On the tip of the horizon, where the sky met the road, rose up the machine they all were waiting for. The roaring sound of an old diesel engine, loudly with slow pace was driving towards them. Matthew and Mike flung their arms at each other as a gesture of good fortune. In the heat of a day, Matthew couldn’t understand if this was for real or he was hallucinating again. ‘Only one way to find out’ he muttered under his nose. With a straight face, he emerged towards the machine, who poured out the smoke like it was another water leak. Raising black smoke upon the sky, the loud tractor drove towards Matthew. Through sunbeams, he stared into tractors cabin and old man’s face was staring back at him. The creepy look in old man’s eyes drove shivers around Matthews skin. With half open eyes, he could catch an old mans grin, which looked funny yet terrifying.
While Matthew went to meet the old man, Mike and Caroline got in the van. Matthew didn’t notice them ditching him like that – apparently, both of them had a reason. Matthew was at the hands reach with the tractor when he saw Mike waving his hand before jumping into a van. It all made Matthew disappointed and all he could think of was a word ‘asshole’. He knocked on the door, and a grumpy looking old man gently pushed the doors open. The first sigh was the unlabeled beer bottles decorating floor beneath the old man’s feet. The smell of moldy tobacco filled Matthews’ lungs. With disgust from tobacco, he started coughing air out of his lungs. The old man stared at Matthew and commented with an unknown language, but he could pick up some words from it. Matthew turned back at the old man after coughing for a moment and asked him.
“English no. Polski!”
“What?” Matthew stood cluelessly, and after a small gap of silence “Polish?”
The old man nodded. Matthew looked for ways to find a common language between them, while old man kept babbling in Polish. Old man believed that Matthew understands him. Going on for a couple of minutes until Matthew finally explained him his struggle, using sign language. Old man corrected his beard and said.
The old man drove in front of a van so Matthew could hook it up to tractors back. The old man always carried heavy ropes for such situations. Usually, it happened with neighbors tractors, or with some drunk teenagers who got to drive their parent’s cars. Sometimes it was local petrol heads, they were the ones who actually paid for such a thing.
Van was hooked up and the old man started pulling it to the gas station. Matthew sat by his vans steering wheel, listening to the Carolines praising, while Mike sat quietly in the back. He was into something but Matthew couldn’t see what exactly. Caroline jumped alongside Matthew, leaving Mike in the back of a van completely for himself. Mike usually passed out at such moments, but this time he couldn’t, something was bothering him. Perhaps it was the fact that his influence on Matthew was fading away because of Caroline. He couldn’t understand. That is why he took this moment to prepare another joint for himself and Matthew. Meanwhile, Caroline kept talking about how soon their gonna be on the road again, again moving towards the answer for that call. She kept encouraging Matthew everytime she could. Often Caroline chooses Matthew over Mike. Both – Matthew and Caroline knew that they wouldn’t be together, because there is Ruth. The girl for which Matthew couldn’t acknowledge his feelings. Out of a sudden, Mikes’ voice was behind the Matthew.
“Mattyyyy! Hahahaha, I would never think of it. Matty.” Mike held the note which Ruth wrote “Classic. Matthew. Simply classic. I rolled this joint, you smoking?”
Matthew’s face turned red, he sank deeper into the seat and gave no answer. Caroline turned to Mike and with serious face invited him to the back. Their talk turned into argument and Matthew could pick up that the main topic is he. Both of them were arguing about Matthew and part of Matthew didn’t liked it, while other enjoyed. He lingered in a place between enjoyment and discontent. A place like that was weird for him, and he didn’t enjoy mingling in between, but there was nothing he could do about it. After arguing for five minutes the silence rose and Caroline walked through the van to the front, alongside by Matthew. She dusted off her palms like she would gesture ‘too easy’ with them. Matthew turned his head back and saw Mike. Laid in the mattress all by himself. The head turned towards the ceiling and gave out no response when Matthew called for him.
“What did you do to him?” Matthew asked Caroline
“Nothing. I just told him that it wasn’t nice what he did. I told him that in our language.” She winked, but Matthew wasn’t all cheerful about it.
“Damn Carol. Why you had to go and do that…”
Matthew grip on the wheel tightened. He started picturing him forcing pedal to the floor and speeding towards the Amsterdam. At this moment he forgot about the Caroline and Mike like they weren’t there. Matthew tried to look past the tractor, but couldn’t catch a single thing they were passing. All road felt the same. The same noise from gravel hitting the bottom of their car; same fields on both sides of a road. For a brief moment, Matthew thought he’s hallucinating this too, but right after he saw cars passing by in the far distance. Without a doubt, he thought it is a highway. The old man stopped the tractor once they got closer to the highway. With rusty bones, he jumped out of the tractor. The crackling from old man’s joints could be heard at a meters distance. Matthew came closer to the rope connecting his car and said ‘thanks’ in the Russian language. Old mans face lid up in surprise and he began babbling in Russian. The old man talked all the time while they were disconnecting rope. Often Matthew got lost in his words because old man already told him why he talks so much and why he was glad to help. After hearing half of his life story he shook his hand and thanked him again. The old man lifted his hat, for a pleasant journey and jumped into his tractor. All this time it didn’t stop reaving and with the black smoke coming from behind he blasted away. Matthew got to the door of the van and stormed it open. He looked at Caroline and then at Mike.
“Guys, we’re at the highway. Now we have to start figuring out what we’re gonna do.”
“You can always try to hitch a ride here,” Caroline stated
“Or we can always push this baby along with the highway.”
Mike sarcastically tried to state out his unhappiness about this. Matthew looked at Caroline and nodded.
“Yeah, hitch sounds like most promising thing at the moment.” A small moment of silence occurred, after looking at carolines stare, Matthew came to conclusion “I should get going, right?”
Matthew left his van alongside with them two and walked towards the bridge, on which stood the highway. There was a small road leading cars down from one side and leading up on the other. With the hope of getting someone’s help, he stood before the one where people usually drove up to the highway. Matthew figured that people would probably be more helpful if they’re going in the same direction. Optimistically he raised his thumb and waited for the cars to stop. There barely was any, but he hoped for the better.
Hours had passed and much as a few cars passing by there wasn’t. Matthew stared at the setting sun, thinking about the ways to spend a night. His thoughts hanged on the last strings of hope. Slowly he began giving up on the idea of getting out of there. In the distance, he could see cars coming up to him. The line of three cars, which seemed like a lot after what had passed in the last hours. Three potential drives to the gas station were now coming his way, but it wasn’t for him to decide if their gonna stop. A smile stretched his face in a jestering grimace. For everyone passing by he was smiling, but none of them stopped. Fury filled his voice and he shouted at them. Trowed hands in the air like it didn’t care. Exhausted he sat on the ground and tried to relax. After a few deep inhales he heard something behind his van, another hope he thought. Quickly he raised up and saw two round headlights coming to his direction. The same looking van approached at the end of his feet and two good looking ladies looked at them through the passenger’s window.
“Howdy fellow traveler,” The girl in passengers seat said, “are you stranded?”
Matthew nodded with his head in approval. He couldn’t find a word to say to them, both of them looked stunning and he couldn’t move his eyes away. They worked like a hypnosis for him. When the one behind the wheel snapped her fingers in his direction.
“Dude! She meant if you need help?”
“Yes, yeah, totally.” He gathered the words in his head “Thing is…” He explained them the whole story of getting stranded in the middle of the countryside. How the old man got him so far, and until then he didn’t have a car which would stop.
“What’s your name by the way?”
The one in the passenger seat asked him. She was the one who smiled, while the other one kept a mean face all the time when they were talking.
“Matthew, names Matthew. Your?”
“Names Janna and she’s-“
“Hanna! Are we doing this?” She leaned over Janna and looked at Matthew. Janna looked at her and started calming her down until she was back in her seat.
“Sorry, she didn’t have enough sleep last night, makes her grumpy,” she chuckled “so, shall we?”
Matthew nodded and hooked up his van to theirs.