Think ahead two moves.
|Delaney stood in front of his open car hood, steam rising in clouds from the radiator. He shaded his eyes and looked around at the flat landscape. He was a long way from the South Side of Chicago. But he couldn’t go back, at least not for now. His father had been like that, too. Here today, gone tomorrow. His grandfather, too, from what Delaney heard. Maybe the whole family, going back who knows how long.
Delaney heard the chopper before he saw it, the throaty roar of a Harley, you couldn’t miss it. As it approached, the motorcycle veered off the road toward him and skidded to a choking halt in the dust, a foot away. Delaney didn’t flinch. The biker cut his engine. No helmet. The dirt on the biker’s face reached all the way to the line of the bandana across his forehead.
The biker dismounted and stumbled, careening into Delaney and then pushing himself gingerly away. “Sorry, man,” he said. “Riding for hours. Wobbly legs.” He gestured at Delaney’s car. “Trouble?”
Delaney said, “I could use a ride to the nearest town, wherever that is.”
“I can’t help you,” said the biker, nodding back at his Harley. “No room. But I’ll stop somewhere and let ‘em know you’re out here.”
Delaney looked at the bike’s empty rear shotgun seat. “Yeah, thanks,” he said. The biker kicked his machine back to life and roared away, spattering Delaney with gravel.
Delaney traveled light, but his cars were old and he always packed a Triple A card. He reached for his wallet. It was missing. Delaney looked up the road at the biker disappearing into the shimmering distance. He looked down at his other hand holding the biker’s wallet and thought, Like my daddy said, “Never pick a pickpocket.”
(Word count: 300)