The Great and Powerful Oz
No matter how many chickens were sacrificed in the making of this story, I failed to obtain ownership of the characters. They still belong to their perspective creators.
The first sign Bandit had that something was odd came rather late. One minute the passenger seat was empty, and the next it wasn’t and his new passenger was looking around curiously at the scenery speeding by.
“You, uh, you make a habit of appearing in moving cars like that?” he asked, glancing sideways at the red haired kid.
“Not usually. First time for everything, though.” The boy shifted slightly and fingered some beads on his arm. “I’m Oz.”
Bandit nodded. “Good handle. Call me the Bandit.”
“Hey Bandit, got your ears on, good buddy?”
He passed his eyes across the kid one more time as he picked up the CB. “I’m here, Snowman. What’s cookin?”
“You read my mind, Bandit! Fred n’me, we gonna stopover at that choke’n’puke up here, you in, come back?”
“Ten Four, Snowman. Have to sort out a bit of a problem with our manifest anyway. Over.”
“What problem, come back?”
“It don’t cover randomly appearing passengers.”
“Hah! What is it with you pickin’ up hitchikers in the middle of a run? This one as cute as the last one?”
“Well,” Bandit cast a sidelong glance at the boy who still sat watching him calmly, “I suppose he ain’t too bad if you swing that way, but I still prefer Frog. Over.”
“Hah! I’ll bet!”
Bandit waited till he finished the conversation, then turned the car around to head back to the truck stop to meet Cletus.
The Transam pulled into the parking lot next to a large rig, which clearly hadn’t been there long since the driver was still climbing down from the cab. Oz watched his host jump out and slap the driver on the back before he climbed out himself and stood behind them.
They made small talk for a moment before the truck driver glanced back at him and looked back to his friend for an introduction.
“Snowman, meet Oz, Oz, Snowman. Oz is either the world’s greatest magician or incredibly unlucky.”
“Hey, Oz. I’m Cletus. You do tricks?”
“I was never great at magic. Too much chanting.”
“Is that right?” He stared for a moment longer before something still in the cab of the truck bumped his shoulder. “Oh, hey, you comin’ out, Fred?” He reached in and picked up a large basset hound before setting him down on the ground. “Oz, this is Fred, Fred meet Oz.”
Oz looked down at the dog as it shuffled forward a little bit before whining and rolling over onto its back at his feet.
“Well, hot damn, you are a magician, Oz! Ain’t nobody in the world could make that dog behave! You interested in a ride?”
Oz looked between the two drivers and glanced back at the dog before shrugging his shoulders. “Haven’t got any place else to be.”