THE GHOST TRUCK - A Witness Account
Transcribed by Ray O'Bannon.
(The following report was transcribed from cassette recordings made in early Spring, 1984.)
Well, In a perfect world then yeah, my Chevy would have lasted the last twenty miles into town. That would have been nice. But nope, threw a rod. So when the engine gave it's last gasp, I was stuck out there in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain. Did I mention the rain?
Anyhow, I was slogging along the side of the highway, heading back towards town, mostly just watching my soaked feet splash when I heard a vehicle approaching from behind. Sounded awfully clattery but when I turned around there was a truck pulling over.
Couldn't really see it very well because the headlights were blinding me, but the driver reached over and opened the passenger door. I had the weirdest feeling right then, just for a moment, like maybe I shouldn't get into that truck. But it was really pouring and I was freezing out there, so I walked over and started to hop in. That's when I got a better look at the truck.
It looked like a semi from around 1940, or what was left of one. Every inch of the thing was rusted, and all of the windows were broken out. There were still a few shards of glass in the frames, twinkling like teeth in the rain. There didn't seem to be any light in the cab, just darkness. But it was either accept a lift or walk twenty miles, so I climbed up into the truck. And when I pulled that rusty old door closed, it screeched like the lid of a tomb.
I tried to see what sort of person I was riding with as we rattled back onto the highway, but the cab was completely dark, no dashboard lights or anything. All I could see of the driver was the silhouette of a large form in a parka, hood pulled up to shield him from the spikes of rain pelting us through the broken windshield. I was trying to figure out what to say when he spoke.
“Name's Chester, Chester Floyd.”
His voice was deep and gruff, and it seemed he had introduced himself only because he felt it would be rude not to. There was no suggestion of friendliness. I sort of stammered my name and told him how much I appreciated the ride.
That was all the conversation there was the whole rest of the way into town. And sitting there in that dark truck, I had the oddest impression. It almost seemed like the wind whipping through the open windows wasn't moving the fur on Chester's parka hood any at all. But the truck's constant shaking made it hard to focus, and I get too imaginative sometimes when I'm tired, so I tried not to think about it. But I was plenty happy to get out of that rig when we finally reached the gas station on the edge of town.
I offered to pay for the ride, but Chester just chuckled. What's strange is that even over the wind and the rain and the murderous rattle of that rusty old truck, I could hear that quiet laugh like it was right in my ear. And then the door screeched closed and the truck drove off into the night.
The gas station had a small grocery store, so I went in for some coffee. The old guy behind the counter grinned when he saw how soaked I was. I grabbed a sack of donuts and fixed my coffee, then sloshed over to the counter to pay. The old guy's grin became a friendly smile that reminded me of George Carlin and I began to relax a little.
“You look a little damp there. Have to walk far?”
“Nope, caught a ride with Chester Floyd.”
The clerk looked up from the cash register, and I had the weirdest sensation... it was like precognition or deja vu or something like that. I knew exactly what this guy was about to say, not a doubt in my mind, I was almost ready to stand there and say it right along with him... “Worst Accident I Ever Did...”
“Oh, Chester? Yeah, He was just in here a little while ago. Came in for a bag of Cheesy Yums.”
I just stood there for a moment, feeling stupid. Then I pocketed my change and turned towards the door. I couldn't help a nervous chuckle as I glanced back to the old fellow.
“You know, for a minute there... I thought you were gonna say he was dead.”
“Oh, yep, he's dead alright. Worst accident I ever did see. But he still comes in every now and then for some Cheesy Yums, he loves those things.”
As I headed out the door, I heard him continue, more to himself then to me.
“Don't know how the heck he eats 'em though, what with not havin' a head or nuthin'...”
So no, I haven't driven that stretch of highway for a really long time now, and with any kind of luck I won't ever again.