hutch was about thirty years old and was a night watchman at a farming implements warehouse a couple of miles down highway 80 past the stop-here.
his shift was from nine at night until five in the morning, and almost every night when he got off he would drop into the stop-here to shoot the shit with rob. and sometimes even buy something - usually a can of red bull or a large cup of black coffee. or a pack of beef jerky.
hutch had a heavily scarred face that was covered by a black beard almost up to his eyes. this and his crooked teeth made him look - and to be told by many of his fellow humans that he looked - like a werewolf.
he drove one of the last original volkswagen bugs on the road, which he had inherited from his stepmother, and was kind of sensitive about it.
“i ain’t no fucking hippie,” he assured anyone who became aware of his vehicle. “look, it’s painted an ordinary blue. and you don’t see no fucking peace signs or flowers or peace symbols on it, do you?”
a lot of people did not even know what he was talking about, and just nodded.
at five in the morning the stop-here was usually deserted, and hutch and rob would have long conversations with hutch doing most of the talking.
unlike rob, who had almost no interest in the subject, hutch’s main subject of conversation was sex - actually porno.
he could talk at length about different porn stars, different “eras” of porn, different directors and their different styles, and “the state of the industry” - straight and gay, even though “i ain’t no faggot. i’m totally against it.”
hutch had another obsession - feminists. he had never actually known any feminists, and would have been as astonished to actually meet one as he would have been to meet a zombie or a martian.
his knowledge of feminism was derived from the newspapers and television - especially fox news. and what he knew disturbed him profoundly and inspired passionate denunciations, which sometimes disconcerted customers who walked into the stop-here.
if rob could get a word in, he usually talked about the true crime books he read, or about murders and shootings prominent in the news.
rob was tempted to describe his fantasies of becoming a vigilante and tracking down killers, but something about hutch held him back.
rob’s dreams had advanced to the point where he mused on recruiting a “crew” of like-minded individuals to track down killers who had escaped justice. but… hutch just did not seem right.
and hutch might even laugh at him.
at six o’clock customers usually started coming in. six to seven was by far the busiest time of rob’s shift, and he very often stayed beyond seven, because his relief had not shown up, or sometimes he would stay a little late to help out if it got really busy.
he hoped mrs peters knew about that and appreciated it.
when rob was busy, hutch would usually hang around and wait for rob and they would go out to the parking lot together.
hutch would keep talking beside their cars, until rob could finally get away. rob would cringe when someone else waked by when hutch was talking in his loud voice about some really colossal dick or really hairy pussy he had seen the other night.
a crisis occurred. rob was ringing up the sale of a six-pack of diet coke one morning when he saw hutch slip a pack of mallo-cups into his pocket.
rob was too shocked to say anything, even later in the parking lot, but he confronted hutch the next night as soon as they were alone, and told him as emphatically as he could that such behavior was totally unacceptable.
hutch made no attempt to defend himself, but was profusely apologetic. he dd not actually shed tears, but came close. he swore “on his mother’s grave” - rob vaguely remembered hutch saying he never knew his mother or knew if she were dead or alive - and promised, absolutely fucking promised, my brother, that it would never happen again.
after this rob and hutch actually got a little closer, and rob considered telling hutch about his dream.
hutch suggested that they trade things - some of hutch’s dvds for rob’s true crime books or documentary dvds.
rob was not enthusiastic but went along with the suggestion to be friendly. he also thought giving hutch the true crime material might make him more interested in it. to the point that he might even become a useful confederate.
rob did not want to watch the porno, or even take it home where ruth might see it.
hutch’s dvds began piling up in the trunk of rob’s car.