BAREFOOT ON THE ASPHALT

Submitted into Contest #110 in response to: Start your story with a vehicle pulling over for a hitchhiker.... view prompt

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Mystery Suspense

BAREFOOT ON THE ASPHALT 

What struck me, but I can say the first thing I saw of him were his bare feet on the asphalt which, at that time____it was summer, it was about 1PM, had to be hot. Two large, very big bare feet very white too, as I was going to enter the highway, with my heavy load of goods to be transported not exactly near. The boy was disheveled, dressed unkempt, his trousers and his shirt looked dirty, he had long and matted hair, dirty they too. But what was even more incredible was that he was holding a pair of gym shoes in his hand. The shoes were white, perfectly clean and seemed new. Looking at his bare feet and at his shoes too I was completely stunned, so I slowed down, almost stopping. “ Can you give me a ride?” The boy asked. “ But why are you barefoot ? I see you have shoes” I could not help but ask. “ Ah, will you give me a ride? Then I’ll tell you,I ‘ll explain” he said. I opened the heavy door for him to go up. The boy had approached but had not yet hinted at making the leap that was necessary to climb( go up), and here came the girl, very young, barely dressed, in shorts and a very small top. But she, the girl, wore her shoes, indeed she wore her boots, reed boots that reached her knee. The girl with red boots kept was holding kea big , very hairy black dog and a sheep on the leash. “ Oh, she is Lucy “ the boy said “ by the way, my name is Peter…..here, can she, indeed they, even the animals, go up too, right?” He said, jumping on the truck, and motioning for the girl to follow him.” You ‘ll stay a little tight” I said, while the girl made the dog and the sheep get on, before she got on too. “ Don’t worry if we’re tight, don’t worry “ Peter said, who sat down next to me , and took ( made) the dog to sit on his legs ( knees). The girl sat down next to him , and the sheep crouched at her feet.

“ But isn’t hot wearing boots   in summer?” I had to say. ( I was spontaneous to say). “ Oh, but not at all. These are special boots” The girl said. “ How do you mean with special?” I asked, more and more incredulous. “ These are cooling boots, they are ventilated inside” she said. “ Ah, here” I only replied.  I did not feel like investigating what were the cooling boots to wear in summer. The sheep began to bleat.  “Oh, poor beast, it must be tight” I said. “ But no, the sheep is very comfortable” Lucy said. “ Ah, it likes so much to stay on my boots” she added. “ Pugi Pugi is bleating because it is hungry “ Lucy explained and she took a very stuffed sandwich out of her bag ____I saw out of the corner of my eye that the sandwich was dripping mayonnaise and a green sauce_____and she put it in front of the mouth of the sheep, which grabbed it and devoured it in a short time.  “ Ah, I didn’t really know that sheep liked sandwiches with the mayonnaise “ I could not help but say, more than amazed. “ Ah, Pugi Pugi likes very much sandwiches stuffed with mayonnaise, olives and tomatoes” Lucy said. “ But look…so this sheep is called Pugi Pugi…..And this very hairy dog, what is its name? “ I asked. “ Its name is Brown” Peter said, smoothing the dog’s head, while the animal was licking his face.

“  Now you know the name of all of us…..then, what is your name? “ Peter asked me. “ My name is Jeanne” “ Ah, sure ….your name is Jeanne…..Jeanne….” He kept on repeating my name several times, while he was looking at me very attentively. I felt more than I saw his scrutinizing gaze on me.  Even though, busy as I was driving, I could only glance at him fleetingly , and peek at him out the corner of my eye, I felt ( perceived) his gaze glued on ( to) me.  Oh, nothing new for me, I was used to it. He ( Peter) wasn’t the first to be baffled by my physique. “ Listen….Listen to me, Jeanne….I would like to ask you…” He started to say, in a voice that revealed embarrassment , hesitation, even fear. “ But …but you are a transsexual, aren’t you? “ He finally managed to ask. “ That is, now you are a woman, but before you were a man “ The incredible barefoot boy said., The first answer I gave to the fearful, frightened boy was a thunderous laugh, which made me lift my hands from the steering wheel . “ Ah, sorry if I laugh, but it will be at least a few thousand times that I hear the same question asked to me, and always, note well, from men! Ah! Ah! Ah!” I could not help but laugh, as always when, with a more or less hesitation tone, with a more or less frightened voice, I happened to be asked that question. “ On, Peter, but are these questions to ask a lady?” The girl said, in a reproachful tone.  She now was holding the sheet in her arms. The tender animal was watching me with its cryptic eye, if it wanted to ask me the question too, which Peter had done. “ Oh, I know very well that I have a physique that can be deceiving . But I assure you  that I was born a woman and a woman I intend to stay!” I said, bursting out laughing again. “ My physique so well placed, sturdy and strong, ah, if it caused me some problems, some difficulties when I was twenty years old, now that I’m over forty, do you know what I tell you? I consider it a blessing , a real fortune! With the work I do a physique like mine is of a great help to me”

The very hairy of black hair Brown , which was on Peter’s legs, stretched a paw on my shoulder, advanced with its muzzle towards my head, and began to lick my ear. “ Oh, Peter, your dog is a treasure, but I have to drive” I said. “ Okay “ Peter said “ Jeanne, how long have you been doing this job? There aren’t many women driving trucks like this “ he observed . “ In fact you took me for a transsexual ! Ah! Ah! Ah!” I began to laugh again. The dog began to bark, the sheep began to bleat . Lucy asked: “ How about listening to some music?” She turned on the radio and stopped on a channel which sounded music that seemed a clatter of metal sheets interspersed with hammer blows. “ Where are you going, dear guys?” I could barely say in the middle of that din. “  We would like to go to Vienna” Lucy said, while she was again taking Pugi Pugi, which was enjoying another sandwich stuffed with mayonnaise and dripping mayonnaise too.

“ Oh, but you hadn’t told me how long you have been doing this work  Peter protested.  “ Ah, for about ten years now.  It happened by chance that I started to drive trucks, but I like this work. It is hard, tiring, but it allows me to travel all over Europe” I said. “ Ah, Jeanne, it’s true that we would like to go to Vienna, but for us it is fine ( okay) even if you leave us first. Oh, where do you have to go?”  Peter asked.

“ Dear guys, I have to take my load of goods to Budapest. I will not pass through Wien, but I pass through Innsbruck. I can take you all the way to Innsbruck.”  I said. “ Oh, that is fine with us…well…But then, do you know what I think? We could almost as well come all the way to Budapest with you” Peter spoke that he seemed almost satisfied, indeed happy. “ But I want to go to Wien!” Lucy screamed, and the sheep bleated as if to underline the girl’s words, or perhaps to say that it too, Pugi Pugi, wanted to go to Wien.

“ As you like, if you want to come all the way to Budapest, it is okay for me” I said, resigned. “ Well, very well! Ah, listen to me Jeanne…what are you carrying?” And while Peter made this question the sheep bleated again. Pugi Pugi, with its neck , its muzzle stretched , gave a long bleat , as if she(it) wanted to complain. Its bleat sounded even like a cry. . But you see, it took the sheep started complaining, crying, right now that ( when) I should have said what I was carrying ….and I was almost worried to have to say it. I didn’t answer, I remained silent, among the bleating of the sheet, and even the dog had begun to bark, while the rattle of what was music for Lucy was raging at full blast. “ Hey, Jeanne…what are you carrying in your truck trailer? Don’t you want to tell us? Won’t you have a load of weapons, eh?” Peter insisted . “ No, don’t worry. I ‘m not carrying weapons “ I said. “ But you, Peter…you still hadn’t told me why you walk barefoot” I said to buy time. “ Ah, I walk barefoot because I like very much to feel the contact with the ground under my feet “ “ You must also like to feel the contact with the hot asphalt” I could not help but observe.  “ Oh, but we, Lucy and I, mostly walk on unpaved road. We come on the paved road just when we are looking for a ride” The boy said.

“ Ah, well, I understand” I said, looking at his feet. Now he wore his white shoes. “ Then, Jeanne, what are you carrying into the big back of your truck?” He asked again. I was almost afraid to talk about I was carrying., since those two very young guys had to be animal rights activists for sure, and vegetarian, if not vegan….so I could imagine how they react when they knew what the cargo I was carrying consisted of. “ Come on, go and tell us what you’re carrying! We’re curious!” Peter insisted. “ Really Jeanne, I want to know too! I’m dying of curiosity!” Lucy rang. I took a deep breath, I needed to cheer up myself. “ Well, I’m carrying chickens. Hens and eggs, to be exact. “ I said in one breath, while a car was zigzagging in the fast lane “ Hens?  Do you mean alive hens?” Peter screamed. “ Sure, they are alive”   “And…..you are taking the hens to Budapest from….where did you start from?” Peter was more and more incredulous. “ I loaded the hens at Rufina, in the province of Florence. These hens are a local specialty, so much specialty  that they are in demand from all Europe. I brought them also to Paris, even to Berlin.”

“ Uhmmm….are they locked up in a cage, right? The hens loaded there behind into the big wagon of your truck’” Peter snorted, looking at me with bad eyes. “ Oh, and you must have given the poor animals some sedatives to keep them good, maybe even some sleeping pills!” Lucy shrieked, starting to kick with her red boots.  “ Or even worse! ( But it can be even worse) Yeah, instead of being locked  in a cage, they, the poor hens, could have been boxed! They could have been locked in sealed boxes!” the two young demons shouted together. “ Guys, stay calm, please! I assure you that the hens are fine. We have thought of everything. We have taken all possible precautions so that they could be at ease during the journey ( travel), which is quite long “   I said.“ Oh, sure you…you worry about the poor hens coming alive in Budapest, but you didn’t care a little, even a bit, how they will be, what hardships they will have to endure!” Lucy screamed, in a shrill voice. “ Oh, and I bet that you assumed that some hens will arrive dead at their destination, didn’t you? What does it matter to you?” Peter said, looking at me with a scary grin. “ Guys, calm down, please. I assure you that the hens I’m carrying are fine. You don’t have to worry. After all you will be able to see with your own eyes when we will stop for a refreshment break.” I said, trying to stay calm too, that those two were starting to worry me seriously. So I began to tell them about the wonderful hens of Rufina, a breed that had been obtained by a zoologist from Rufina through skilful crosses and also DNA modifications. The result of many years of study and experiments were these beautiful large and tall hens, very robust, and which also laid eggs much bigger than other hens. These wonderful hens had white plumage with multicolored spots, which was very unique. And a very wonder was the crest of the Rufina’s hens. They had a high, scalloped crest  that looked like a crown. Everyone knew and praised very much the superfine crest of the Rufina’s hen. It was there who had composed verses, songs on the Rufina’s hen superfine crest, poetic works which  had been publicly  proclaimed in the squares of several towns and cities of the region, whose authors had received a highly coveted and prestigious award from the president of the region. The prestigious award, called THE GOLDEN BADGE, had been set up precisely to enhance  the typical products of the region , and consequently the poetic works dedicated to these products they were in great demand. But Peter and Lucy didn’t seemed interested in the importance of the Rufina’s hen as typical product, whose superfine crest was sung in verses which were rewarded. The guys only remarked that the prize should have been given to the hens, rather than the authors of the verses. They kept on insisting that they wanted to see the hens, since they were very worried about them. They couldn’t wait until the first motorway diner, so that I was forced to stop in the emergency lane. When I opened the wagon of the truck to allow the guys to do their inspection I was afraid that those two would get the hens out of the cage. I couldn’t imagine what awaited me inside the trailer compartment of the truck. Tucked, almost crumpled, between the cage where the hens were and the eggs container there was a man elegantly dressed, in a suit and tie, but without shoes. That man was dead. “ Oh,you didn’t tell us that , in addition to live animals, you also carry dead man”Peter observed, with a grin. “ She is a murderess! She is a murderess!” Lucy started to scream, while the dog had started to bark, and the sheep to bleat. Some cars stopped to come to see what was happening. The police was called, and I was arrested for carrying a cadavre into the wagon of my truck. That dead man was later found to have died of natural death. He was a complete stranger to me. But they, the investigators, said that someone, maybe someone who was employed in a funeral home, had loaded the dead man into my truck carriage to play a joke on me.

September 11, 2021 03:07

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