Driving to live with my sister in Arizona after getting hooked on a glass pipe with all the belongings I had left, I spotted his dark figure in the fading light of a May dusk. The motor of the Red Dodge Intrepid seemed to skip some cylinders, or perhaps it was my heart that had misfired for one moment.
He had pissed in more roadside rest stop bathrooms than Kerouac, I suspect.
I turned around along the I-40 in Oklahoma to pick him up on the previous exit where he had posted himself, wisely, at the top of the off ramp so he wouldn’t be harassed by the State Patrol. He asked if he could take his boots off and then spent the first three hours of our tour west apologizing for the smell of his feet. Eddy said he was going to Vegas.
In Albuquerque, we had to get off the I-40 and run through part of town. I bought him a six-pack of something cheap but tasty and some snacks for the two of us. We ended up having to follow Route 66 through New Mex a good part of the way toward Flagstaff.
In northern Arizona, outside Flagstaff, he asked if we could pull over at a scenic overlook, I half expected him to say he would be heading to Vegas from there. We stood and looked over a breathtaking view of the forested mountains, he was sipping one of his beers.
Maybe it was the herds of elk on both sides of the Interstate south of Flagstaff, mating calls coming in waves and echoes through the car as we drove on that kept him from asking for the Vegas shortcut, or maybe he just wanted to make sure I made it safely to the gas station in Central Phoenix where he dropped himself off the path I still had to follow back then.
Two weeks later, I got a money order for $25 in the mail from him with an address in North Las Vegas and like the fool I am, I cashed it. A regret I’ll likely carry to my grave, if I live long enough.
I still remember his name, still remember his name. Stiner was a fishy way to spell that last name.