Chapter Three:
Bill Ferguson sat alone at his table, one arm resting along the back of the booth’s bench seat, legs stretched comfortably across the red vinyl. Steam swirled lazily from his mug as he sipped his coffee. He loved the coffee they served at this busy rest station off Interstate 90 in western Massachusetts. It wasn’t the fancy upscale stuff the yuppies seemed to enjoy overpaying for, but it definitely hit the spot.
As the owner of a pair of moderately successful independent hardware stores, one located in rural Massachusetts and one in rural upstate New York, Bill had occasion to travel I-90 often, ferrying inventory between stores and taking cash receipts to the bank. Whenever possible, he tried to take a few precious minutes out of his day to sit back and enjoy the coffee while watching the world pass by, here, at this rest stop.
The weather today was atypical for a late spring day: hot and humid; more like August than May. Sweaty travelers, most dressed in shorts and t-shirts, hurried inside to use the facilities and stock up on food and drinks before barreling back onto the highway to mix it up with the rest of the early-season vacationers. The chaotic activity had a certain anonymity to it—like the practiced avoidance of the big city, where people could be packed, shoulder to shoulder, on public transit or elevators and still manage to ignore the strangers around them. Most of the vacationers’ interactions here were limited to completing a transaction at one of the fast food franchises inside the plaza, wolfing down their food and drinks, and heading out.
In contrast, long-haul truckers slouched in to sit around long tables, sipping coffee and shooting the breeze with their buddies as they falsified their drivers’ logbooks in case of a surprise inspection by the DOT somewhere down the road. Bill could pick out the longtime truck drivers pretty easily; they carried themselves low to the ground like sports cars, as if the gravitational pull from decades of sitting in the driver’s seat had somehow gradually compressed them. The truckers spent their days in solitude, breathing exhaust fumes and covering mile after mile of paved highway with only the radio for company. Unlike the vacationers, who seemed to view the people around them as intrusions to be avoided at all costs, the truckers tended to be outgoing and talkative here, at least to others who earned their living behind the wheel.
Bill raised his coffee to his lips with his left hand, enjoying the slightly acidic taste as it burned its way down his gullet. With his right, he absently traced the bulge of the Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol secured in his worn, leather, shoulder holster. A loose-fitting blue windbreaker with “Ferguson Hardware” stitched with off-white thread on the breast pocket concealed the handgun nicely. He carried the weapon whenever it was necessary to transport cash or valuable merchandise for his stores, and, in sixteen years, he had never had occasion to pull it out of the holster unless he was at the practice range.
Running his hand over the outline of the weapon, Bill caressed it like a security blanket, which he supposed, in a way, it was. Carrying large sums of money at all hours of the day or night on an interstate highway, often lonely and secluded over the forty-mile stretch between exits for his stores, was no kind of avenue to a long and healthy life, and, although Bill had never yet run into trouble, he knew you could never be too careful.
He drained his coffee with a satisfied sigh and stretched his muscles, feeling the usual popping and cracking of bones and tendons—signs of turning forty last year. He set his mug on the table and rose. The coffee was good, but nothing lasted forever. His failed marriage testified to the wisdom of that theory.
Oh, well. It was time to use the facilities, hit the road, and get back to work.
Chapter Four to follow tomorrow! If you like what you've seen, THE LONELY MILE can be purchased for $2.99 at
My website: http://www.allanleverone.com/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lonley-mile-allan-leverone/1104328433