A teenaged ThunderCloud, excommunicated from his Cherokee people, survives in a world full of strangers and learns to handle responsibility as a man. On his journey home to make amends, he gathers a renegade gaggle of odd experiences and people.
Born in Bogota, Colombia... traveled in 39+ countries (did public speaking in 17)... worked in sales 39 years... now writing and ghosting novels and biographies across several genres full-time since 2009, consistently earning five-stars on review. My books inspire, entertain, and enlighten.
Strangers that come and go in our lives bring their stories with them, adding to our own.
In this snippet, Thundercloud (self-nicknamed 'TC'), hitchhiking away from his excommunication from his Principal People (the Cherokee), meets up with a trucker who likes jewelry...
Talking to truckers turned out to be one of the best short-term schools for TC. From them, he learned about the diversity of American dialects and customs, as well as many other things. The slower pace of the rigs allowed more time for conversations, albeit at high volume, to overcome droning engine and gear-shifting noise. The truckers that he met became personal mentors for his learning about life in the world, about the rules of the road, and, at the least, about government regulations of highway freight-hauling. When he stepped down from the high cab-over cab of the last truck he had flagged a ride with at a truck stop just east of Indianapolis, Indiana, he did so at the edge of the location’s large parking lot. The driver had told him that this station allowed covert spotters—guys paid by his company to see those company drivers adhered to a company policy forbidding anyone from taking on riders. He had picked him up in the middle of a thunderous rainstorm, taking pity on the soaking-wet, young man simply looking for a ride on the Interstate. He had broken the rules, but he knew things would have been far worse for a hapless youngster like TC had a state trooper found him hitchhiking where it was illegal. It had been raining so hard, and the driver—he said his name was Bob Oberfeld—told him that he had boys at home about his age. He took a chance that just maybe once, he’d get lucky trying to help someone who looked like he needed some. Oberfeld, a second-generation trucker—his dad still roamed the highways—was tall at six feet-four and rotund at the belly line. He wore a smile that matched his size. A father of six, he was the type who make the best of any situation, including TC’s rain-soaked night. He and TC talked across a variety of subjects, including the only sore one he would admit to: He couldn’t get ahead money-wise. He invited the young man’s advice if he had any to give, saying that’s all he expected in exchange for the sorely needed ride; that, and some company. TC told Oberfeld that he could not promise that what he knew would be at all helpful to him, adding, “Money is not something I know a whole lot about.” The 18-wheel jockey laughed, and his belly shook. He said that he had allowed for that, gauging how young the lad appeared to be; also, that he was more about wanting some good company to let the miles drift by on a dreary night. As they put mileage behind them, Oberfield shared that he had recently been to “the dogs” (dog races) in Mexico and Florida, and, earlier, to “the horses” in New York. He admitted that he always lost money there, although he did not bet much. He confessed that what bothered him most was that he could not seem to win when others around him did it all the time. “Guess that’s what drives me to do it so much,” he offered to TC as he revealed that lately he had wagered more than usual, and had lost again. Consequently, he had been putting in more time at the wheel, away from his boys, to cover his gambling losses. His picking up TC, he explained, was also a gamble that he could turn his bad luck around by doing good for another. When TC told him that he had never seen “the dogs” or “the horses,” Oberfeld looked at him as if he was some queer breed of alien. TC almost lost his ride over that admission; that is until Oberfield spotted the gold amulet hanging around TC’s neck—a smallish piece of rough gold strung onto a leather lariat that was a souvenir from Grandfather Gawonii. Besides his knife, he also had been allowed to keep that with him. (Apparently, honoring a grandfather’s wishes outshined a grandchild’s transgressions.) Oberfeld was red-neck through and through, but he had a soft spot for jewelry, especially goldwork, he told his rider. The amulet around his neck rekindled his interest in TC’s remaining in his truck, so they talked about jewelry for quite a while. A talk with Oberfeld, however, was listening to him expound on everything, including jewelry and gold. Though he was boring, TC was grateful that he avoided another soaking. And, he averred silently to himself, he must not object to another opportunity to pick up more information about the White Man’s cultural proclivities.