Mr. Kosmos gained consciousness with his face in the mud and a wrecking pain in his jaw that spiked through his neck with every breath he took.
There was a weight pressing down on him and as he moved he realized it was his luggage. They had thrown him out of the bus in this unknown place. He shaded his eyes with his hand and looked in the distance. There was nothing except dust and dying vegetation as far as his eye could see. The sun was above his head and he could feel himself sweating under his clothes.
He took in the extent of his injuries. His jaw hurt pretty bad but it was not broken. There were some phantom pains blossoming through his body, probably a result of the fall, and he knew he'd be blue and black in a day.
Sitting on the side of the road he wished he had not pinched that lady. What the hell was he thinking and what did he expect her to do.
He would need to find another way to reach his mother's village. Maybe he could hitch a ride from any vehicle going towards the next station and from there he could catch another bus. He stood up and walked to the side of the road. Looking on both sides for the sign of any vehicle. There was nothing. Just heat waves wafting up from the road, muddling everything in his sight. Then the waves shifted and he saw a vehicle coming his way. He raised his arm and stuck his thumb out in the universal gesture of i-need-a-ride.
At first, he thought the vehicle was not going to stop. But then it started to slow down and by the time it reached him he could see it was a small truck with seats in front and empty carriage space in the back.
"Hi, uh," Mr. Kosmos approached the driver, a burly man with a tattoo of an anchor on his huge bicep, "I hope it won't be too inconvenient for you to give me a ride to the next town. I need to catch a bus to see my mother."
The man glared at Mr. Kosmos and then grunted. It could have been a no or a yes, but Mr. Kosmos took it as a yes. He walked to the other side of the car and threw his luggage in the back. He opened the door and saw that the man was not alone in the car. There was a girl sitting with him and she sidled closer to the man as Mr. Kosmos climbed in and slammed the door shut behind him.
Hello, he said to the girl. She made a face and sat a little closer to the man.
The car started to move.
It was a long way to the next town no one spoke and the travel drowsiness was soon apparent in the truck. The car took a turn and the girl's leg brushed Mr. Kosmos' leg.
And like the flashback of life of a dying man, his leg started to itch like it was the end of the world.
-- FIN --