What would you do if a charismatic stranger asked you for a ride outside a diner off I-95?
Tropes – Meet Cute, Strangers to Lovers
She stepped out of the cute little diner off I-95 and into the drizzle. The misty rain dusted her face as it drifted down the awning along the front of the building. She lit a cigarette with her lucky lighter, Lester, named after her favorite saxophonist.
Three drags later, a man with a big, black backpack exited the diner. He resembled a homeless lumberjack in his red, plaid shirt, unruly auburn beard, and black beanie. He walked right up to her and asked for a light.
She handed Lester over.
“Thanks.” He lit a Marlboro before giving back Lester. “Where you headed, if you don’t mind my asking?”
She took another pull from her cig. She did mind actually but she hated to be rude. “North, to Virginia. You?”
“Up to Richmond to visit my folks,” he said, exhaling a long trail of smoke. He paused and took another drag, exhaling towards the parking lot before turning back to her, “Look, I know this is awkward, but do you have room for one more? My car broke down in Georgia. Been bumming rides since Savannah. I would really appreciate if you could get me all the way to Richmond.”
She blinked at him. What does someone say in this situation? A woman traveling alone picks up a male hitchhiker on the side of the freeway? That has to be the start of at least one B-rated horror movie. “I don’t even know your name. I’m not sure I—”
“My name is Ted. Ted Bundy,” he said, casually taking another drag.
He cracked a smile and chuckled on the next exhale. “Just kidding. My name is Ted. Ritter, not Bundy.”
She took a deep inhale of her cig before crushing it under her shoe. “Wow, a hitchhiker with serial killer jokes. It’s a wonder you made it this far.” She was trying not to smile but his grin was infectious.
“You’re the first woman I’ve tried that joke on. Only gotten rides from guys so far.”
“Makes sense.” She took a step towards the parking lot. “Okay, let’s go, Bundy. We’re burning daylight.”