Hitchhiking in Wisconsin, May 1979
by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

As a '62 Electra skids to a stop,
I pile into the back seat,
backpack and all.

Against the opposite corner,
a teenaged girl is scrunched up.
Her thin knees pressed against her flat chest.

She's a dishwater blond with pigtails,
wearing candy-striped short shorts
with a pink halter top.

Something seems off about her,
from her purple toenails to her vacant eyes.
Perhaps, it's the translucent quality of her pale skin.

Or maybe it's that even though
she's heavily lipsticked, mascaraed, and rouged,
she looks all of 14.

“We're headed to Hollywood,”
offers the driver with no prompting.
“I'm off to make my fortune.”

Then turns around in his seat,
points at the girl,
“She's my Publisher's Clearing House, my Lotto Jackpot.”

The girl then takes out a Donald Duck Pez
from her tight pockets
and pops one into her wet, young mouth.

The last time I saw her was at a rest area in Wisconsin.
The driver was helping her
into the passenger side of a semi.

I could just barely
make out the trucker,
a white cap on a big gut.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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