This story is part of "Project 1947", which is part of the Basilicus project.

Cooperative: This story is coordinated by Laveaux. It is open to any new writers with characters alive during the year 1947 and have access to North America. The coordinator asks that any writers that do join the story, complete a character description in accordance with this article. Note that writers can only write for their characters, the coordinator will write for all other characters and events. Use the talk page if you have questions or suggestions.

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The shadows were growing long, and the dust caked his throat. He had been walking the shoulder of Highway 16 for what seemed like forever to him.

The light was grey; the very light itself seem cold. Creed liked that, but he was really in no mood to enjoy it. The faint sound of a car could be heard as it switched gears; straining to get up the steep mountain.

Adjusting his pack, Creed took a seat on the guardrail, and waited for the car to come into view.

He looked behind him at the steep drop. There was no way that the guardrail could save anyone from plummeting over the side. It's base had no hold into the soft loam of the mountain.

He shook his head, and held out a dirty thumb as an old flatbed Ford chugged into view. It was a rusted-out shell of a vehical, and a plume of smoke hung about it like a shroud. It coughed, and weezed as if it had some form of internal cancer.

A fat man whose cheek was jutting out from tobacco rolled down his cracked window. He spat, "Where you headin' to, boy?"

"Down toward Virginia"

"Why you goin' down that way, fer?"

"I have family down there" He lied. It was none of this fat man's concern where he was headed.

The fat one squinted his piggish eyes, and nodded. "Well, git on in here. I can take you far as Cucumber."

Creed nodded. Cucumber was one of thousands of old mining towns in the county. But, it was close to the border of Virginia. He walked around the smoking truck, and got in. It smelled of sour tobacco, and farts.

"My name is Joshua." said the man.

"I am Creed Gallow." And with that, they were sputtering up the mountain.

--Creed Gallow

"Ain't you got a way to go other'n hitchhikin'? Ain't your family gonna come git you? Not safe these days, what with the Heins boys out."

The well-fed Joshua reached into his soiled flannel pocket and pulled out a make-do rolled cigarette. Spending an uncomfortable amount of time trying to light it, he nearly steared into the rail, but veered into place after a plume of tobacco smoke filled the cab.

"Gone to Cucumber t'get the old lady a crutch fer her back. Threw it out night 'for last. Got the Doctor Henry out there. Swell fella, or last I heard. He got the pnemonia two summers ago, but nursed his own self to health."

Joshua offered a cigarette to Creed before continuing with his story.

"Turned to private practice after that. Only does spines and feet. Got the clinic there still though. Cucumber Clinic. Open most Saturdays. Go there 'bout twice a year for my 'thritis. Got wrists the size of softballs."

He showed one of his swollen wrists.

"Where you come from, boy? You always this quiet?"

Truthfully, Joshua barely gave him a chance to speak.

--Laveaux 20:50, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Who cared about Joshua's ailments, or who his doctor is? He patted his shirt pocket for some matches when Joshua asked him where he was from.

"I'm from near Iaeger. Used to work the train-yards down there." He lied. He did not want this man to go tramping about in his own affairs. Creed looked to his right as the truck swung by an outcrop of rock. It sped by just inches from the vehical.

He knew Joshua's kind. If he told the old fart about him quitting his job in the mine, and leaving for South America; all hell would flood loose.

First, the people around here did not believe in a man who did not work. And, they never seen the point in wanting to travel; to them the roots ran deep, and could never be severed.

Second, they would think Creed was turning his back on the good ol' US-of-A. They would think him scared, and it being after the onslaught of World War Two. that would just make it worse.

Three, Creed owed alot of money to the company store back in town. The company store was owned by the same suit-wearing pricks who owned the mines, and the whole town. When one bought stuff from the company store, they took it out of his pay. And, Creed had many stubs that proved that he was no where close to paying his debts off.

And four, the strike that made him decide leaving was riding his coat-tails also. Strikes were fickle things in small coalmining towns. If one sided with the company; his honor was gone. And, so was his friends, and buddies. If one sides with the miners; the Baldwin-Felts Agents would make sure that that man never held another job in the county again.

Yes, it was a fickle, and tiring thing, and Creed was sick of it. He looked at Joshua, and laughed.

He was going to South America, he could hardly believe it himself!

--Creed Gallow

"Them train yards are good work, yes sir," he said, satisfied at the answer, "heard they got a group of Japs workin' in them yards. That true? How's it like workin' with damned heathens? Don't know why after bombin' the place they be so interested in building here."

"Got a cousin in Iaeger. Theodore Willams. You know him? Been laid up since the war was on. Lost his foot to a German mine at Normandy. Almost lost his whole damned leg. Got off better'n the Swikowski kids down there at Bartley. Them sumsofbitches both got killed in '44. No wonder though. Them kids are Polish."

Joshua ran out of things to say for a while until he arrived at Ray's Service Station, the first major business in Cucumber until one arrived at Main Street, a quarter mile away.

"Got to get some fuel. You can stick around, but the town ain't but a ten minute walk."

A gray-haired pot-bellied man in a jumpsuit and long wool jacket stepped out from the service station wiping grease from his hands.

"That you Joshua?" He said from behind two broken front teeth, "Whatcha doin' all the way down here on a Friday?"

"Got the 'thritus, Ray," he bellowed as he stepped outside the truck.

--Laveaux 20:50, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Creed smiled, and shook his head at Joshua, and opened the door.

"Thanks for the ride, Joshua. But, I guess that I can walk from here." The scent of gas, and grease reached him as he waved to the fat man, and walked toward the road from Ray's.

Tazewell Virginia was not really that far away. He could make it there before dark, or he could be there in fifteen minutes if he caught another ride.

The sky was overcast, and looked as if it would snow later. Creed sighed, and started to think of his possibilities.

In Tazewell he could head east toward the coast. It would be alot warmer there maybe, and he could see the ocean; something that he had never seen before.

Or, he could head west, slowly heading southward.

He could visit Texas, and work his way through Mexico. Yes, that would be the way he would travel.

He was walking the cold, empty highway. But, his thoughts were far away.

--Creed Gallow

It was long into the afternoon and along a slow, but steady descent into a snow-covered valley that a car finally made it down the pass. Although it passed Creed, the burgundy sedan stopped and waited for him to catch up.

The car was far more expensive than an average West Virgian would own, and the nicely trimmed thirty-something man at the wheel dressed like a cross between a government man and a mobster. His finely tailored black suit was complimented by a tightly shaped gray fedora.

"You need a ride son?" He said in a decidedly Alabama accent.

Only then did he notice another man sitting in the back seat wearing similar clothing.

--Laveaux 20:50, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Creed tipped his own faded fedora to the men.

He briefly wondered why the other man was not seated in the passenger side; it seemed as if they were wanting someone to sit in the front.

He shook this notion away, "I'd be much obliged."

Getting in the warm car, he shut the door and rubbed his red hands together. "Sure, is a cold one out there today."

He could already begin to feel the snow melt from his fedora. It slowly started to drip off the brim.

The heater was full in his face, and his skin crawled as it began to warm up from being cold for so long.

"Yeah, it sure is a cold one today. ."

--Creed Gallow

They both politely smiled, but from the stone edges on their faces, it was apparent they were not used to that gesture. The sedan continued its way down the pass for a few before anyone spoke.

"Where you headin', son?" The driver asked.

"Ain't thinkin' we should take you too far," the man in the back said, although it was clear he was speaking to the driver, perhaps angry for picking Creed up.

"Willy, the boy is walking in the hills in the middle of goddamned January, now shut your trap."

Willy fell silent, but kept a suspicious eye on the young man.

--Laveaux 20:50, 14 December 2005 (CST)

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