"When?" she inquired.
"Well, tomorrow night. I think."
"For how long?"
Just then, Jim walked through the front door.
"Oh, Jim. Mom wants to know how long the drive is?" I said to him.
"Probably four days. Maybe five," he simply said.
"What about school?" My mom looked at me.
"Please, Mom. It will be okay if I miss a few days."
"Where are you driving?" She looked at Jim.
"Well, my deliveries are in Albuquerque, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. After that we will return home," he stated.
"And you plan to leave when?" she wanted more details.
She seemed to think for a moment. Only a moment.
"Yes. You may go. I will let Dad know that it is fine for you to be your brother's traveling companion," my mom said. She smiled at me.
The next evening, Jim and I were off.
Sitting in his truck.
A huge big-rig.
Ready to roll.
To make his scheduled deliveries.
I was 17 years old at the time.
A junior in high school.
Jim was one of my older brothers.
A fun-loving, humorous guy that I was looking forward to spending some time with.
He drove all through the night.
In the bed.
Behind the driver and passenger seats.
When I awoke the next morning, Jim was sleeping.
In his seat.
With his head against the steering wheel.
I watched the sun rise. Jim looked uncomfortable.
He woke within the hour. Started driving again.
By the end of our first day, around 11:45pm, we stopped to grab a bite to eat.
"So, after we are done here, I will need to sleep a little. I feel really tired. And need to rest," Jim told me.
As we talked. While I was looking at him. Jim reminded me of Bill. Our brother that had passed away the previous year. They way Jim looked, talked, and smiled was a reflection of our beloved sibling.
I kept those thoughts to myself. I wasn't sure either of us was ready to talk about Bill's death. Yet, I liked feeling Bill was there, with us, through Jim's gestures.
Whoosh! I could feel the truck rock. Hard. As other truckers zoom passed. While Jim slept on. Not noticing the movement.
I couldn't sleep. I just doodled, read, and took pictures to pass the time.
Two days in, the big-rig got a flat shredded to bits inner tube tire.
"Hey, Jim. Would it be okay if I took a shower right now? My hair is really stringy, and I feel grimy and dirty. I feel gross!" I said calmly, even though my internal thoughts were screaming.
"Yeah. Sure. But let me keep an eye on that shower stall, this being a truck stop and all." He confirmed my fears of possible weirdos in the area.
Days later, upon our return home I told Jim thanks for inviting me along.
"I had a lot of fun with you on this trip. It's been a nice vacation."
"I am glad. I hope you can come along again. Sometime," he responded. Arm around my shoulder.
Having missed most of the week of school, my dad, college professor extraordinaire, wrote me a note to excuse my absence.
The school clerk didn't like the overly exaggerated, flowery wording, stating "Please tell your father to write a more simplified reason why you were not in school!"
She handed the note he wrote back to me.
"Whatever," I thought. "What-Ev-Er!"
All I knew, was that the time I spent with Jim was well worth a few school days missed.