The GPS was dead.
There was no cell service, either. Fifteen miles had passed without any connection with the world.
“Think we’ll find a gas station soon?” Ben said.
Maryann cringed. “How low are we?”
“Let’s put it this way…once we’re out of fumes, we’ll be walking.”
“And you’re sure this isn’t the right road?”
“Positive.” He ran a hand through his hair, gave a futile glance in the rearview mirror. Not a single car had passed by in the last hour. “Maybe this road-trip through the desert wasn’t such a good idea.”
“Well, at least it’s cloudy so it’s not so hot.” She stifled a smile.
“For now,” he grumbled. “With my luck—”
“Hey!” She sat up. “Is that a gas station ahead?”
He squinted. “Huh. Maybe my luck is changing.”
The car rolled into the vacant station and stopped in front of the pump, chugged, then died.
“Whoa.” Her eyes were wide.
He began pumping. “Hey honey, check this out. This thing looks like it could be from the 1950’s or something. It’s one of those old style pumps.”
She bit her lip and looked around. Where were all the other patrons?
Once done, they went inside to pay. A bell rang over the door and the two stopped cold.
“Wow,” she said. “This place takes the vintage thing to another level.”
She ran her fingers over the varnished wood counter, eyed the jars of penny candy. Norman Rockwell paintings covered the walls. Signage for Texaco and an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes that said, “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” sat on the counter.
“Check this out,” he said.
He stood next to an ice-filled red chest labeled Coca-Cola. An hourglass shaped glass bottle of purple liquid fizzed in his hand.
“Ooo, grab me one,” she said.
“You folks ‘bout done?” A man with white hair stood at the register.
“Just need to pay for our fill up. How much is it?”
“Cheapest price in town. Twenty-five cents per gallon,” the man said.
Their jaws dropped.
“Excuse me?” she said.
“That’s impossible,” Ben added.
The man held one hand up. “Sorry. Can’t go a penny lower.”
“He takes this old fashioned thing seriously,” Maryann muttered.
Ben smiled. “No problem. Also, we’ll take these sodas.”
“They’re a nickel a piece,” the man said.
She guffawed but Ben threw a five on the counter and turned to leave.
“Wait!” she said. “We need a map.”
“That’ll run you a dime.”
“How in the—”
“Great!” Ben said. “We’ll take it.”
Once in the car, they pulled onto a side road and stared straight ahead.
“Did that just happen?” she said.
“How does he stay in business?”
She frowned. “Maybe I should’ve used the bathroom. Mind if we run back?”
“Sure, we—” His mouth fell open and he froze, his gaze behind them.
“Where’s the station?”
She turned to see nothing but desert landscape.
“Maybe this was our lucky day, after all.”
© Laura L. Zimmerman 2017