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The Hitchhiker Man: Chapter 5

Massey, Ontario. 112 km.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”
—T.S. Elliot

We weren’t quite sure if the Mazda had stopped for us or for some other reason. The car had Quebec plates, but nobody emerged and no window went down. We took another uncertain step towards the forest when the driver’s door flew open. A man with a French accent introduced himself as Pierre, then helped us put our bags in the trunk. We sat down on the comfortable leather seats, Pierre put on some French rap music, and then we drove off into the darkness.
He seemed pleased to have some company. “I’ve been driving for twelve hours straight,” he told us in his strong French accent. Travelling through the night at a hundred km an hour with a stranger who was at the limits of exhaustion didn’t seem like the best idea. But at that moment Pierre falling asleep at the wheel seemed to be the greatest of all my worries, which in a sense was reassuring.
Pierre’s English was limited, but the conversation flowed nonetheless. He was on his way to Alberta to help his brother because his restaurant was understaffed. After a few hours, Ryan said, “Hey, if you get tired, I have family not too far from here, they live on the highway and we’re all welcome to stay the night.”
“I will think about it,” Pierre replied. After a few more hours of driving, Pierre accepted the offer on the condition that we were back on the road at six the next morning. It was past midnight when we pulled into the sleepy little town of Wawa, Ontario, on the edge of Lake Superior. Ryan’s girlfriend’s parents’ house was just off the highway and after some food and a few beers we all went to bed exhausted.
Despite being tired I couldn’t sleep that night, and instead I reflected on all that I had experienced that day. I had travelled over five hundred km, which was surprising. It was the farthest distance I had ever travelled in a single day. I thought of my friends back in Sudbury, living life like nothing had changed. Yet my life was upside down now and I had a strange suspicion that it would never be the same again.