My body ached in every possible place the next morning.
I pulled my pack over my shoulders and trudged down the on ramp to the Interstate by a sheer act of will. It had to have been obvious to everyone who drove by me that I was in bad shape.
After I walked a little over two miles, a cop appeared. He startled me and when I turned around, I gave him a tired grin.
He was a big guy with a kind face. And, as cops go, I will never forget him.
In fact, I will never forget how I felt or how I was treated in beautiful, Mayberry-like, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
I regret that I was unable to stay in that town. There is a shelter there but there was sincerely no room for me.
When we found that out, the cop drove me over to the local Greyhound bus station. He bought me a northbound ticket to Emporia, Virginia. Then, he pulled two crumpled bills out of his wallet and handed them to me. He shook my hand and wished me good luck before he turned around and walked away.
When I opened my hand, I discovered that he had given me fifteen-dollars. I slid the bills into my wallet and waited for the bus to come.
A woman who works at the bus station brought me a tall cup of coffee. Then two Jehovah's Witnesses sat down beside me and offered up a prayer for my safety.
One of the women hugged me and then the other one made sure that I had a good seat on the bus.
"Thanks, y'all" I called to them, through the window, as the bus pulled away. They waved at me, with genuine smiles on their Black faces.
And with that, I took a bus trip that finally led me back out of North Carolina.