There wasn’t anyone in the gas station. It was open, but the counter was deserted. Bo glanced to the window, his beat up car looking lonely beside the pump, then back to the register. There was a jar of ring pops (twenty-five cents) on the counter, and he grabbed two, fishing a couple of quarters from his pocket. Bo didn’t holler to the back of the store, nor did he ring the bell. He was secretly glad for the delay, hoping that by the time Arns (the guy who worked the late shift) showed up, he would have talked himself out of his little trip.
Bo leaned against the counter, sucking on one of the Ring Pops. He looked out the window, between the cigarette posters. He could see the exact spot his car had been five minutes ago, before he’d pulled into the gas station. It was a vacant lot, covered in sparse gravel. There had once been an oak tree there, but all that remained was a mutilated stump. That stupid stump was the equivalent of the Liberty Bell in Raven’s Crossing.
Raven’s Crossing was just about the most boring town imaginable. Even its name was boring. It had, maybe, a thousand people. It had one stoplight. It had broken buildings and cornfields at its borders. It wasn’t like the small towns on television, where everyone was comfortable and friendly. Real small towns weren’t like that; most of the time, they were just plain depressing.
But if there was one thing that Raven’s Crossing had that Bo loved it was that stupid old stump. That tree had been missing for about three years now; it had toppled over when a Jeep had rammed into it. The driver of the jeep had been Nash Stevens.
Bo didn’t know if Nash was his real name, but he couldn’t imagine him as anything else. Charlie, or Ezekiel, or Robby didn’t fit him. He was Nash, like the place in Tennessee, or what you do with your teeth when you’re angry. Nash had been the real cool guy in school. Not the fake cool guys, the ones who played basketball and dated cheerleaders. No. Nash was cool for all the wrong reasons, and his story had become legend in Raven’s Crossing.
Bo only knew the same story as everyone else: Nash had sped down Main Street in his Jeep, his father’s car following him. He’d swerved, hitting the tree. The Jeep had been steaming, totaled. Nash’s dad had panicked for the briefest of instants before Nash had staggered out of the door. His temple had been bleeding, and he’d not been walking straight. But Nash’s dad didn’t let that stop him. He started yelling. Nash, dazed, had yelled back. The cops were called, and Nash socked his dad. He’d spent a night in jail. His dad didn’t bail him out, but Becca Clark’s parents did. The next night, he and Becca Clark were gone. Two months from graduating, they’d deserted Raven’s Crossing, leaving behind nothing but that stupid stump. People said she had a baby six months later. Bo didn’t know if that part was true, but he had always loved the story. In a weird way, it was romantic. Not just in the loving sort of way, but in the fantastic sort of way. The Story of Nash Stevens was like the Tale of Hercules among the local teenagers.
Bo had been fourteen, a freshman, when it happened. Now he was in Nash’s place–a senior, so close to graduating–and he was tempted to follow in Nash’s footsteps. Leaving sounded so nice.
The problem was that Bo wasn’t Nash. He wasn’t dramatic. He wasn’t impulsive. And, above all, he wasn’t with a girl. He didn’t have a Becca Clark to accompany him. He didn’t even have his ex-girlfriend, and she most certainly wasn’t the romantic sort, even if she liked to think she was.
Bo licked his Ring Pop dramatically, tossing the rest of it into the trash. He was starting to feel childish, sucking on candy, planning on going Who Knows Where with hardly anything in the backseat. Where was he planning on going anyways?
You know where.
And a part of him did. From the moment he’d decided to up and run, a location had flit into his mind: the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He’d always loved music. It had been one of the few constants in his life. Somehow, going to the Rock Hall seemed like a strange, spiritual journey–the Mecca of all that Bo considered wonderful: freedom, individuality, love, and fun. They were the cornerstones of rock ‘n’ roll, and the exact things Bo felt he was missing. So maybe by driving up to Cleveland and meandering through the museum, he would find what he was missing. It was a possibility, and besides, where else would he look?
Shut up and be realistic.
Bo’s conscience was starting to get the better of him, and he gritted his teeth. Truthfully, he was being stupid. Leaving was dangerous, even if it was just for a short while.
This won’t end well.
That part made Bo nervous; he had the world’s worst luck. A guy like Nash could run away and make it work. People like Bo only got in trouble.
I’ll end up in a ditch somewhere.
And that thought killed it. He wasn’t going anywhere. He was going to pay Arns (if he ever showed up), and he was going to drive back home. Bo would climb back into bed, put his arms under his head, and stare at the ceiling. He would go to school. He would graduate. He would live his nice, predictable life and leave all the legacies to people like Nash Stevens.
Headlights flashed across the window, and he turned, more out of reflex than real curiosity. A car had pulled up by the side of the road, not quite in the gas station. A young man was exiting from the passenger’s side; the driver was waving and talking, using exaggerated hand motions. The young man only nodded, stoic. He had dark hair that was almost black and a ratty backpack slung over his shoulder. He wore jeans and a yellow, tattered windbreaker.
Bo shrugged, uninterested: That was how he was different from his ex. His ex would have tried to figure out who the young man was or why the car was leaving him behind. She would have made up her own explanation. She liked finding stories everywhere, filling in the details that the world didn’t.
Bo didn’t see the reason for any of that. Details didn’t matter, really. And neither did stories. Not when they were someone else’s business.
He leaned against the counter, starting to feel really impatient. The man started walking towards the gas station, but Bo barely noticed.
After all, he was just a pointless detail.
Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020
TO BE CONTINUED.