The old man was tired.
Every day of the year, he’d sit on the front porch of his highway gas station and wait for a car to roll up. He’d read in the paper that station attendants were being phased out in big chains across the country, and wanted little to do with it. By God, he thought, I was put here to pump gas, and nothing more. This he knew.
Today the old man looked out at the sea of cornstalks engulfing his little petroleum island and felt rather lonely. It’d been several days since he’d seen a person, and seeing a nice fellow would make his day, he reckoned.
A couple of minutes later, his wish was granted.
A ramshackle automobile crested the horizon. The motor sounded like it was running on peanut shells. It lurched into the lot of the station with the tipsy grace of a vagabond.
The old man went to the car, wordlessly opened the gas cap and started pumping, like always. As time dragged on, something caught his eye. There was a dark stream running down the side of the back door. Warily, the old man peered in the window.
A body lay across the backseat, covered with a rough sheet.
His head snapped to look at the driver. He had scarcely uttered a word before he was shot.
The old man hit the ground with a solid thud. In the still air of the farm country, you could have heard a pin drop.
The driver pumped the rest of the gas. He propped the old man in his chair on the porch and left quickly. He figured he hadn’t much time left and knew he had to move before they found him.
The old man’s chair rocked, swaying like a cornstalk in the wind.
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