Chapter One, Page Nine

Henry Plays Along, Part Two; Enter Mitch

"Now that was weird. I've never even seen an Ikibomot uniform except in those corny little publicity pamphlets." Steve idly bounced the ball in his hand. "I guess we'll probably see the guy sometime soon."

"Not if I see him first."

"Aw, c'mon, Kessel, he may not be all that bad. Remember what you thought when you first met me. And he did throw it back. Though if that's the way he usually throws, he's definitely not the new pitcher we're looking for."

That got a chuckle from Kessel, but it was soon overcome by a worried look. "Um, I hate to say this, but I didn't gas up before we left, and it looks like we're going to need it soon."

"Oh great," groaned Steve. "The only service stations within any reasonable distance are at the rest areas, and those give new meaning to the term 'highway robbery'. And to top that off, we're it, going the wrong way and no one else in sight. Now all we need is some trooper who hasn't made his ticket quota for the week..."

"Hey, wait, things might be turning our way again. Check out that blue heap in the right lane... isn't that Mitch Lane?"

"Well all right!" Steve pumped his arm a few times in anticipation. "About time for a new player."

The Buick pulled easily alongside the cheap, slowly-moving electric auto, a replica of a popular subcompact from an earlier age. Sure enough, the back seat was packed with Mitch's trademark collection of junk, and the driver glanced over at the roar and waved as he recognized Steve. His friendly smile turned into a grimace of dismay as Steve fired the ball through his partially open window, shouting, "Gotcha! See you back home!"

"Good shot, Steve. Now where's the nearest filling station?"

"Uh, there was one about ten miles back the other way."

"Well, hey, with all the traffic laws we've broken today, I don't really think this is gonna make much difference," Kessel said with an evil smile, wrenching the wheel around again and this time making two nasty gouges in the landscaped median strip. Steve didn't whoop with delight this time; he always had had a fondness for those little belts of green in the midst of the superhighway. Well, too late to say anything now.

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