Setting the brakes, she turned it off and quipped, “Well, your first installment is I get the sleeper in back and you have a choice of a sleeping bag on the picnic table or this seat depending on your desire for fresh air.
“Let’s get freshened up then eat.”
A while later they met at the picnic table as Tony spread out their feast. He’d made certain they had a variety, Nodding, she seemed pleased with the selection as she bit into the sub-sandwich.
“You know, Tony,” Rose said in between chews. “We are about seventeen hours outside of Philly where I will drop my load. I don’t know if they assigned me a return load yet, but likely not. I usually get a few days in town before heading back, though I didn’t ask for that this time. What are your plans?”
“Do you want to meet up with my marine buddy? When I was in, he was my Lieutenant Colonel David Welling, and I saved his bacon during a resistance battle in the Middle East. Like that area will ever do anything but battle with their next ideological foes. There is something comforting about having your two best snipers covering your backside when a high level meeting with the insurgent leaders goes south. Anyway, the last time I spoke to Welling, he was up for a shot at Brigadier General. I do know he is straight as an arrow and can’t be bought. Someone once cracked, there goes the Duke of Welling because he was the one always being sent in to negotiate. The Duke moniker stuck; it’s what we’ve always called him.
“I don’t know, Rose. That conversation with JOAN really has me worried. I wouldn’t know if I was speaking to a person or a bot. I do know my job, but who to tell is a real sticky question. I was told to go to Washington, so that’s where I’m going. I can jump out in Philly and cut you free. Maybe I can do the o ld hobo thing and catch a train without surfacing on the IoT grid. But I’ve had pretty good luck so far with hitchhiking at truck stops, so maybe I’ll stick with that.”
“It is your choice, Tony, but now I want to see you succeed. Something bad is out there, and it creeps me out too! I am finished and ready to turn in. You think about it, and we can talk tomorrow on the ride, after breakfast.”
“Let me get that sleeping bag from you. I think I’d like the outside tonight.”
They walked back to the truck, and Rose jumped in to grab the bag and a pillow. She handed it over, then gave him a tentative kiss on the cheek.
“Rest well, my singing buddy. We’ll figure out some way for you to see the right people.”
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