Monday, April 01, 2013

Asleep at the wheel

     Driving again.  Driving was all it seemed that he ever did anymore.  But, that was the life of a salesman though, the life he had chosen, the life that had bought his family's home, and fed them all these years.  He was a very successful salesman too, his companies best, the plaque on the wall of his office said so.  But, what had it gotten him?  Money?  Yes, there has been a lot of that.  But, money didn't really matter as much as successful people like to pretend it does.  Money is necessary sure, but in his drive to be successful to provide his family with the life that he wanted for them had, over time, just driven them further away.
     How many times had he taken this boring trip?  It seemed like at least a hundred.  This boring ass dive from St. Louis to Louisville trying to close the biggest deal of his career.  Gabe always hated this drive, it seemed to go on forever even though it only took a little bit more than four hours.  It was a mind numbing four hours, nothing but empty flat fields filled with oil pump jacks, and billboards to look at.  It was only a half hour flight to Louisville from home but, being cheap like he always had been, he drove it every time.
     Gabe knew that on this trip he really should have flown, despite his desire to save money.  Big executives always needed to be wined and dined for the close.  Especially on a huge contract, and this particular big wig, Lavall Fatcandice, needed it even more than most.  Gabe knew that before Fatcandice would ever put pen to paper on this deal there would be excessive greasing of the wheels.  Even though this final trip had been the last of more than ten, Fatcandice was a very big believer in ass kissing.  Especially when his was the ass that was being kissed.  So closing this deal with him would mean not only the normal big steak dinner, but plenty of lap dances at strip clubs, and also plenty of bourbon, the expensive kind, on the rocks of course.
     So, on his company's dime, he and Fatcandice had hit the town hard.  A little after midnight and over a thousand dollars in liquor and girls later, Fatcandice was satisfied, and he finally inked the deal.  Right afterward, Fatcandice called for his car, he shook Gabe's hand, and departed the tiny strip club.  Satisfied that the deal was finally done, Gabe headed home.  He hadn't drank nearly as much as old Lavall had, but he had drank a little too much to be trying to make the drive home tonight.  He knew he should have stayed an extra night in Louisville but, he just missed his wife so much that, aside from his better judgement, he had decided to go ahead make the drive right after the deal was done.  He missed his wife terribly, and he wanted to surprise her by arriving early.  So despite his buzz and heavy eyes, here he was making the now familiar, but boring, drive in the dark so he could be back home to Susan.
     Gabe's eyes grew heavy as he stared out at the empty blackness spread out in front of him and the hypnotic white lines of the highway speeding by his car.  As he struggled to focus on his driving his mind wandered to thoughts of his wife.  Susan had been the brightest spot in his life since they had first met in college.  Stricken at first by her outer beauty, Gabe had come to find his souls true mate in her inner beauty and kind heart.  Every truly valuable thing in Gabe's life he knew had come from Susan.  Just thinking of her made him smile inside and out.  He couldn't wait to get home early and surprise her.  She wasn't expecting him till tomorrow afternoon and he knew she would be as happy to see him as he would her.  Gabe imagined how he would quietly sneak into bed beside her, wake her with soft kisses, and make love to her by the light of the moon through their bedroom window.
     The next morning Gabe awoke slowly in their bed but, when he reached over to hold his wife, Susan wasn't there.  Just the imprint of her body in the sheets was left on her side of the bed.  He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes.  He couldn't for the life of him remember getting home.  He must have been a little more buzzed and tired than he had thought he was.  The whole trip just seemed like a blur to him.  But, here he was in his bed nonetheless, finally back home.  He looked around the room but, he didn't seem to recognize it.  Everything in his bedroom seemed different than it had been when he had last seen it.  Susan must have decorated a little while he was away in Louisville.  She had always loved to decorate and change things around the house, it was her hobby and, she claimed it helped to keep things fresh and new.  Even though her hobby was sometimes expensive, and Gabe had always been rather cheap, he had to admit that she did always make their home a welcome and beautiful place.  So, he took in the new bedroom so that he would be able to properly compliment her on the changes she had made and he got out of bed to go and find her.
     When he walked out of the bedroom he began to notice that there were quite a few other changes to the house than just the bedroom.  The whole layout of the house was different and, more than that, it felt foreign to him.  As he struggled to find his way in the strange house he felt as though he didn't belong there, like he was an intruder.  Gabe went on down the hallway and found the staircase.  He slowly descended the stairs as he looked at the pictures on the walls.  There were many pictures of Susan and his children but, no pictures of himself.  The people in the pictures of his family that lined the walls were all complete strangers to him, including the man who seemed to have taken his place in all of them.  Panic and fear ran through his body like a wild animal but Gabe forced his legs to continue on.  He didn't understand what he was seeing and his mind wanted to just outright reject it and run away but, he knew he had to find out what was going on here so, he proceeded down the stairs to find his wife and get some answers.
     Maybe this was all just some elaborate practical joke.  That had to be it.  Susan loved to pull little tricks on him. That had to be what this was.  Nothing else made any sense.  His mind tried to hold on to the idea that this was just a joke as he searched the strange house for his wife but, it just couldn't get a firm grasp on the idea.  Sure, Susan liked to pull practical jokes from time to time but, this couldn't be explained that easily.  As comforting as that thought might have been it just wasn't realistic at all.  Susan was a realtor so this could be a model home but what about the pictures or, the biggest key to the gag, how had she tricked him into driving to the wrong house?  So, no, it couldn't be a trick.  Comforting as that idea was it just didn't make any sense so, with that idea rejected, Gabe struggled to find some other way to explain the situation he had found himself in as he searched for his wife.
     He finally found her in the kitchen.  She seemed to be glowing, she looked so beautiful and happy.  She was standing at the counter mixing something, probably a cake Susan always loved to bake, in her large bowl.  She hadn't noticed him standing there as he watched her and before Gabe could even say anything the man from the pictures he had seen on the walls walked up behind her, put his arms around her waist, and kissed her neck gently.  Gabe's blood boiled with rage and jealousy at seeing this strange man caress and kiss his wife but, Susan just smiled happily, and leaned into him, still not noticing Gabe standing in the kitchen doorway watching all of this unfold before his eyes.  Breaking free of the paralysis that held him Gabe began to scream, "SUSAN!  SUSAN, WHAT IS THIS?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?  SUSAN!  ANSWER ME SUSAN!"
     "SUSAN, WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE!", Gabe screamed, waking himself up behind the wheel of his rental car.  He was moving very fast and was well off the highway heading straight towards a large oak tree.  Before he could react, or even fully absorb what was happening to him, his rented Town car collided violently with the tree.  Gabe never wore his seat belt because his Grandfather had always called them deathtraps so he was ejected straight through the windshield of the rental car headfirst and his body slammed against the large oak tree with enormous force.
     The hood of the car felt hot, he could see the smoke rising all around him, and he heard the hiss of the damaged engine.  In the distance he could see the headlights of the passing cars on the highway even though his vision was getting blurry.  He couldn't move at all, and he knew that he was dying.  The thought of his impending death had always filled him with dread but, as he slipped from the living world into the next, he felt surprisingly calm.  His mind had drifted from the hood of the rental car on the side of that highway in Indiana and he found himself thinking only of his beautiful wife, Susan, and his children.  The thought of his family soothed him in those final moments and, as he slipped away from this world, he was sure that his final dream had been a sign that they would be alright here on Earth without him until they were together again in Heaven.


  1. I'm glad someone else is doing short stories this AtoZ :) I did find the block text hard to read though. Great story and hope to come back another time.

    Jemima at Jemima's blog

    1. Thanks for your visit and comment. I'm glad you liked our little tale, and I hope we'll see you here again soon!

  2. Oh wow. I couldn't stop reading. I'm looking forward to B. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. This story almost didn't make it out of me in time for the challenge. I finished it at 10:30pm last night. Right before the buzzer.

  3. Cool, short stories! You are amazing, I can barely write a few sentences for each post. lol - best of luck to you on the rest of the challenge, looking forward to seeing what you do next. :)

    1. Wow! What a great compliment. I am speechless right now. Thank you.