'Five Sugar Cookies and Two Pieces of Beef Jerky' by Dan Crawley

The lonely rest stop soon became the crowded rest stop. Vans and semis and RVs and vehicles pulling trailers and truck campers and motorcycles poured into the parking lot. A station wagon found a space next to a VW Microbus. Everyone noticed this bus’s body shell painted with daisies and peace signs and shooting stars with arcing rainbow colored tails.

The dad made PB&Js on the tailgate of the station wagon. He told his girls and boy only one sandwich each. Some of the loaf would be saved for another time. So the children headed for a swath of grass, the cheap white bread crumbling in their hands. A picnic table nearby was crammed full with hippies. One of the hippies stood on top of the weathered boards, his poncho long and flowing, singing along with a guitar played by another hippie on the bench.

The dad looked in at the mom stretched out in the back seat of the station wagon, her arms crooked over her face.

Soon the boy ran back, holding five sugar cookies and two pieces of beef jerky, wanting his dad to make another sandwich to share. The boy pointed at the crowd in lawn chairs. At hot dishes spread out on card tables and desserts stacked on plates, and open ice chests lining the curbs. The mom called out that she was tired of peanut butter and jelly. By all means, the boy could take hers away. The boy set the cookies and jerky on the tailgate and ran off with his mom’s sandwich toward a barbecue smoking on the sidewalk. The girls brought over bags of chips and hot dogs and cold cans of soda. They told their dad to make more sandwiches, fast.

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