Thumbs is coming of age adventure that takes place on a 3,000-mile hitchhiking journey from Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas. Lessons learned along treks of this nature are often learned the hard way, not because we are dumb, but because we are not as smart as we think we are. And, there is a difference. There are many examples of this miscalculation. As a matter of fact, most of this story is a miscalculation of one sort or another.
It’s funny, scary and everything in between, but most of all it’s funny.
Even though I was fully clothed, I felt as naked as Lucy Ball. As I watched her chase Dewayne down the road, it occurred to me that I had never seen a woman completely naked like this, head to toe. I had panted through plenty of magazines; I had even seen a stag film, and on limited occasions had caught glimpses of soft white flesh in the back seat of a car. But face-to-face full-frame nakedness—this definitely was a new experience.
About twenty-five yards down the road, Lucy ended her chase. Dewayne had fired the afterburners, and the '57 Chevy and Lucy's clothes were headed out of sight, still gaining speed. She put her hands on her knees and dropped her head, trying to catch her breath. I walked slowly towards her, not knowing exactly what to say. Without raising up, she turned her head and said, “You know, Dewayne probably thinks we're still in the car." Now she started to giggle; then I started to giggle. It was a great relief to know I didn't have a hysterical naked woman on my hands.
"I guess this means you guys are divorced," I said. Now in a full guffaw, it really was a silly-looking scene, and the fact that we were falling down laughing made it even more so. Slowly, we gained control.
"Would you like some clothes to put on?"
We walked back to where I had dropped my shoulder bag. Lucy was brushing dirt off her behind as I dug through my wardrobe, trying my best not to look directly at her nakedness. "All I have are jeans."
Lucy slipped one leg and then the other into my jeans. My eyes followed the material closely as it slid over her upper leg, paused briefly, covered her round bottom, then zipped up and snapped shut. Next came the shirt, and I watched her breasts disappear behind each button. Since I only wore size 8 1/2 shoes, the white basketball shoes I gave her weren't too awkward. Maybe it was the road, or seeing her in the raw, or the pull of the moon, or a combination of all this and more, but she looked kind of cute in a Mickey Rooney-Boy's Town sort of way.
Through all of this strangeness, it struck me that she had never been embarrassed; that's O.K., because I had been embarrassed enough for the both of us. Maybe she never quite understood what was going on, or maybe I didn't.
I picked up my bag and said, "What now?"
She looked up with a smile that almost instantly turned to disgust. "Don't worry; I'm not moving in."
She had seen a familiar look on my face. The old "It ain't my job to take care of you" look. I had learned the look and tone of voice only recently from my brother when he suggested that somewhere else might be a better place for me to be—anywhere else. Lucy had decoded the message almost before I realized I had sent it.
She stood at the edge of the road and looked both ways. There were no tears. She gathered herself, then turned and walked south. I followed, desperately searching for an emotional band-aid. “You want to go to Texas?" I blurted. Obviously, this was more of an emotional tourniquet than a band-aid, but overcompensating had always been my downfall.
"Screw you," she said without turning to face me.
"No, really, you're welcome to come along. I don't have any place to stay yet, and I've only got about thirty-five dollars, but I've got lots of friends," I said, now speaking in a tone that begged for forgiveness. "Where are you going?"
"Seattle," she snapped.
"You're going the wrong way," I said, pleading for a smile.
"Then I'm going to California."
"Maybe I'll just tag along, O.K.?" I said, still looking for relief.
Suddenly, she stopped and turned to face me. The hardness in her voice had eased just a bit. "Listen, down this road is a town. In that town is a bar. I will have a job in that bar before the sun goes down. I don't have a problem; at least I don't have a problem I can't handle." She wheeled away and continued to walk and talk. "We've known each other for an hour. I don't expect you to marry me. Hey, I knew I wasn't going anywhere when I got in Dewayne's car last night. Nothing changed except you, and you ain't going nowhere either." She paused and looked at me. Now she looked twice her age. "When a person's going nowhere, they don't need someone like you hanging around and pointing out the shortcuts. I know the way."
Where can I buy this fabulous book?
About the author
My name is Sam Johnson and I am a retired advertising man, and a fifth generation Texan. I have two very successful grown children (who never ask me for money) and a wife who is the love of my life (who has all my money). I live on a small ranch in the hill country of Texas, southwest of Austin. I eat too much barbeque and Mexican food and drink a little red wine, mostly pinot noir, on occasion. All-in-all, life is pretty good.
When I was an Ad Guy I use to write about soap, cereal and the likes. Now I write just for fun. I write the way I talk, which is not always an asset. I try to write about real things disguised as fiction, but I guess that’s what everyone tries to do. In any case, I hope you find it interesting.
As time goes by I'll tell you more about myself, but for now all you need to know is that one day I was fifty and at the top of my game and the next I was 65 and wondering where the time went, and as stupid as that sounds, that’s pretty much how I became a novelist.