It’s called, “The Loneliest Highway in America.” U.S. Highway 50 runs from from Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland, bisecting the state of Nevada, north from south.
Early morning, perhaps one or there about, and I was finally leaving Baker, Nevada, where I’d been attending a cowboy poetry gathering. I’d thought about spending the night, was even offered a bunk at a nearby ranch house, but I wanted to get home to my wife, so declining, I drove west towards Carson City, the state’s capital.
After stopping in Ely to refuel my truck and get the largest coffee the gas station had to offer, I hopped back on the highway and quickly zipped passed the turn-off to the small hamlet of Ruth. It would be some 70 miles before I’d see another town.
Listening to whatever radio station I could find on the dial, kept me awake along with my windows being open and the cup of coffee as I tooled across the open expanse of desert with far off mountainscapes surrounding me. Unfortunately, I had to slow down for a small group of cattle that had managed to escape their pasture.
Driving has always been and remains an enjoyment and I’ve never minded driving in the dark. As I progressed, I only encountered one vehicle heading the other way and none as I continued to roll west.
Recalling the evening of poetry, songs and stories I relaxed into my drive. But then I saw something standing in the highway jus’ outside my headlights and I pushed on my brakes to slow down.
It was a man – or what I believed to be a man – with an unusually large and perfectly round-shaped head. Soon my speed was about 35 miles an hour and as I came closer, he stepped into the eastbound travel lane, so that I could pass him.
“What in the hell?” I heard myself blurt out as I drove by, disturbed by his bulbous hairless, earless white-head, yellow clown-style hat, solid blue irisless eyes, black pointed nose, gray suit, tie and dress shoes.
Quickly, I glanced in my rear view mirror, moved to the side of the road and retrieved my revolver, all the while planning to give this asshole a piece of my mind. But no sooner had I stepped from my truck and looked back, he was gone.
Jus’ as quickly, I got back in my truck, fired it up and took off. Call me coward, but I really didn’t want to confront or be confronted by whatever I’d seen.
The event became a footnote within hours after getting home and telling my wife about what I’d witnessed. We laughed and forgot about it.
Later that same day, she had the television on and as I walked into the living room a commercial appeared. The sight caused a cold-sweat to flood over my entire body.
I shouted, “Holy shit! That’s the thing I saw driving home!”
“Don’t be silly,” she scoffed, “That’s Jack from ‘Jack in the Box.’”