Eyes On the Road

by zara hemla :: supernatural :: g :: going to the next place.

Well, I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer.
Well, I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer.

The future's uncertain
And the end is always near.

--The Doors. Roadhouse Blues.

Well, to start off let's get one thing straight -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I ain't. I'm not Agent Mulder or whatever. I'm just a guy, looking for something, hasn't found it yet.

I spend a lot of time on the road. You know that song by the Doors -- keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel? Yeah. My dad used to play that song every time we moved on to someplace else. And we moved a lot. My dad had nightmares. Sometimes he would tear Sam and I out of sleep with his shouting. And I'd climb into Sam's bed, or he'd climb into mine, and we'd stay wide awake all night.

He'd come into our room in the morning and he'd have that look on his face and we'd know what it meant. It was the look that meant, I hope you didn't make any friends here, because you're gonna be leaving them in the rear-view. Keep your eyes on the road.

So my brother was my only friend, my constant. Sam's a good kid. He's good like he'd have a picture of himself in the dictionary next to the word "virtuous." Law school, for crying out loud. Who goes to law school?

Me -- I'm not virtuous. Not saying I'd have, you know, a picture of myself in the dictionary next to "hellraiser" or anything -- or maybe I would, but more in the literal sense. Dad and I, while baby brother was off in pre-law, saw into the mouth of Hell more than once.

* * *

Sam's studying the map, turning it around and around with his usual solemn perplexity.

"Where are we?" he says. "These little highways are more confusing than a Supreme Court brief." He's just showing off. I give him a look which he returns, and then he tries to make sense of the map once again.

I take a second to study his serious profile. I have to say that I missed Sam while he was away. When your brother is your best friend, he's always there for you, and vice versa. And then if he goes away, there's nothing and no one that can replace him.

Sam and I have jokes that go bone-deep, and we never fight. Okay, we fight, but we never *fight*. Like right now, when I'm about to tell him that he has the map upside down.

He'll say, "If you think you can do better than me, why don't you read this thing?"

And I'll say, "I'm driving."

Then he'll say, "Well, you know, I could always drive. . . ." and I'll smile and shake my head a little. And he'll look exasperated and then his face will brighten and he'll stab his finger down on the page and say, "*There* we are!"

See? I already know.

* * *

In Decatur, Illinois, I had a nasty shock. Out the window of the diner, half-blinded by the morning sun, I thought I saw Dad watching me. He was standing on the other side of the street with his hands in his pockets.

I was half out of my chair and Sam couldn't figure out what it was. He peered out of the window as I grabbed for my coat, and he followed me out of the door, asking me what was wrong.

And when I got out there, it was a man in a black coat and his hands in his pockets, all right, but it wasn't Dad. I don't know why I'd ever thought it was. I stalked back into the diner and paid for breakfast, angry at myself, and I shook off Sam's hand on my arm as I walked back to the motel to get our stuff.

As I shoved things into the duffel, Sam kept asking what was wrong. It was pretty irritating, but I took a look at his face and it reminded me of all the times he was a kid, traipsing along after me. All the times I had to keep from harm.

"I thought I saw -- never mind. Can we just get on the road?"

And Sam, nodding, says, "I thought I saw him yesterday. In Kansas City. We went around a corner and I saw a hat that -- you know that blue one he used to wear? Looked just like it. I almost tore off after him."

"Why didn't you?" I ask.

He looks at me. "He wouldn't watch us. He'd come up to us. He's our dad." Sam, the level-headed one.

"Then why'd he leave like this?" I hate that my voice is whiny, that there's a catch in it.

"I don't know," says Sam. "I don't know."

We sling our duffels over our shoulders, leaving that anonymous room to the next person, ready to get on out to the next place.


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