Excerpt

Travelers Rest

Keith Lee Morris

January 4, 2016 
The following is from Keith Lee Morris's novel, Travelers Rest. Morris is the author of two previous novels, The Greyhound God and The Dart League King, a Barnes & Noble Discover pick. His short stories have been published in New Stories from the South, Tin House, A Public Space, New England Review, and Southern Review. Morris lives in South Carolina, where he is a professor of creative writing at Clemson University.

There in the ruined hotel in Good Night, Idaho, on his fifth day all alone, during the midst of his evening inspections, 10-year-old Dewey Addison was tiptoeing around the far back end of the fourth floor, when he passed an open doorway and thought he saw something move. He stopped in the hall and stood very still. There was almost no light except up ahead where snowflakes twirled down past a large rectangular window above a stairway landing. The air was colder here than it was on the floors below, and he started to shiver. Ahead of him were the stairs—he could run down to the lobby and escape if he needed to. But then he might never know what the thing was, the thing that moved. What would it feel like to be grabbed from behind, he wondered, in the dark, by someone you didn’t know? The instant the hand touched your neck, the moment you knew there was no escaping—that would have to be the scariest moment ever. He didn’t want anything behind him, so he turned and walked the few steps back to the doorway as quickly and bravely as possible, faced squarely into the room, and was met with a burst of light.

“Who’s there?” a voice said.

It was someone with a flashlight, that much Dewey could figure out, and once he’d gotten his back against the wall of the corridor and a hand up to shade his eyes, he saw that the figure behind the light was nowhere near the size of the frightening intruder he’d imagined—was not even as large as Dewey himself, actually. Then the flashlight beam lurched up and illuminated the face of a boy about Dewey’s age with a sharp nose and a thick head of jet-black hair. This was a surprising development, but a welcome one, at least from Dewey’s perspective.

“Are you real?” Dewey said. When you’d been alone in a dark hotel for four days in the middle of a blizzard, and your mother and father had disappeared without warning, and the only two people to talk to were the weird couple, Hugh and Lorraine, who owned the diner across the snow-filled street, and they weren’t much help, so that you had only your own sometimes overactive imagination to guide you, it became hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t.

The boy pointed the flashlight down at the floor. He pulled his head back sort of like a chicken. “Why wouldn’t I be?” he asked. Then he put the light back on Dewey. “Are you?”

“Sure,” Dewey said.

“You don’t look so good,” the boy said.

Dewey glanced up and down the corridor, wondering if all the noise might attract the attention of some ghostly presence. He lowered his voice a little. “What are you doing here?”

The kid started to take a step toward Dewey but then seemed to think better of it and stayed where he was. “What do you mean?” he said.

“I don’t know,” Dewey said. “I was just asking.” The conversation wasn’t off to a very promising start.

“My name’s Hector Jones,” the boy said. “I’m half Nez Perce Indian.”

“I’m Dewey,” Dewey said.

“Cool,” Hector Jones said. He seemed to want to talk to Dewey the way he would talk to someone in a lower grade, but he was actually smaller than Dewey. “My dad’s full-blood Nez Perce,” Hector Jones said. “My mom’s not anything.”

Dewey looked back up the hall again and Hector pointed the flashlight up that way out of curiosity, but there was nothing there. “Well,” Dewey said, “technically, she has to be something.”

“She’s not anything,” Hector said.

“Oh,” said Dewey. He tried to think of what he knew about the Native American tribe of the Nez Perce. If his father, a cultural anthropologist, were here, he could and almost certainly would tell Dewey in his monotonous professor voice the history of the Nez Perce and where they were located and which tribes they were allied with or opposed to and what their mode of living was and what they were mostly doing nowadays. As it was, he remembered only one thing. “Chief Joseph,” he said.

“Yeah, so?” Hector said. “Everyone knows that.”

“Not where I come from,” Dewey said.

“Where’s that?”

“South Carolina.”

Hector pointed his index finger at Dewey’s chest. “You started the Civil War,” he said.

Dewey acknowledged that his home state had, unfortunately, played a major role in the outbreak of hostilities but denied any personal involvement in the matter. “Anyway, that was a long time ago,” he said.

“Nothing is a long time ago to a Nez Perce,” Hector said. “To answer your question,” he continued, walking back into his room and plopping down on the room’s only bed, “we had to stop here ’cause my dad ran his truck in the ditch.”

“When was that?” Dewey asked.

“Last night.”

“And where’s your dad now?”

“He went to see if he could find someone to pull us out.” Hector narrowed his eyes and cocked his head as if he suspected that Dewey might have some information.

Dewey swallowed hard. His mouth was really dry. He could use a Coke over at the diner about now. “How long ago did he leave?” he asked.

Hector turned off the flashlight and dropped it on the bed and walked over to the window and looked outside. “It was a pretty long time ago,” he said.

It was extra dark in the room now with the flashlight off, so Dewey didn’t so much see as simply understand that Hector was trying to get control of himself, to keep from crying.

“That’s a pretty good flashlight,” Dewey said.

“It’s my dad’s,” Hector said. “He’s a builder, so he only uses good tools.”

“It’s warmer down in my room,” Dewey said.

“My dad told me to wait here,” Hector said.

Dewey was so glad that he’d found Hector Jones, another smart kid, someone who knew something about history and was a Nez Perce Indian, someone who could be his friend. He didn’t want to scare Hector any more than necessary or make him feel sad. But Dewey had been wishing the whole time that there was someone in this place to tell him what was really going on, and now he had his own chance. “Yeah,” Dewey told Hector. “That’s what my dad said, too.”

Hector turned from the window, silhouetted against the snow clouds. “Is your dad missing?” he asked, and he sounded a lot younger all of a sudden, as if Dewey had a younger brother, which he’d always wished he had.

“My mom and my dad,” Dewey said.

Hector just kind of stood at the window. “Oh,” he said.

Dewey grabbed the flashlight off the bed and figured out how to turn it on and shined the light out into the hall. It didn’t seem nearly as scary now that he’d found Hector, but he knew the dangers were just as real. “Come on,” he said.

Hector fell in behind him as they left the room and moved toward the stairs. “What are we doing?” he asked.

Dewey thought hard about the last time he’d seen his mother, there in the hotel room, sitting on the bed with the suitcases, and the last time he’d seen his father, down in the hotel lobby shortly afterward, while Dewey sat on the floor playing jacks and his father went out into the snow, out of the lobby and into the snowy street suddenly as if he were being summoned by someone or something, never to return. Dewey tried to fix a vision of his mother and father in his mind, get them firmly placed there. “We’re going to make a plan to find everybody,” he said. He turned around and looked at Hector. His eyes were dark and shining in the glow of the flashlight. He held his hand out to Dewey, fist closed. Dewey gave him a fist bump.

“Let’s do it,” Hector Jones said.

***

It turned out Hector Jones came armed with a variety of useful tools. In addition to the flashlight, he had a Swiss army knife that featured a bottle opener and scissors, and, best of all, a pellet gun that his father had allowed him to bring into the hotel if he promised not to shoot it. At first the pellet gun had seemed too good to be true, one of the kind of wild stories that other kids his age often made up, even though, Dewey had noticed, they seldom held up to even the most preliminary rounds of questioning. Our Yorkshire terrier killed a python. My dad beat Kobe Bryant at one-on-one when he was in high school. Ashley Bostic told Kaneesha Green that when we got to ninth grade she would have sex with me.

Dewey had become proficient at defusing these stories gently, like time bombs in the movies, snipping each wire very carefully one at a time so that there was no explosion, so that the tellers of the stories weren’t embarrassed by them or too disappointed to find out they weren’t true (it was interesting to Dewey that, most of the time, they actually seemed to believe them). In this case, when Hector claimed to be in possession of a, quote, “Winchester Model 1028 break-barrel pellet rifle with mounted scope that shoots the distance of three football fields,” unquote, Dewey had suggested to him that it probably wasn’t a real pellet gun but probably more like an airsoft rifle, which his friend Hunter had and which his own parents had refused to buy him this very Christmas—at which point Hector, without a word, picked up the flashlight and, with Dewey in tow, marched back down the hall and up the stairs to the room on the fourth floor and produced the gun proudly from where he’d stashed it under the bed. “If I would’ve heard you coming at first, I would’ve shot you with this,” Hector told Dewey impressively.

Back in Dewey’s room, Dewey had convinced Hector, by pointing out to him that his father had told him only that he shouldn’t shoot the gun inside the hotel, to take some target practice out the window. This produced an exhilarating five minutes of fun and forgetfulness until Dewey shot the metal No Parking sign outside the diner and it clanked loud enough to bring Lorraine out the door and into the street, where she looked left and right and then up to the second-floor window, which fortunately was dark because Hector had been smart enough to turn off the flashlight. Seeing Lorraine had the unfortunate effect, though, of bringing Dewey back to reality, and there were a depressing few minutes in which he and Hector sat on the floor under the window and thought, without speaking, about their missing parents, if Hector was thinking the same thing, which Dewey guessed he might be.

But Hector Jones was more of a doer than a thinker, it turned out, or, maybe more accurately, a planner instead of a worrier, so that it wasn’t long until he had laid out, with a great deal of energy, several ideas for finding their parents and/or getting help. The first of these was a highly proactive proposal that involved going door-to-door in the town and using the pellet gun to threaten homeowners into revealing the whereabouts of Hector’s father and Dewey’s mom and dad. Dewey was skeptical of this plan because a) the pellet gun didn’t look enough like a real rifle to scare anyone all that much (an argument that Hector disputed vigorously, insisting that the stock and the barrel were made of, respectively, “real hardwood” and “real gunmetal”) and b) based on what little Dewey had seen of them, the people in the town were very weird, distrustful of and downright hostile toward outsiders, children, even, much less children who showed up at their doors brandishing imitation firearms. Dewey predicted that this proposed course of action would only get them killed.

The second plan was much simpler, and under normal circumstances would probably have been quite effective. It involved using a cell phone to make a video of themselves stranded in the hotel and posting it to YouTube, but under questioning from Dewey, Hector had to admit he lacked the cell phone required to conduct the procedure.

The last of Hector’s plans was to snowshoe back to his dad’s truck at the interstate, use a large rock to bust open the storage box in the truck bed, take out the flares his dad kept there, then come back to the hotel and fire them from the roof. Certain parts of this plan made sense to Dewey and certain parts did not. He began by questioning the part about the snowshoes, which he figured would be hard to obtain, but Hector swore that he could make them out of sticks and shoelaces, and that this was a common skill possessed by Nez Perce Indians. And while Dewey did not doubt Hector’s ability to “bust the box lid open with a big ass rock,” he did have some questions about the flares.

Actually, Dewey was surprised and a little bit ashamed of himself that he hadn’t thought on his own about walking back to the interstate. That seemed like a pretty smart plan. The problem would be getting through the snow, which by now was so deep that Dewey could barely forge his way across the street to the diner. How far was it to the interstate? The best that Dewey could remember, it was maybe three miles, but Hector insisted that he and his father had walked at least ten. This seemed unlikely to the Dooze Man. But it was a long way, and the snow was very high, and it was only getting higher, and it would be pretty tough, he supposed, if you were relying on snowshoes made out of sticks and shoelaces. And if you got stuck out there, you could freeze to death. Still, of all Hector’s plans, this one struck him as the most viable, especially when you considered that if you actually did get the flares from the locked box in the pickup bed, you wouldn’t necessarily have to (even though it would definitely be pretty awesome, you could agree with Hector on that much) bring them back to the hotel to fire them from the roof—you could just fire them off right there by the interstate. And if you made it all the way to the interstate, wouldn’t there be signs of life anyway? Wouldn’t there be cars? Or was this blizzard so massive that it had wiped out the entire American transportation system? It was hard to say, although Hector did report the presence of other vehicles as of the previous evening. It was all pretty exhausting to think about, so they decided to table the discussion till tomorrow.

There were two things that Hector was absolutely adamant about; one was that they should not go ask Hugh and Lorraine (for whom, based on Dewey’s description of their meager involvement in his plight thus far, Hector had developed a deep distrust) for help, and the other was that they needed to search the entire hotel right away in an attempt to “rescue the prisoners.” The fact that Hector kept talking about the situation in those terms gave Dewey the uneasy sense that his new friend still wasn’t quite taking the whole thing seriously, that he had still not reached the point at which he really believed his father was no longer around.

That had been a difficult thing for Dewey as well, but he felt he had, in a way his mom and dad would be proud of, grown up some in the past few days. Definitely he would rather not have had to go about it this particular way. Definitely he would be happy to go back to being a regular ten-year-old at any point his mom and dad decided to show up. But even though, as it turned out, Hector Jones was twelve years old and in middle school, Dewey could see that it was going to be up to him to keep Hector thinking clearly. This business of searching the hotel at night was kind of scary, but now that someone was with him it wouldn’t be as hard or as nerve-racking. He did like the fact that he now had in his possession, or at least in the possession of his companion, a Winchester Model 1028 break-barrel pellet rifle with mounted scope that shot the distance of three football fields, but he wondered if the gun would impress an intruder much if it were pointed at him. And even though he too, in the past few days, had become used to thinking of his mother and father as prisoners in some grand evil scheme, he felt that he and Hector were understanding the word “prisoner” on two entirely different levels. This wasn’t a game of Capture the Flag. It wasn’t a mission on Call of Duty where you got to start over when your dude got killed. Hector still thought his father was going to come walking in the door any minute, and that this would all end up being an adventure. Dewey felt sorry for him for that reason.

And then there was the deal with Hugh and Lorraine. Dewey had made the mistake of saying he had some doubts about Hugh and Lorraine, which was the wrong thing to say to a twelve-year-old, apparently, because you could see the idea kind of take off like a rocket in the mind of Hector Jones, soaring out into the atmosphere a million miles an hour and bursting into flame. Hugh and Lorraine were evil, they were probably zombies or vampires, he would lie in ambush for them waiting quietly and patiently as only a Nez Perce could, and when they appeared he would shoot them between the eyes with his Winchester model 1028 break-barrel etc., etc., etc. Dewey didn’t like to hear Hugh and Lorraine talked about that way—they were, after all, the only people in this frightening place who had been concerned about him even a little bit—but it was his own fault for bringing it up in the first place. It really did bother him, though—when he’d gone to the diner for lunch, he’d heard them back in the kitchen talking about him in whispers, asking each other if they were committed to this thing. What the heck sort of question was that? Of course they should be committed—Dewey was freaking ten years old for crying out loud. Who wasn’t committed to helping a ten-year-old whose mother and father were missing? Yet they acted like it was a really big deal, like they needed to be congratulated for making an effort, needed a pat on the back for offering him a place to go other than the freezing, piece-of-dog-crap hotel. Again Dewey wanted to ask himself—what was wrong with the people in this town? Where were the police, the investigators, the news teams, that Nancy Grace woman his mom claimed to hate but kept on watching? In the past few days, he had felt tragically uninformed regarding the adult world, but he still felt pretty sure this kind of shit just wasn’t supposed to happen.

And he didn’t want to say it out loud or even think it to himself . . . but wasn’t Hugh kind of a chicken? Hugh was a big guy, so presumably pretty strong, and he was probably three times as old as Dewey, and yet he was absolutely, never under any circumstances in the history of the world, going to set even one foot inside this hotel, he had told Dewey already. He, Dewey, had slept in here for four straight nights. It gave one pause.

While the Dooze Man was thinking through all of this, Hector had been readying for the expedition. “Do we have some rope?” he asked Dewey.

“What for?” Dewey said.

Hector gave him a look that said what kind of idiot doesn’t know what you need rope for.

“I don’t think so,” Dewey said.

“That sucks,” Hector said. He looked around with the flashlight beam and thought for a second. “Can I have your shoelaces?”

“For what?” Dewey said.

Hector sighed elaborately. “Dude,” he said, “you’re tripping.”

Dewey offered no response.

“Instead of the rope, dude,” Hector said in a way that suggested he had lost all hope for Dewey both now and in the foreseeable future. “’Cause we don’t have no rope.

Dewey thought about this for a second. “I’m not taking out my shoelaces,” he said.

Hector shook his head. Then there was a rapid fire session of requests for things—did they have extra batteries for the flashlight? No. Backup food supply? No. Not even, like, some potato chips? No. What had Dewey been living on? Food from the diner. From the zombies? Zombie food? Yes. Shit. Water? You could scrape snow off the windowsill and drink it. What were you supposed to do about flushing the toilets, by the way? Keep using different toilets on each floor or better yet go to the diner. Wow. Crazy. Toothbrush? Why? In case it turned out to be an overnight trip. Oh, yes, and toothpaste, and Dewey didn’t mind sharing. How did you rinse your mouth, though? You could scrape snow—yeah, right, off the windowsill.

Hector stood there with the Winchester Model 1028 break-barrel pellet gun in one hand and Dewey’s toothbrush and toothpaste in the other, Dewey shining the flashlight on him. “Are you ready?” Hector said.

“Sure,” Dewey told him.

They headed up to the fourth floor first, Hector leading the way, Dewey behind him with the light. Ghostly Hector, climbing the creaky stairs in the jerky motion of the flashlight beam, like the doomed character in a horror film. It was spookier than Dewey had thought it would be, and for a minute he wished he were alone again.

They didn’t find much. Everything was dark, and it was cold from holes in the roof, and there were cobwebs everywhere, and in the stairwell the dried-up remains of a plant in a swinging pot scared the crap out of them when Dewey hit it with his head. Only as they were walking down the long fourth-floor corridor did Dewey feel something like a shushing in his blood, a little thrum of particles, and from somewhere in his vision he conjured a dim image of his mother, so lightly imprinted that he couldn’t be sure it wasn’t a strange shadow from the flashlight or a moment in which he had drifted into dream. This had happened over and over—the momentary appearance of his mother or father, cruel mirages. Now a dim outline of his mother there in the hallway . . . but then it was like he’d rubbed his eyes and opened them and nothing was there except for a phone, an old black phone of the kind with the separate receiver and mouthpiece. It was the same kind they used in It’s a Wonderful Life. This was one of the few things his parents agreed on—they would search the TV listings every Christmas to find out when it was showing. His mother knew practically every line in the entire movie, and his father claimed to watch it mostly to humor her, but once, at the part where George Bailey hugs his son real hard after he thinks they’ve lost all their money and he won’t be able to take care of his family anymore, Dewey saw his father take his glasses off and wipe his eyes with the back of his hand and real quick put the glasses on again. He thought of It’s a Wonderful Life now, the snowstorm that hits Bedford Falls, and he imagined how easy it would be if you had your own guardian angel to tell you what the hell was going on and what important lessons you were supposed to learn from it. It turned out real life wasn’t like a movie.

The fourth floor produced nothing of any particular value, and it was colder than the rest of the hotel, and Hector worried that bats might fly in through the holes in the roof, and even though Dewey pointed out that such a thing was unlikely to occur during a snowstorm, they agreed that the fourth floor was not a good place to be. They went back down to the third floor, which Dewey said he had already investigated recently, so they went to the second floor, which was Dewey’s own floor and for that reason pretty familiar, so they were headed down the stairs to the lobby when Dewey shined the flashlight beam toward the old fireplace at the far end of the room and there stood a large man with long black hair, his back turned to Dewey and Hector.

Dewey came to a dead stop, gripping the banister hard with his free hand, still directing the flashlight steadily at the man, who paid no attention to the flashlight beam, or to Dewey and Hector. Hector stumbled against Dewey and let out a yelp and both of them fell, the flashlight beam careening around the walls until Dewey got hold of the banister again and steadied himself, Hector now on the stairs just below him.

The man, who was now walking slowly across the room toward the long desk where Dewey’s father had checked them in on the day they arrived, when the hotel looked different and there were actual people, wore a dull-looking brown coat, old jeans rolled up at the cuffs, and a pair of heavy boots that made no sound as he moved across the floor. His long black hair spilled out from beneath a wide-brimmed hat with a leather band around the middle. He held, Dewey saw now, a long pistol in his right hand. This should have been terrifying, Dewey realized, but he felt that he had seen it before—the man’s total unawareness of any outside presence, his quiet, ghostly movements, the way all his energy seemed to be directed toward something inside his own head—it was the same way his father looked when he last saw him in this same place, just before he walked out the door and disappeared. Grimly determined, composed and slow and calm, the man advanced a few more steps toward the desk, the muscles along his jaw twitching just slightly, and raised the pistol as if he were pointing the barrel straight at someone’s head—but there was no one there. Dewey tensed, preparing for the blast.

“That’s my dad,” Hector said, seemingly out of nowhere. Dewey had forgotten Hector was even there with him on the stairs. “Dad!” Hector shouted, his voice loud and hoarse in the whispery quiet of the lobby, the strange eerie scene playing out in the flashlight, and before Dewey could grab hold of his arm, Hector was bounding down the stairs toward his father, who still held the gun outstretched in his hand, the tip of the barrel waving slowly back and forth, like the menacing head of a snake about to strike.

Later, Dewey would have a hard time piecing together exactly what happened next, because it happened very fast. Hector’s father stepped backward suddenly, his head and shoulders drooping, and lowered the gun to his side. He swiveled and walked toward the front entrance, and just as he did so, with Dewey shouting to him to stop, Hector barreled across the room toward his father, who paid no attention. Then, right when Hector seemed about to intercept his father at the door, all the lights of the lobby—the huge old chandelier and the lamps along the walls—erupted in a blinding whiteness all at once, like a giant sunburst, so that Dewey became dizzy there on the stairs, his eyes open but not seeing anything, and there was a rush of air as if someone had thrown open all the doors and windows to the blizzard outside, and then Dewey found himself sitting on the stairs in the pitch dark, a dark so intense and full that at first he couldn’t even find the switch on the flashlight with his shaking hand.

When he did, and the switch flicked and the beam flashed, what he saw in the pool of light was Hector curled up on the dusty floor in the space where his father had been, lying completely still. He wasn’t dead. Dewey knew that. But when he knelt to help Hector up and placed his hand under his arm, the word that crossed Dewey’s mind was “corpse-like.”

But Hector was fine. He was all right. He sat up and put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. “What happened?” he moaned.

Dewey shined the flashlight around the room, searching for any sign of Hector’s father. Everything looked the same as it usually did in the lobby, or the way it had ever since his mother and father disappeared—the dilapidated furniture, the peeling walls, the sagging ceiling.

“I’m not sure,” Dewey said. There was no sign that anything had happened except for a slight smell of smoke in the air.

“I don’t feel real good,” Hector said.

Dewey picked up the pellet gun and helped Hector to his feet and they stumbled up the stairs. They returned to Dewey’s room and he was straightening up the extra bed for his friend when Hector brought up the subject Dewey had been dreading.

“Where’s my dad?” he asked.

And Dewey had to explain to Hector that it was probably an illusion, that his father probably hadn’t been there at all. It was the kind of thing that happened in this place. Hector thanked him for making up the bed and then he got under the blankets with his pellet gun where he could hold it, and Dewey went to his bed on the other side of the room and lay there trying to go to sleep but he couldn’t because he could still hear Hector crying. And then after a while he heard Hector’s footsteps and he looked up and saw him shivering there in the glow from the streetlight.

“I’m really cold,” Hector said.

Dewey told him to get the blankets from the other bed and they could pile all of them up together and both sleep in this one.

“I’m really, really cold,” Hector said again when he lay down and started pulling the blankets around him.

Dewey remembered the corpse-like feel of that arm, which was not like anything he had felt before. “It’ll be OK,” he said, which was something his mother used to tell him a lot.

They lay there for a long time and Dewey watched the snow fly by out the window and the bed shook just slightly from Hector’s shivering. Earlier, it had looked like the storm might be ending, but now it didn’t look that way at all.

It seemed like a long time later when Hector said, “Do you think so?”

Dewey was almost asleep. “Yes,” he said, and he reached over and patted the blanket where it was pulled up over Hector’s shoulder. He could feel him shivering under there

“OK,” Hector said.

Then Dewey listened in the dark for a while, and Hector’s breathing grew quiet and he wasn’t crying anymore, and Dewey knew that he was asleep.

And he fell asleep himself. He dreamt that he and Hector Jones were walking along the highway. It was out in the huge open area of South Dakota or Montana, one of the long, endless stretches he and his parents had passed through on the way west, Dewey sitting in the back seat with his head against the window, amazed at the distance he could see, the earth stretching out so far you could almost imagine its curvature, how it dipped slightly out there on the horizon, turning over into tomorrow, traveling through cold, lifeless space, the stars like little pricks of fire too far away to warm anything. Hector carried his pellet gun as they walked, and Dewey’s shoes scuffed through the hard rocks, and the wind blew, and it wasn’t snowing but it was going to snow. He and Hector didn’t say anything to each another but it was OK, they knew what they were walking toward. And then a car slowed down on the highway and the window rolled down and Dewey’s mother was sitting in the passenger seat and staring hard out the window, searching for something, and his father, who was driving the car, asked his mother urgently what she saw. But she didn’t see anything. Dewey waved and waved, he shouted till he couldn’t shout anymore, and Hector shouted, too, their voices rang like bells in the air, but his mother didn’t hear, and as the car passed slowly, slowly, slowly, she rolled up the window and the car went on. Dewey and Hector walked along the highway and the day was growing dark, and up ahead there was a cold, purple sky above the mountains.

When he woke in the morning, Dewey peeked out from under the covers to see the ice on the window and the snow flying down. He was in the usual place. When he turned over to see how Hector was doing, Hector wasn’t there.

 

From TRAVELERS REST. Used with permission of Little, Brown & Company. Copyright © 2016 by Keith Lee Morris.


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