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Suspense Thriller

This story contains sensitive content

(contains physical violence, substance abuse and language)

The road looked blurry. The two lane highway had turned to four. Back and forth Jonathan swerved behind the seat of his truck. Back and forth. Back and forth. He tipped back the rest of his Coors and tossed the can outside the window. The blowing air felt nice on his face. It pushed back his hair and gave him the scent of a summer night. 

Jonathan reached over to grab another beer from the case. As he reached he pulled the steering wheel with him and the truck lurched. Veering towards the ditch, he grabbed the wheel and swerved back onto the main road. 

“WHOO! FUCK YEAH!” He cracked his beer and tossed another swig down his throat. The road was a country back road that was barely populated with anything other than deer and beer cans. But, unbeknownst to Jonathan, there was someone else on the road that night. 

Flashing red and blue lights appeared from behind his truck. 

“Motherfucker!” he reached for the case of beer and threw it in the back seat, spilling the cans loose all over his front and back seats.

He slowed down and pulled over fast, rushing to clean up his mess. The glovebox of his old truck popped open, revealing his revolver that sat loaded on top of his reserve cans of chewing tobacco. 

“Fuck! Shit-shit-shit…” He grabbed the gun and glanced at his driver’s side mirror. The cop was walking towards him, the reflection of his badge dancing in the red and blue lights. He knew this cop, oh boy did he know this cop. It was his ex-wife’s newly married husband.

Jonathan threw the gun out of the passenger side window into the ditch below. As the cop walked up, he put on his best sober impression. 

“Carl! Good evening. What did I do this time?” Only Jonathan laughed. 

“Jonny, cut the bullshit man, I’ve already pulled you over once tonight for drunk driving. God damnit, how can you expect me to keep bailing your ass out?” 

“What-?”

“I mean it’s your baby girl’s birthday tomorrow and you’re out here pissing around. I get you might not like me or the situation we’re in, but-” 

“Carl, what did you say?” 

“What are you talking about, Jonny? It’s Sarah’s ninth birthday tomorrow-” 

“No, no. I mean, you already pulled me over?” 

“Yes, Jonny! About an hour ago pretty much in this same spot! How drunk are you?” 

Jonathan was drunk, but not drunk enough to forget he left the bar only 15 minutes ago. 

“I didn’t- I was at the-” 

“Yeah, I know! You was at King’s. You told me that when I pulled you over last time.” Jonathan didn’t reply. He stared off, confused. “Alright, Jon, get out of the truck. You know I won’t arrest your ass because you mean too much to Sarah, for reasons I obviously fail to understand. I’ll just bring you to the station and you can sleep it off. Jim will come out and tow your truck sometime tomorrow. Let’s go… let’s go!” 

Carl pulled Jonathan out of his truck and walked him over to the squad car, sitting him down in the back seat. No words were said until Jonathan vomited all over the back seat a mile from the station. 

“Motherfucker…” mumbled Carl. 

- - -

The following afternoon Jonathan stumbled out of the police station with a clear plastic bag of his belongings. Sorting through he found his chew can and packed a lipful in his mouth. Walking and spitting he made his way back downtown to King’s Bar. 

It was a dingy tavern, not one of the club types the 20-somethings go to. There was a bar, some tables, a dart board, a pool table and a pisser. None of the goddamn dance floors that Jonathan despised. He knocked on the door of the bar. Shelli King, the owner, peered out from a window above. 

“What, you want your truck back?” 

“What- my truck?” 

“You left it in the back lot last night. Gave me the keys and told me to hang on to them, you’d be back in the morning. Said you went to get a present for your daughter, but I don’t know what you were getting at 3 a.m.” Shelli gave a hearty laugh that was not returned by Jonathan. “I’ll come down and let you in.” Shelli disappeared from the window. 

Confused and hungover, Jonathan looked into his plastic bag. The keys for his truck sat next to his chew can. His head pounded as he tried to make sense of it all. Shelli opened the door, hanging a pair of truck keys, the same keys, in front of his eyes. 

“Can I… can I go take a look?”

“It’s your damn truck Jonny. I don’t give a damn what you do.” Shelli walked away from the door, leaving it opened in front of Jonathan. He walked through the bar and saw his truck parked in the back parking lot, just as Shelli had said. He strolled out, taking in the truck as he did not fully believe it was his. 

Jonathan climbed into the truck and sat behind the seat. Everything was the same, from the cans littering the floors to the cigarette burn on the steering wheel. He used his set of keys and the truck roared to life. Shutting it off and using the other set, the truck roared back on. Feeling increasingly panicked, he turned toward the glovebox. He opened and his loaded revolver sat on top of his reserve chew cans. He swallowed hard and slammed the glove box shut.  

He jumped out of his truck and stumbled into the bar. 

“Bathroom…” he mumbled to Shelli as he passed, sweat dripping down his face. 

“Hey, Jon-” Shelli was interrupted as he slammed the bathroom door shut and locked it. He splashed cold water onto his face, soaking his shirt. 

“Wake up… wake up… wake up….” He was going crazy on his daughter’s birthday. Carl was there, being the father he never could be. He couldn’t remember his nights, he got drunk to ease his constantly racing mind, and today would be the day when his daughter would never see him as a father again. 

Shelli stood behind the bar as he walked out from the bathroom soaked in water and tears. 

“Jonathan…” he sat down at the bar in front of her.

“I need to wake up. For me. For my daughter. It’s her birthday today.” He stared down at his muddy boots, fiddling with a napkin. 

“I know.” 

“I don’t have a present.” 

Shelli was quiet and patient. She let him fiddle with the napkin and soon placed her hand on his and slowly took the folded napkin from his hands. Jonathan had folded it into a flower. 

“I think you do have a present.” 

Jonathan’s eyes looked up at the folded white paper flower. He wiped his tears and smiled. 

“Thank you.” 

Shelli handed the flower back to Jonathan and rubbed his hand. She returned the smile and went back to cleaning dishes behind the bar. 

He still had time to see Sarah, to surprise her with the little flower. I wasn’t much, but it was but a reminder that he was still there. He still was her father despite his constant failures. He walked to his truck, climbed in, and a gunshot fired into his back. 

He didn’t die instantly. He sat unable to move as blood dripped from his mouth. A man climbed out of the back into the passenger seat. This man was familiar. This man was Jonathan. 

They stared at each other before the man spoke. 

“I know this is confusing. It always is. But you won’t have to think about it very much longer.” 

“Who… who?” 

“I am you, Jonathan. A parallel you.” a dying Jonathan coughed blood onto himself, his life fading. 

“Why…” 

“Because I’ve waited a very long time. We never get our chance to shine, to have the spotlight, so when an opportunity arises we have to take it. Besides, no one will miss you."

"Sarah..." a dying Jonathan coughed.

"Oh, well she might care if she ever knew. All she'll know after this is a father that is actually there for her. I'm a better you and the best need to shine. I’m not a drunk, I have a truck,” the parallel Jonathan grabbed the non-bloody pair of keys from the plastic bag. “I have my life, and, most importantly, I have a present.”

The parallel Jonathan reached over and took the napkin flower from dying Jonathan’s hands. “This will do nicely. I’ll make sure our daughter gets it.”

July 30, 2022 03:14

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1 comment

Mustang Patty
12:39 Aug 01, 2022

Hi Kyle, Great storyline!! I enjoyed the read, along with the ride. Your writing techniques could use some strengthening. (Along with many of us!) I found many missing commas, incorrect prepositions, and weak word choices. These are the kinds of things that practice and study will help - along with READING. Keep it up! ~MP~

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