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No Good Guys in This Story (1972)

No Good Guys in This Story (1972)

©1972, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1972) No good guys in this story. Unpublished short story.







No Good Guys in This Story

By Dallas Denny


The mercury vapor lamp was on the verge of burning out. It sputtered and blinked, casting a flickering light on the intersection. The hitchhiker stood on the curb of the entrance ramp of the interstate highway, shivering slightly, wearing only jeans and t-shirt. His bare arms shone eerily purple in the light.

A car left the exit ramp opposite and pulled into the filling station across the way. A single man got out of the car and went to the rest room. The hitchhiker watched dis­interestedly as the man returned to his car, got in, and headed up the entrance ramp. The hitchhiker stuck out his thumb insolently as the automobile—it was a Buick—approached him. The car passed slowly, the driver studying the hitchhiker, and then stopped. The back-up lights came on and the car rolled to meet the hitchhiker with the driver’s arm thrown across the top of the front seat, The hitchhiker had lifted his bag to his shoulder, but instead of running to meet the car, as hitchhikers are wont to do, stood in place until the car stopped opposite him. The driver reached across and unlocked the door. The hitchhiker opened the door and got in.

The driver and his passenger sat in silence for fifteen miles. Finally, the driver: “How far you going?”


“I’m going through there.”


“Uh… I couldn’t read your sign. It was too dark, you know.” This almost apologetically.

“It says, ‘Help me see my mother’.”

“Oh. Your mother lives in Memphis?”

“No, She lives in Connecticut.”


The driver decided he could risk a glance at his passenger. In the moonlight he saw a lanky youth with his hair pulled back into a ponytail and stuck down the back of his t-shirt. He found himself wondering how far into the shirt the hair went.

The hitchhiker hadn’t been so covert when he had appraised the driver. He had simply stared at the suit, the belly, the balding head with a leer, and then passed his gaze on to some­thing more interesting. The driver had been acutely aware of the look. It had made him want to squirm. Now, as the hitch­hiker turned his head to glare at the driver, his head snapped back around to the front.

Several times during the night the driver attempted to start a conversation with his passenger but succeeded only in eliciting stony silence or monosyllabic replies. He gave up, and they drove silently across the Texas panhandle. The driver had a hard time staying awake, and several times ran the passenger-side wheels onto the shoulder as he dozed. The hitchhiker showed no sign of being bothered by this, nor did he offer to drive.

The eastern sky was beginning to glow when the Buick pulled into a service station. The hitchhiker sauntered over to the refreshment shed and bought a soda and a pack of crackers. He glanced at the progress of the refueling operation, de­cided he could risk a trip to the bathroom. In the bath­room he pulled a butt from a joint from his pocket and lit it. A little later he swaggered out of the rest room and towards the pumps. The Buick, silhouetted against the morning sun, was just pulling out of the drive. With a cry the hitchhiker raced across the lot, but the automobile was lazily accelerating up the ramp of the Interstate. It was too far away to see the license number.

“That motherfucker!” He shouted to the Good Old Boy who was the attendant. “He’s got my bag!”

The Good Old Boy pulled a rag from his pocket and began polishing the already-shining pumps. “Said you were the motherfucker. Said he didn’t like you. Said you wouldn’t talk to help him keep awake and he figured you owed him for the ride.”


“That’s right. Said he didn’t much like you anyway. There’s a phone in there, in case you got a dime and want to call the police.”

The hitchhiker dismissed that idea with a wave of his hand. He walked over to the entrance ramp and stuck out his thumb.

“Said he didn’t like him anyway,” muttered the Good Old Boy as he bent to wipe nonexistent dust from the mag wheels of his Chevelle.