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  • The kids were silent. Ten, fourteen, sixteen, I’d say. One boy moved up to sit in the front seat with his sister. We squeezed in the back with a smaller kid and their dad agreed to drive us to Denver. Old t-shirts. Long golden hair. The kids sat like strangers, an audience. Dad grinned at what a great lesson this would be. This was a great Easter Sunday lesson.
    “I remember one time, probably nineteen seventy seven,” he glanced at me over his glasses in the rearview, “I was trying to hitch through Utah to get to a friends place up in Idaho for a visit. It was winter and cold and miserable. I must have waited outside Salt Lake for five hours. Nobody wanted to pick me up. I was this guy with a beard, and they were all Mormon and thought I looked pretty weird standing out there under the overpass, like where we picked up you gals back there. And I was just trying to get out, you know, find somewhere that wasn't my parents place for a minute, I didn't have any money. And hitchhiking was normal back then, people weren't scared like they are now. Anyway, nobody was stopping."
    The boy and girl in the front seat were looking out the window, watching the faces pass in blurs in the other cars on the highway, watching the mountains frame the story. "Then," dad said, "I found this huge piece of cardboard and wrote 'Home to Idaho. Dying Grandmother.’” He laughed at this. “I got a ride right away. They drove me all the way to Boise.”
    The kids looked unfazed. They had heard this one before. The little boy next to Clare darted a glance at us to see if we were impressed.
    "Would a sign that said 'Trying to get away, bad situation at home' have worked?" I asked myself, asked no one, then, "No. No, I guess probably not."
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