A few years ago, my friend Cody and I were driving between Prince George, a rough town in the middle of British Columbia, and Merritt. We had just worked a 28-day shift on a pipeline, and we were excited. Spring break up was in full swing, and most of the winter’s work was winding down. A little ways out of Prince, in a tiny shithole of a town called Hixon, we spotted a hitchhiker. He looked decent enough–clean clothes, clean shaven, no obvious signs of a mental illness that would leave us beheaded in a ditch–so we decided to pick him up. He had nothing with him except for a cardboard box, about two feet wide and two feet high.
He was a decent guy, at first. In his mid-twenties, he sat quietly in the backseat, the box on his lap, not saying much. “From a town up north,” he answered when Cody asked him where he was from. “Not sure where, just south,” he told me when I asked him where he was heading. Not rude, just not forthcoming. He spent the whole time looking out the window, never looking at us. Then, something weird happened. Cody asked him what was in the box. For the first time, he looked directly at us. “That’s none of your fucking business,” he whispered. We laughed, despite how creepy it was.
Cody glanced at me, one eyebrow up, and we kept driving in silence for another ten minutes. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to know. “Man, just tell us what’s in the box!” I laughed, looking at him in the rearview mirror. “This is killing me!” Looking directly at me in the mirror, his face darkened. “I told you. That’s NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!” Shouting now, he continued. “WHY DO YOU CARE WHAT’S IN THE BOX!? SHUT UP ABOUT THE BOX! IT’S NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!” Cody, ever the pacifist, tried to calm him down. “Man, relax,” he told him. “It’s fine. Don’t tell us. No big deal.” The hitchhiker, though, wouldn’t let up. “IT’S MY FUCKING BOX! IT’S NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS WHAT’S IN IT!” He continued shouting for the next five minutes or so, getting more and more wound up, spittle flying from his now-crazed mouth, his eyes flashing with anger. Finally, I had enough.