If there were darker tracks of road among the purposeless fields then the boy hoped they would never be found. He sprung a small landau before him on a bindle and it washed a feeble light to the tarmac that ebbed away at the edges into spent beige earth bearing the look of some derelict pasture. He had walked for many hours and knew he would walk for many still until the waystation he sought would come suddenly out the black.
The night was quiet but quieter still was the figure who sat patient and cross-legged in the road like some abandoned foreign marionette with thin hair plastered flat to his skull. He stared calmly at the boy as if he were the one obstructing passage.
“Help you?” the boy said. The man blinked.
“Ain’t no helping me,” he answered with all the intentions of a stone.
The boy regarded him a few moments and made a crescent path around the figure out of arms reach and carried on walking. He paced with his breath walled up in his chest to listen for the sound of being followed and heard only the stillness of the cricketless dark and carried on walking until his lamp came upon the man again to his front. Still cross legged. His eyes red as jewels in the lamplight and jaw stern and clenched.
“Now there ain’t no helping you either.”