Chapter 10 Summary

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As Bud walks to Grand Rapids, he comes to Flint’s town limits. On one side, the sign invites people to come back to Flint soon; on the other side, it welcomes people entering Flint. This amuses Bud. For a short while, he jumps in and out of town by crossing and recrossing the boundary line.

When he grows bored, Bud decides to start walking again. He quickly notices that the country sounds very different from the city. Where Flint was filled with the blasting of car horns and trucks without mufflers, his ears are filled now with a blasting silence broken only by bugs, frogs, and an occasional yowling cat. He imagines that here the creatures in the grass and bushes play hide-and-seek; when caught, they are eaten. The idea makes the solitary youngster look at his journey in a new light.

Bud is nervous about the country sounds, and now he is very much aware of the cars that pass on the road. When he starts out, the sound of an approaching vehicle drives him into hiding until he is alone again. After a time, the boy becomes less careful about showing himself. Drivers passing him do not stop but continue on their way. At one point, however, an automobile passes him, and when the driver catches sight of Bud, he slows and then puts the car in reverse.

Bud has decided to hide even as the driver gets out and whistles several times to attract his attention. Eventually the man, dressed in what seems to be a soldier’s hat, talks to Bud and encourages him to come out. Bud resists.

The driver explains that seeing a brown-skinned youngster on his way to Owosso, Michigan, at two-thirty in the morning made him stop because he is somewhere he should not be. In fact, the owner of the car suggests that even he, an adult, should not be there.

A new thought occurs to this traveling visitor—he tells Bud that he figures the boy might be hungry. That is all the youngster needs to hear. When food is mentioned, he starts to cautiously speak. The idea of a baloney sandwich and red pop (soda) are more than he can resist. He asks the man to leave the food and drink by the road but is refused. The food can be his if Bud shows his face.

Bud comes out of hiding. When he sees the sandwich bag and the brilliant red of the pop in the bottle, he walks to the man as if hypnotized. On closer inspection, Bud realizes that what he thought was a soldier’s hat is actually that of a chauffeur.

The driver refuses to hand the sandwich and drink over until they have talked a little, and he admits he has a problem with which he needs help. Bud refers to his long list of rules, suspecting that if an adult says he needs a kid’s assistance, it probably means there is a trick involved.

As they continue to speak, it becomes clear that there is no threat to Bud. The individual before him is worried about a black boy being out alone on the road. In fact, Bud notices that the grown-up before him is nervously looking around himself, and Bud realizes that being in someone else’s company might not be such a bad idea after all.

Bud tells the driver his name but lies and says he has run away from Grand Rapids. (He has no intention of being returned to the Home or to the Amoses.) This news surprises the man, who explains that he has just left Grand Rapids and will be returning there tomorrow.

After Bud retrieves his suitcase from the bushes, all the while being held on the arm by his new companion. He explains that there is a sign on the outskirts of Owosso, Michigan, that tells people of color to be on their way. With the language cleaned up, it says, “Don’t Let the Sun Set on Your Rear End in Owosso.”

The two go to the car. In the front seat, there is a box that the black gentleman moves to the back, but Bud has seen the writing on the side: “URGENT! CONTAINS HUMAN BLOOD!!!”

Bud’s imagination carries him away, and he imagines that he is in the company of a vampire; he cannot think of anyone else who would need to keep blood on hand except a vampire without a human to suck dry. Quicker than one might think possible, the boy locks all the doors to the car, slides into the driver’s seat, puts the car in gear, and slams the gas pedal down. The car lurches quickly forward. Soon  the “vampire” is running down the road trying to catch his car—and Bud.

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