The Awakening of Russell Henderson

I am posting some excerpts from my latest novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson, here for the next while. Here is another. Stay tuned for next week.

I left on Saturday morning the week before Memorial Day from eastern Iowa and headed north to I-80 at Iowa City; west from there across Iowa to I-25 and north at Council Bluffs. Iowa was mainly rolling hills of farmland and little towns; all of it breezing by from the isolation of an interstate highway that required no slowing or stopping, unless for gas or the call of nature. I stayed my first night in the little town of Missouri Valley, Iowa. All was running smoothly and precisely as I had planned.

I had dinner at a local diner in town and a good night’s rest. Up early, I filled up with gas and headed to the Interstate. It was then I veered from my plan. I saw her along with a large backpack and a guitar at the on-ramp, thumb up in the hitch hiker position. Whatever possessed me to, I don’t know. Loneliness? But I pulled over, stopped, and swung open the passenger door. I saw her in the rear view mirror, grab her backpack and guitar, then walk deliberately, slowly, scrutinizingly, towards the van. She finally looked in and scrutinized me as well, carefully, smiled a cold crooked smile and asked, “Where are you headed?” 

“West,” I replied. “Where are you headed?”

“Eventually San Francisco, but right now, I‘m heading to the Rosebud Reservation to see an old friend,” she answered. “You headed there, maybe?”

“I am not planning on going there. My itinerary’s all mapped out and San Francisco wasn’t included. I’m planning on heading west on Highway 20 when we get to Sioux City, then up through the Lakota Reservations, then to Mount Rushmore. How far do you want to go?’”

“I meant the Rosebud. Didn’t expect you to take me to the Bay. But I’ll be happy to have a ride up to the Rez,” she said.

“Jump in then and let’s go, then.”

She threw her stuff into the back. I accelerated the Westy up the ramp and we headed north to Sioux City.

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