Serial killer on the loose while I hitch through Michigan

I stayed up all night in the Buffalo bus station awaiting the early morning departure to Detroit. A girl had picked me up the night before after getting denied entry to Canada, then kindly bought me this bus ticket to get me closer to my destination, Michigan's Upper Peninsula to see my friend Nick.

I slept for most of the bus ride, transferring once in Cleveland and arriving in Detroit midday. I set out on foot towards downtown to catch the local bus as far north as possible to find a good hitchhiking spot. On the walk I passed a man trying to sell me pins, then some beggars near the exit of the freeway. A man with a giant nose and ears approached me, I could tell he was a fixture on these streets. He asked if I needed money, I told him no.

"Do you remember me?", he asked next, I didn't. "Do you have a watch?", this was his next question, I told him I didn't. "You need one...", he mumbled, as if warning me of something. I moved along, heading to the bus stop. The city felt abandoned, the buildings empty and closed down. The people I saw were either sitting on the street or meandering somewhat aimlessly. The bus ride north exposed much more desolation, a subdued post apocalyptic feel.

A ways up the line I had to transfer buses and found out it was going to be a 45 minute wait or more, so I set out looking for food to fill the time and my stomach. As I peered into a diner a couple guys walked by, one carrying a notebook, "You look like you're on an adventure!", said the one with the notebook, it was my backpack that got his attention.

"I'm heading to the UP", I told them, "just looking for a cheap bite to eat before the bus gets here, I'm trying to get further north to start hitchhiking".

"If this was a movie, we'd be the guys joining you on the adventure right now", they said. I followed them to the cafe down the block where the one was going to meet some people and share some artwork. The place had cheap hotdogs, I grabbed a couple and took a look at his drawings. We talked up until I had to head back to the bus stop.

The bus went to a mall and then the driver took me personally to the on ramp about a half mile further. I thumbed from there for a while until a mumbling man picked me up and took me ten more miles up the road. After that a woman in a minivan picked me up. Towards the end of the ride she started telling me about how Jesus fixed her back a while ago after a car accident, she said he'd help me get some rides after she dropped me off.

Jesus had me walk until it was dark and then sent a cop to confront me. The cop searched my pockets and prodded my backpack, then gave me a short ride to a McDonalds off the freeway. "I'm gonna drop a dime on my state trooper buddies up the way, if they see you on the freeway again I'm not gonna be happy, it's the same road all the way to the UP, stay off it".

I grabbed a bite to eat and took a look at a map, then began walking what I figured to be a long walk through neighborhoods towards the next on ramp. A pickup truck pulled over and saved me five or more miles of walking in the dark. The guy told me about a serial killer on the loose, "People don't pick people up much anymore, they're afraid. Right now there's a serial killer on the loose here around Flint, he was stabbing people in Virgina  first. You got nothing to worry about though, he's been targeting black folks".

He dropped me off at a small truck stop by the freeway. I stood by the ramp long enough to determine there wasn't much action this time of night, then headed into the truck stop to relax for a bit. I later found a hidden spot off the road in the woods where I laid out my sleeping bag where I spent the night shielding myself from mosquitoes in the warm, damp Michigan night.

I woke up and got a ride quickly in the early light of day, an interesting guy who gave drove me up a little further, dropping me off at another McDonalds where he got me a meal and gave me the change, $7. This was just about exactly how much I'd spent since leaving New York, on food and bus fare. He also talked about the serial killer, they'd put out a sketch of him recently depicting and unshaven guy in a baseball cap.

Next I got a ride to Saginaw from a guy who used to hitchhike himself quite a bit, he said he'd of taken me even further if he didn't have work to get to. He also brought up the killer on the loose, also saying I didn't have much to worry about since I neither looked like the sketch or fit the killer's targets.

I waited on the next on ramp surrounded by country and fields. A couple cops came and stopped, one short and stubby, the other tall and ordained with a stereotypical thick cop mustache. They questioned me on the hitchhiking bit first and asked for my ID, continuing, "You know there's a serial killer on the loose right now. You're not him, are you?", I half laughed it off and shook my head, "You have the same kinda beard", he stared at me.

The other cop looked at my backpack, "You got a hat in there?", I told him about my beanie, not a baseball cap. "How about a knife, you got one in there?", I told him about my little pocket knife multi tool. "Oh no, the killer uses a big knife", he told me, looking suspicious and goofy.

My ID came back clean and they let me go, warning me about hitchhiking and telling me there was a truck stop about a mile down the road. I walked away from them in the direction of the truck stop, it seemed like they watched me longingly as if unsure if they'd just let a killer slip away.

It was more than a mile, but I walked the good walk to the truck stop. A white van picked me up, Randy was the guy driving, "I'm not going very far, but I'll take you a little ways". This is what he told me, but we just kept driving and talking, stopping for lunch, then driving hours more all the way to the top of Michigan and over the bridge passing Lake Michigan on the left and Huron on the right. He dropped me off at a gas station there, he seemed to enjoy my company and an outlet to talk about government conspiracy to, also enjoying the drive that he hadn't done in years. Apparently it was all worth going many hours out of his way, I was grateful for it, he got me to the Upper Peninsula.

Now I just had to make my way to the town of Munising where I'd be meeting my friend Nick. I walked a ways down the road, just by the park on the lake. A guy tried to squirt me with a watergun from the backseat of a passing car, he missed and they came back just to laugh and miss again.

I saw a big sign that bragged about Peaches a quarter mile up the road, I marched towards it, still thumbing passing cars and half hoping they'd just pass me up until I got a peach. I got to the place just to find an abandoned building, no peaches.

I kept walking and eventually got picked up by a guy who'd be heading to and through Munising. He was heading to Marquette to see a friend. We talked about his daughter, ex-wife, life in his Michigan small town and the wolfman that was certainly roaming the woods there in the UP. We also joked about the serial killer, he apparently matched the sketch perfectly and was catching jokes from all his friends.

He dropped me off at a gas station where I waited, soon I saw the burnt orange road trip mobile roll in and Nick throwing his hands in the air triumphantly. This was a free man, freshly broken off from a job and life near Phoenix, road tripping across the country with a looming plane ticket to Australia and no solid plans beyond that, just ambitious ideas and excitement. I was happy to see him and ready to start exploring the wilderness we found ourselves in.

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