Adventure Speculative

One may not think of me as a man of good. Lucky ones find me a criminal, a hooligan, a somebody wanting a paycheck with no remorse to the consequences of how it was signed or how much blood pooled the money I used for a red bull or socks. In fact, I prefer people consider me a nobody. Do not consider me. I do not exist, as the missing people's reports state. 

My instructions are clear cut, obvious and simple. I leave my beauty of a ruby red pickup truck in overnight parking, get into a mini van with her fair share of scrapes and bruises to a disclosed location; same location, my bosses are simple. Every week, at the very minimum, someone, some many, waited for me. They varied in gender, race, height, wealth, looks, whatever. Usually with bags upon bags of memories and home, though a few crumpled dollar bills and cigars shoved deep into a pocket aren't uncommon. I wait for them, eyes locked on my dash clock; this old scrap of metal counted time down to the very seconds, and if my passenger didn't pick up the pace to get comfortable in a seat within thirty seconds, I roll past and make my way to the nearest convenience store, hoping Ashley would be there. She never recognized me, but she had a sassy attitude and cute mole on her cheekbone. What I would do to give that mole a kiss as I left for work, but alas, I could not cheat on my paychecks. 

Memories of my passengers are blurs- less memories and more passing conversations on their one-way road trip. On warm days, where my window opens a crack and the old radio plays a too familiar tune, I remember the young toddler a frail woman held, asking me what my favorite animal was. I had made eye contact with his young mother, her black eye shimmering with cheap foundation, and muttered owl with a half-hearted smile; that same boy later fell asleep on my lap, his mother apologetically muttering before finally succumbing to her exhaustion. Some days, staring at the bleeding sunset, I wonder where she found the dollars and courage to run away with her little boy; those same days I replace the red bull with a beer, and my nights are less gruesome. 

Despite what others may think if words spread about my charity work, I have never been attacked. Sure, shady dudes have been in my cars; desperate idiots who made too many mistakes needing to run away from their past in my car, scratching at their wrists as their eyes flick from me to their window. Those types of passengers are the ones who get the cigars; the real ones, not any cigarettes' with that bullshit toilet cleaner in it. Real, Cuban cigars, letting the air soak in a sort of common-ground connection between passenger and driver. They work every time; some guys open up, weeping and letting their inner demons use their tongues. Other times they become even quieter, calmer, staring out the window and lulling themselves into a relaxed state. More than once, I wonder whether I can risk giving away the brand name, or ripping the logo from the box and handing empty men a new comfort item. I refrain.

My driver never did that. 

His face was blank. I had stumbled into his backseat, hardly able to close the door before he drove off. The road would stretch for four hours. At first all I did was let my emotions take all my energy; I cried, clawed at my knees, banged my head against the headrest as my lungs clawed for air, head rushing with horrid thoughts and images of pursued terror. After an exhaustion nap, I woke up to find the streetlamps shining down on me. I asked my driver for the time; he answered with a matter-of-fact tone. 11:38.

"Can we pull over real quick?" I muttered, hiccupping slightly. 

"We don' stop for nothin'."

"I'm gonna throw up..."

I fell to my knees at the convulsions, gravel cutting into my palms as I hacked into a patch of grass. I had left the door open behind me; no sound came from inside. After a moment of heaving breaths, I excused myself to stumble towards a bundle of dried-out bushes. I came out expecting to be alone, but no; he stayed. Holding out a cigarette. 

"I don't smoke," I had whispered, voice hoarse and tongue sour as I closed the door. 

"You better start. Life only be gettin' shittier with time."

I had froze, half in the process of buckling my seatbelt. My driver took that as an answer and began driving, gently turning into traffic and sighing a bit as he stretched. My vision became blurry with memories; harsh hits, fingers tangling in my hair to force my vision up, screams of anguish mixed with vicious cussing. 

Would life really get shittier?

I sighed as I parked my pickup, patting her dash out of habit. As I walked towards my apartment, Trevor spotted me from his porch and waved; I simply nodded, hat casting a shadow over my head. Opening my door, I was greeted with a meow that managed to startle me to the point of dropping my keys. Pop sat on the fridge with a guilty look and I couldn't help but chuckle at how humane his reactions were. I let him jump on my shoulder, his purrs of satisfaction echoing through my skull at the smell of cat food coming from the new tin can I bought; Pop wasn't picky, being half wild after all, but somehow his delight always pleasantly surprised me. His eating sounds were pretty adorable. I tended to my own dinner as he ate on the counter, licking his whiskers and watching me curiously as I peeled potatoes, chuckling whilst plopping them into water while Pop tried to eat a peel. 

"Dumb cat," I mutter as he gags, glaring at the piece of compost in hatred. Once the mashed potatoes are complete I top them off with sausage and shuffle over to the couch, where Pop joins me on the other side of the cushions to watch another science-fiction TV show. As I munch on my simple dinner, I usually feel a sense of pride; my bed was my couch, my counter my feral cat's playground, and it was paradise at the end of a long day. I travel for a living, meet new people and most importantly of all, I drop them off in a land of change; good or bad, their decision. 

All that mattered was their old life was the shittier one.

January 09, 2021 04:57

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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