The Shorcut

Submitted into Contest #122 in response to: Start your story in the middle of a traffic jam.... view prompt



                                   THE SHORTCUT

He can’t believe it. There is traffic on this road. He pounds his fist into the steering wheel and brakes to a full stop. There has never been traffic on this road. That’s why he deemed it a shortcut. Nobody knows about this shortcut. “I hate traffic!” His eyes get wide, and his mouth drops open as he realizes he did tell that cute girl at the party the other night. Looking at himself in the rearview he rolls eyes at himself and smacks his forehead with his palm. “Oh my god! I knew I shouldn’t have had that third drink. She probably wasn’t even that cute. Certainly not cute enough to tell my secret to. She probably told other people. That’s it, the only reason there could be traffic on this road.”

“Okay google, call James Hardey” The speaker comes on in the car and James answers. “Joe, where are you? Your late.”

“I’m sitting in traffic. I am sitting in traffic on my shortcut. There’s never traffic on this shortcut!”

“What shortcut? Where are you? You better get here soon!”

The van ahead moves up a foot then slams on its brakes, so he does too, right into the bumper. Joe cusses. A lot.

“Damn it!” he screams into the speaker. “Remember that hot girl I told you about at the party?”


“Well I told her about the shortcut, thinking I might get lucky. Suddenly there is traffic here. She probably told people about it.”

“You never told me about a shortcut. Why didn’t you ever tell me about a shortcut. I am your best friend, Joe.”

“I am not sitting in this traffic. I am too smart. Only dumb people sit in traffic. These people are dumb. Forget it. I’m not coming James.”

“What! You must come. We can’t close the deal if you’re not here Joe.”

“I’m going home. Goodbye James.”

Joe punches the close button on the phone icon and the line goes silent. Reversing, forwarding and reversing again to un-squeeze his vehicle out of the jam, horns honk and people wave and shout out their windows because his maneuvers are causing others to shift and brake in dangerously close proximity to each other and on a relatively steep hill in order to assist his unraveling, but he is intense and determined. His Jaw is tight. His heart is jumping, and his fist is clenched out the window in a fight stance for those who wish to challenge him. Eventually he is able to make a U-turn in the middle of the narrow two-lane highway to start his descent. Free at last. But because he doesn’t see the semi-truck heading from the hill behind him and the truck couldn’t see him in time to slow because of the hill and the corner it just turned, the truck slams into Joe’s back end, crunches the trunk into the back seat like an accordion and his front end into the traffic stream of cars he just got himself out of.

Now the road is completely blocked with his and other damaged vehicles as well as the semi that is now t-boned. No one is hurt but people start getting out of their cars to cuss at this man who has wreaked havoc in the canyon. As people approach, he only thinks they are concerned about his safety of course. That big truck just smacked the back of him. The looks on their faces and the things that are coming out of their mouths say otherwise. He is oblivious as to why they should be upset with him. What are they doing on his shortcut anyway? He gets out of his car, now surrounded by the crowd hurling insults, rubs his bald head and asks the question he wondered earlier. “Have you ever seen traffic on this road? Have any of you ever driven it before?” The chorus goes silent as most shake their heads no and from the back of the crowd a cute little blonde pushes through and grabs him in a tight hug. She says “Hi James. Remember me from the party the other night. I hope you’re okay. You look okay, but I gotta tell ya’ this sure doesn’t seem like a big secret shortcut to me. What do ya’ say? Kind of a mess huh?”

Joe thinks she is not cute enough. He uncoils her arms from around his waist and looks her up and down. Yeah, definitely not cute enough. As a matter of fact, kinda homely or at least just average considering the circumstances. The look of disgust on his face reflects back from her eyes and she starts to tear up. Oh no, he thinks. Please don't cry, oh geez that's all I need right now. She begins to wail and the crowd empathizes with her having nothing but contempt for this fool. The cute girl has a fan base now and her tears dry up with the momentum of the anger energy brewing about. She begins to flail her arms and starts shouting "He was only trying to get laid. He's nothing but a pig!"

Joe backs up slowly, arms in front of his chest shaking his head back and forth. "No, no, wait. She wanted a secret. I never tell my secrets. She was trying to seduce ME. This is all her fault!" The crowd rushes just as he is able to get back in his car but now they are jumping on it and trying to break glass. The phone rings just as sirens blare outside. In reflex he answers. It's Betty, his wife.

"Where are you?"

"Uh, I'm in the car, there has been an accident."

"There is talk about a shortcut on instagram. I saw you and a cute little blondy hugging in a screenshot. You didn't look hurt to me. That is no accident. You said the big important deal was going through today and you couldn't make it for lunch with me. As a matter of fact, you looked quite content and cozy in that photograph. Looks like you took her on the shortcut. Why didn't you ever tell me about a shortcut? I'm your wife."

"You don't understand. If I told you about the shortcut you'd tell all your friends and then it wouldn't be a shortcut. I was on my way to the meeting on my shortcut that isn't a shortcut anymore! There WAS an accident. A semi crashed into me for god's sake. That girl, that girl was a bystander worried for my safety. No. Never mind, I told her, I told her about the shortcut and that's why all this happened. I told her and she told people and they all came and now it's not a shortcut, I blew the deal, the car is destroyed and now your mad at me." There was a brief pause as he waited for Bettys reply. His eyes were dark and liquidy, nervous. It was now coyote quiet outside the car. He could see the lights of the emergency trucks in his side view mirrors but the sirens were still.

"No, I am not mad at you. I just think your deranged and I need you to pick up some bagels on the way home. Then I would like to get on a shortcut. A shortcut to divorce." Click. The line went dead and an officer walked up to the car door and asked him to roll down his window. She looked cute. The window was stuck. The door was stuck. He couldn't open it and the cute officer was livid. Joe looked her over, the lady in blue, up and down, up and down and decided she wasn't cute enough.

November 26, 2021 19:57

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Thomas Giorgione
21:18 Dec 08, 2021

I agree with the main character: shortcuts are a sacred thing. Fun stuff.


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James Crilley
16:28 Dec 04, 2021

It reminded me of an episode 5, Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11.


V Hew
17:02 Dec 04, 2021

That would be an amazing compliment! I'll check it out.


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