The man walked away from the counter of the highway curio shop, old license plate in hand.
Vernon whispered to Jeremiah, “Gotta be Indiana. Lookit those plaid shorts.”
The man bent to place his discarded plate on the hanger with all the other donated plates from many states. It was part of the charm of Vernon’s Roadside Attractions on highway I-10 outside Separ, New Mexico. Native American jewelry and amusing antique toys decorated the shelves. They even displayed a terrarium with money from foreign countries. Their clientele decorated the shop as much as they did.
Jeremiah winced and looked away as the shopper bent over. He whispered back. “Showing a lot of crack, and he’s wearing dark socks with sneakers. Gotta be Iowa.”
The man stood and smoothed hair that looked styled in the 60s. He smiled as he waved and opened the door to leave.
“If y’all are hungry, stop in fer Benny’s Ribs up in Lordsburg,” said Vernon. “Tell ’em Vernon set ya’.”
“Oh ja, sure. Thanks!” said the man, and he left.
“Minnesota!” said Vernon and Jeremiah together.
“Let’s lookit at his license plate,” suggested Vernon, as he walked around the counter. He looked, and groaned. “Dangit!”
“It’s one a’ those fake license plates. It says he’s from Alpha Centauri.”
Vernon snatched up the plate. “This is only for real license plates! I’m givin’ it back to him.” He stomped angrily out the door.
After ten minutes, Jeremiah started to worry that Vernon got himself into another scrape. Just then Vernon walked in, staggering slightly.
“Vernon? You okay? What took so long?”
“I’m okay. Just fainted for a bit.”
“Well it’s mighty hot out there,” said Jeremiah, not really believing his own words.
“Ain’t the heat.”
“Well what happened?” Jeremiah watched Vernon solemnly place the Alpha Centauri license plate back in the display.
“I wuz gonna take a picture of ‘im and tell him to never come back. The guy turned when I snapped the picture.”
Vernon held up the pic on his phone.
Vernon looked down at the unconscious Jeremiah. “Yeah. That’s what I said.” He looked at the pic again. “Ain’t so bad the second time.” He continued as Jeremiah shook his head awake. “You know, if we get more folks like him, we’ll need a bigger license plate display. There’s LOTS of stars up there.” He studied the starship in the pic more carefully. “We’ll need a bigger parking lot too!”
Look here for more stories based upon the picture above by Joe Owens from the Sunday Photo Fiction writing challenge: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/sunday-photo-fiction-april-5-2015/