Me and a buddy were on a road trip from Portland to Austin, TX. We were moving there, actually.
We’d stopped in this tiny little town in New Mexico, I forget where. Our route just nicked the corner of the state before turning in to the Texas panhandle.
We drove up and down the main street looking for a place to eat. The whole town looked deserted and it was near sunset. Finally found a SubWay open. The yellow sign and flourescent light were a contrast to the orange-red of the sunset and the red-brown of the desert.
Got our sandwiches, flirted a bit with the girl behind the counter, sat down to eat.
A big dirty ancient pickup truck pulled up, the tires crunching in the gravel. A tall, scarecrow thin old man got out, in plaid and blue jeans. His hair was the color of “whiter than white” and I remember it almost gleaming in the darkness outside the window. He looked at the car we were driving, and slowly walked into the store.
Just stood there in the doorway, half in, half out. Looked over at me and my friend. No one else was in sight, either inside the store or out on the street.
In a voice that sounded a lot like the sound his tires had made in the gravel outside, he said, “You boys ain’t from around here, are you?”
My friend (whose name is Garret) just looked at me and said, quietly, “Finish up. We’re leaving.”
When we left, the leathery white-haired man was still ordering his sandwich. We got in the car, and as soon as the doors closed, I asked Garret why we left so fast.
“Tell me you didn’t hear banjos start playing as soon as he said that!” His voice was mocking, apologetic and frightened all at the same time.
He was so freaked out by the whole thing he swore he’d never eat at SubWay again.