29th February
Story and Music

The Hitcher

The hitcher looked pretty weird with his long coat and long beard and even at a distance he didn’t seem that clean, but Evie said, ‘Och, let’s pick him up, it’s about to chuck it down.’ So I pulled in and lowered Evie’s window but before she could speak to him he’d got the rear door open and was in on the back seat.

‘Just in time,’ he said. ‘Thought I was out of luck there.’

‘Where to?’ I asked.

‘As far as you’re going.’

Evie and I exchanged glances. Where we were going was a hundred miles away, and already the car was stinking.

‘We can get you to Forfar,’ I said quickly.

‘That’s only three miles,’ he said. ‘I bet you’re going further than that.’

‘Do you want a lift or don’t you?’

‘You’re nice,’ he said.


‘Aye aye, all right.’

I pulled out again, my eyes watering. Evie started coughing. I opened all the windows wide.

‘So I’m to get soaked anyway, am I?’ he said.

I stopped in the next layby. ‘That’s it,’ I said. ‘Out.’

‘What now?’

‘You smell like a fucking zoo,’ I said.

He seemed to expect it. He tugged at the handle. ‘Oh dear,’ he said. ‘Door’s stuck.’

I would have got out, gone round and hauled him onto the tarmac, but my door wouldn’t open either. Nor would Evie’s. I closed all the windows, turned off the engine, tried again. Nothing. And now the windows were stuck shut.

He shook his head. ‘May as well get driving again, eh?’

‘I’m not moving,’ I said, ‘until you get out of this car.’

‘Suit yourself. I’m in no hurry.’


‘Check the date, man,’ he said. ‘Twenty-ninth of February. My day for hitting the road. So we can sit here as long as you like, watching the rain, or we can go places together. And in four years you can drop me off again.’

Evie looked as frightened as I felt. And we were both choking.

‘Just drive,’ the hitcher said. ‘You’ll find, when we’re on the move, you’ll be able to open the windows a crack. You’ll get used to it after a while. Trust me.’

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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