On the Road 1.2: Mercy

            Glen crossed the road carefully.  The traffic was slim in the snow, but still coming and likely to slide out of control if he stepped out too soon.  He felt better when he was moving, though he had no feeling in his feet, but at least his gloved hands held tight to his bags.  He looked briefly into the sky once again where the dismal gray and the snow that poured out of the grayness showed no sign of a break.  He imagined it was warmer than it might have been because the fresh snow was insulating everything.  At least he told himself that.  Then again, he imagined when his gloves got wet enough, his hands would freeze off.

            The entrance to the highway was not far from the bus terminal.  He could hear the traffic on the bridge above.  People were trying hard to get home before they got stuck in the storm.  He hoped the traffic was slow enough where some kind soul might be willing to stop for him.  The College of the Lion was the next exit down, but Glen knew he would never survive the seven mile walk to get there with all of his things.  He prayed again.  He seemed to do a lot of praying lately.

            The wind picked up as soon as he reached the highway.  He thought he was still technically on the entrance ramp, so perhaps not doing anything illegal, but honestly he did not care.  He was freezing and imagined he might die if he did not get help soon.

            The cars went by.  Several sloshed that extra cold snowy-icy mix on to his shoes and jeans.  His jeans stiffened as they began to ice over.  He feared he might lose his feet, and perhaps his ears.  He smiled, because the traffic was not that fast, but not one driver slowed for him.  He was going to die.

            A tractor trailer pulled over up ahead.  Glen did not really pay attention, in part because he imagined the truck driver just needed to check something before continuing or he decided to pull over and wait out the storm.  In part, Glen’s eyes were no longer focusing well and his mind was freezing over.  The man in the truck leaned out of the passenger side.  He may have shouted several times before it registered.

            “You want a ride?”

            Glen picked up his bags and walked carefully to the cab.  He said nothing in return and let the man put Glen’s bags behind the seat.  When Glen crawled into the heated truck and closed the door, everything began to sting like a million needles sticking in every corner of his body.  He still could not feel his feet, but his ears turned beet red and felt like they had a fever.  And all Glen could do was rip off his gloves and breathe on his hands and fingers.

            “Thank you.”  He finally got that out between lips that were so cold and dry they were bleeding in several places. 

            “Where to?”  The driver asked as he pulled again into traffic.

            “The College of the Lion,” Glen answered, and when they had moved about five miles along he decided the kind man deserved a better explanation.  “I had a bus ticket from the airport, but the bus driver abandoned the bus in Jack’s Town and the bus company locked the terminal and told me to go away.”

            The Driver said nothing, but handed Glen a cup of hot coffee he had taken from his thermos.  Glen said “Thank you” again  and fought the temptation to gulp it down.  He sipped slowly for fear he would burn his lips and mouth and not know it until later.

            The driver pulled off at the exit for the college and drove up the main street to stop finally right in front of Glen’s dorm.  Glen never asked how the man knew it was his dorm.  He never lifted his shivering head long enough to actually look at the man.  He got his things, slowly, and the man was wonderfully patient.

            “Thank you,” he said a third time as he climbed down from the cab.  “You saved my life.”  The cold was bitter, but it had stopped snowing.  And the driver waited until Glen got everything up on the sidewalk.  Then he drove off.  He never gave his name.  Glen never asked, so he never knew who this angel of mercy was to thank him properly later on.  But then, he got the feeling the man wanted it that way.

            Glen felt a couple of tears fall.  He was still in danger from the cold, but it was a short way up the walk and steps and into the building.  He wasn’t dead yet.

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