Hitchhiker 2 - Marvin


By Mark Haugen
Smashwords Edition
Copyright 2011 Mark Haugen

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

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Marvin Rey was about as normal of a guy as I’d ever picked up thumbing a ride. Then again, I should have listened to a former girlfriend in college who once told me: “It’s the normal ones you have to look out for.” It’s why she liked me, she said, “because you’re about as far from ‘normal’ as I’ve ever seen.” She was a wise one she was – so wise she ultimately dumped me a year later.

Marvin, all 260 pounds of him, put the Galaxy 500’s shock absorbers to the test when he hopped in at the Phillips 66 station in Madison, S.D. He was headed to Watertown. I was on my way to Milbank, so I was pleased, as usual, to have some company.

An out-of-work factory worker from a recently-closed snowmobile plant, he was on the hunt for the next job opening – of which a sincere-sounding bar-fly had assured him could be found in the town of water. Mid-April, he wore a beaten-up leather jacket that he no doubt wore no matter what month it was the middle of. Marvin also wore hiking boots the size of small canoes, blue jeans and black cap with gold letters signifying Korean War veteran. I was hip for some good war stories, but he either had none or wished not to share them.

I did learn the basics about him though: An SDSU grad, played a little football, married, divorced, two kids he hadn’t seen in a decade. He’d never drank a drop of alcohol in his life nor smoked a cigarette nor eaten a hamburger. He liked Aerosmith better than the Rolling Stones, rhubarb pie was his favorite dessert, and he only drank whole milk, “none of that one-percent crap.”

Those were the details I was able to glean over the first twenty miles of highway before we turned north onto Interstate 29. Then he pulled a pen and small ratty spiral notebook from inside the pocket of his jacket and stared out the window, annoying me by clicking his pen.

“Whatcha writing?” I felt obliged to ask.

“A list,” he said.

“A list of what?”

“A list of people who might assassinate me.”

An uneasy glance told me he had about 20 pages filled in that three-by-five-inch notebook.

“You must have 200 names there,” I speculated out loud.

“Only 147,” he said. “I write big.”

“And they all want to kill you?”

“Oh, I don’t know that they all WANT to kill me, but one of them WILL someday and I want the authorities to know who the prime suspects are.”

“You seem pretty sure about that,” I said.

“I am. I’ve always known that someday I would be assassinated. There’s a target on the back of my head.”

I reflexively, but nonchalantly, looked over my shoulder and out the back window. Seeing only the white minivan with a family from Wisconsin that we passed a few miles back, I said: “Well, you should be safe for a while.” And I smiled.

He looked at me, crinkled his forehead and asked: “What’s your name again.”

“Lincoln Anderson. You can call me L.A.”

“I’ll go with Lincoln Anderson,” he said and clicked his pen again and scribbled in the notebook.

“Did you just write down my name?” I asked incredulously.


“Why?” I was flummoxed, for I didn’t recall having ever been added to anyone’s list for anything, much less their “people who might assassinate me” list.

“I have my reasons,” he said.
“Which are?” I said, my voice rising.

“For one, you pick up hitch-hikers. That’s a dangerous tendency. People with dangerous tendencies can be, well, dangerous.”

“So I do something nice for you, and you’re going to hold it against me?”


“But why would I want to assassinate you?”

“You tell me.”

“I have no reason! Why would anyone?”

“It’s just a premonition I’ve had for several years. Don’t you ever consider the likely cause of your death? How you will die?”

“I guess I’ve always figured it would be in a car accident, given all the miles I drive. Or a heart attack, given my family history.”

“So you have your suspicions just like me.”

“But you seem to dwell on it a lot more – carrying that notebook around and all.”

“Just being cautious and helpful to the authorities.”

“But, still, WHY would somebody kill you?”

“Seems I rub people the wrong way sometimes,” he understated.

“Probably by writing their names in your notebook.”

“Don’t make me put a star by your name.”

“What’s a star mean?”

“Means ‘most likely’ candidates.”

“How many people have stars?”

“My ex has two.”
“If I promise not to assassinate you will you erase my name out of your book?”


“Why not?”

“It’s in ink.”

He saw me roll my eyes. Then I saw him add a star next to my name.

He was really getting on my nerves. He should have added two.