Probably 1978-’79 I was going north on the Interstate somewhere between Waco and Waxahachie preparing to exit when I saw a woman past the ramp trying to thumb a ride. Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole had been at work leaving a string of female corpses up and down the Interstate at the time. When I saw her I split-second decided to take a route further north so’s to give her a ride and get her off the Interstate.
“I saw you swerve back onto the highway to pick me up.” She settled the bag with her belongings onto the floorboard. Attractive, dark skinned lady in her mid-20s with a coy smirk. “You must like my looks.”
“Hi. Where you headed? I just decided to pick you up to tell you about something you might not know. I’ll get off further north than I was going to.” I was wearing a pair of cutoff jeans and she was making herself obvious staring at my lower legs.
“I’ve been on the road for a month. I usually don’t take rides from four-wheelers, but I like your looks.”
I wasn’t in the market for having my looks liked by some female who’d been on the road a month hitching rides with truckers. The whole concept gave me a shrinking sensation in my groin. I explained to her about why I’d picked her up, about how someone was killing women on the Interstate and leaving their bodies cluttering up the landscape from hell to breakfast.
“Where are you from before you started hitching? Can you go back there?”
She settled back and gave my legs a rest, frowning. “I’m from the Kickapoo Reservation.” She named a mid-western state. “My husband was drunk and mowing the grass. Slipped and cut the front half of his foot off.”
That last sentence had a lot of visual impact for me. It drew a cringe and a moment of silent recovery. But after I’d digested it the next question was obvious. “So what are you doing here, thumbing rides?”
“I left before he got out of the hospital.” Her face twisted into a mask of indignation. “I wasn’t going to hang around there carrying that SOB like a turd between two sticks for the rest of his life! I’ve been on the road ever since.”
My exit wasn’t far up the road so I just left it at that. Made a mental note to turn loose of the handle if I ever slipped and fell backward mowing the grass.