Chapter 1 The Crash
Omar Watson sat on the side of the highway contemplating the awesome power of a middle finger.
Who knew middle fingers had so much power? Who knew that one simple, silent gesture had the power to scream? Who knew that one ordinary finger, slightly longer than any other, had the power to give you an enemy – damn near instantly! Omar had never had an enemy before, but after his father, Jasper, cast a nice fat middle finger on Highway 71, now he did. This was all new and exciting to him.
In fact, everything in the past year had been exciting to him; he noted as black smoke poured from his father’s car, creating thick billows that danced in the sky.
It was exciting when he got down on one knee and stammered the words, “Will you marry me?” He remembered feeling butterflies fly around in his stomach and thinking, perhaps for the first time ever, that he may be in love.
It was exciting when she walked away from him without warning. It felt like pigeon poop splattering on an unsuspecting bald head—cold, wet, and unforgiving. It was exciting when he decided in a panic he was moving across the country. The breakup had served as a reminder that life is to be lived, and you only live it by living. An unfortunate sobering reality.
Finally, it was exciting when the car suddenly veered off the road and flew into the air before rolling to a stop. The twisted metal screeched an unholy symphony that would surely haunt his dreams for nights to come.
Omar leaned against the large support beam under the bridge and rubbed his fingers across the cool concrete cylinder. The friction was somehow comforting and took him back to where it all began.
He and Jasper had cruised past mile marker “who-the-fuck-knows-where” and found themselves teetering on the line between annoyed and dazed. Jasper was all elbows and knees behind the wheel, staring down the road as if he was trying to will a gas station into existence. His large afro poured into his eyes and he kept drinking a Coke – not because he was thirsty, but to calm him down. Next to him, Omar was practically curled into a ball on the passenger seat. Despite his small frame, he was massaging his temples so hard; you’d think he was trying to dig a hole into his head. This was the first time in 5 years he was with his father and it was going about as well as he expected.
In the back of their minds, a stubborn voice wouldn’t stop reminding them they should’ve gassed up back at the last station as they watched the orange gas gauge needle inch dangerously closer to “E,” like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
In front of them, long stretches of pavement went on for miles before fading into the grey horizon and the long stretches of green farmland in the Ohio countryside started to blend together.
And then, when all hope was nearly lost, Jasper saw a bright blue sign that appeared like a gift from the heavens above. “BP Gas station – 1 mile.” Jasper’s mouth eased into a smile. “About damn time.”
He glanced over at Omar, who looked as if he didn’t appreciate the situation or the salvation. Instead, he was hunched over, the phone’s glow bouncing off his glasses, reflecting images of his former fiancé in the outstretched arms of another man. Even more troubling, to the right of Omar, smack dab in their way, was the lady still driving alongside them.
For the past 2 hours, Jasper and the lady had been caught up in the worst kind of race: the kind without a finish line. Despite miles and miles of clean air and open road, these two were in a never-ending dance of passing, speeding up, and passing again. When one car would gain the lead, the other would fly forward until they could read the bumper sticker, push the pedal down, and retake the lead.
And what started off as an innocent coincidence would soon become personal, as these matters of the mind often do.
In the quiet of the car ride, Jasper’s mind had become incredibly convinced this lady was in fact, out to get him as he tried to size up her motives.
Did I cut her off a while ago?
Does she know me from my past?
Is there something she’s trying to tell me?
He cut his eyes to the mirror and frowned as he noticed her oblivious smile.
“Can you believe this fuckin’ lady?” Jasper grunted after his 36th failed attempt.
Omar only shrugged. His gaze hadn’t left his phone.
“She needs to get the fuck off this road!” Jasper pleaded with the plastic dashboard, which offered silent sympathy.
“Get her attention; she’s got to let us over.” He said, nudging Omar.
Omar looked up from his phone and glanced at the clueless lady.
She wore big black sunglasses that covered her face and made her look like a fly. And her head was tilted down, staring at her phone, which of course, is the last thing anyone wants to see while driving at 70 miles per hour. It was a miracle she kept the car on the road.
“She’s texting and you can’t pass her? Have you tried using your blinker?” Omar asked with just enough sass to make any father’s blood boil.
“Of course I did! What do you think?”
Jasper’s mouth curled down as he glanced at his tank, another tick closer to E. He wailed on the horn.
“Get the fuck out of the way!” Jasper screamed, his fist pounding the dash.
About 1000 yards out, the exit ramp appeared like a mirage in the desert and tasting salvation, Jasper tapped the break. It was time to lose this bitch.
Not so fast.
Despite staring at her phone, she found a way to block his exit and match his speed. It was as if there was a magnet was between the cars. And that’s when it all happened.
Jasper’s nostrils flared. He slammed down on the automatic window button, pushed his son back into the seat, and gave the lady the bird.
“Move the fuck over!” It was American as Johnny Appleseed, holding a firework, while riding a bald eagle.
And then, she looked up and did the most inconceivable thing. She smiled and waved, which had the effect of short-circuiting Jasper.
His jaw dropped, his face twisted, and he looked as if he had seen a ghost, still staring at the apparition. Unfortunately, something ahead of them was scarier.
“Watch out!” Omar screamed, his eyes widening.
Standing smack dab in the middle of the road was a 10-point buck delivered from Karma herself. Jasper, still staring at the lady, didn’t see it coming.
And he didn’t have to; his other senses did the heavy lifting.
He felt the impact of hitting the buck at 70 miles per hour.
He heard the shatter of glass cry out with sudden deafening force.
He smelled the engine mix with the cool outdoor air that bites your nose.
And when he looked up, he saw the world was upside down as the car began to roll.
Omar’s move was over before it even began.
Chapter 2 The Briefcase
There’s always a moment where you know you fucked up, but you don’t want to accept it. So you distract yourself. You think of everything that could happen instead of everything that did happen. It’s a coping mechanism, a lie disguised as a thin layer of hope that you’re dead set on making true. And hiding behind this thin layer of hope, Omar snapped out of it, the reality fading in, one wave of nausea at a time.
The world was spinning. Omar crawled out from under the front passenger window and struggled to put on his glasses. The thin frames wiggled up and down, and the sight moved from blurred to clear. When he came to, he saw the destruction.
What was once a reliable, run-of-the-mill Honda Civic looked as if it was in a monster truck jam – only it wasn’t the monster truck. It was the car that monster trucks run over. Pointy metal scraps lay spread all over the road, and there was enough glass scattered that it looked like a pinata created by a madman had just gone off. Dark, black smoke started to climb to the heavens above, and the wheels were still spinning, remembering what it was like to be on the road.
The door rumbled forward and kicked up dirt as Jasper fell out, holding a can of Coke. Beads of sweat rolled down his face.
“That fucking bitch!” Jasper screamed while cracking the Coke open. He took a sip.
“Dad, what the fuck were you thinking?!” Omar huffed. “Did you not fucking see it?”
“What do you think? Do you think I wanted to crash my fuckin’ car? Here in the ass crack of America? Do you think I wanted that?” Jasper said with a frown. “Come on now, I don’t have any hemorrhoid cream!”
“Damnit, Dad! Why would you insist on coming if you’re going to do this!” Omar cried.
Jasper shook like an earthquake as he eyed the carnage.
“Shut up… are you ok?” Jasper exploded, immediately regretting his outburst as he crossed his arms.
“Scratched but fine, and you?”
“I got a fucking headache and a new hatred for deer. Good thing I got my Coke.”
He ripped another sip; sweat dripped down his forehead. Omar stared at the Coke as if he were trying to disintegrate it with his eyes.
Ever since Omar was a boy, he only knew one quality about his Dad. To Jasper – every problem in life could be cured with a can of Coke.
Got a sore throat? Have a Coke
Scraped knee? Have a Coke.
Your collarbone sticking out with blood spluttering and ruining your brand-new, whiter-than-snow carpet? Have a fuckin’ Coke.
He could have been the company’s best spokesman – had he not been a salesperson for the Pepsi company. It was the great irony of his life. Jasper took another sip and clenched his jaw.
“Ahh fuck it. Everything’s got an expiration date.” He said ominously, standing on a rock as he surveyed the deer, or what was left of the deer, and the car, or what was left of the car.
Standing on the other side of acceptance, Omar paced around the car, his hand gripping his chest as he tried his best to avoid a full-blown panic attack. He took slow, deep breaths, inhaling through his nose and exhaling through his mouth, and his eyes darted around, searching for a focal point to ground him in the present moment. Unfortunately, the only thing that stuck out was the deer’s white eyeball that seemed to stare right through him, calling him a bastard. Because when you hit a deer on the highway, you are a bastard. And if you’re Omar Watson, who grew up with a Dad who was hardly home. You are a bastard.
He tried to engage his other senses, listening to the wind, feeling the warmth of the sun on his skin, and inhaling the earthy scent of the nearby grass, but nothing seemed to work. He panted over to the cylinder and leaned up against it, trying to escape the deer’s eye.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” Omar thought to himself, still focused on the eye. “My life wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.” He silently screamed inside his head. He had it all planned out.
After the wedding was called off, Omar called up a friend who promised him a job out in California, which started in less than a week and having no better options, Omar said, “Sure.”
California was said to be the land of opportunity. The land where dreams come true. The land that’s been so sung about, so written about, so special, it had to mean something, if not for sheer force alone. Omar wasn’t sure what, but he hoped it was true. He needed to jumpstart his life. He needed help. So thoughtlessly, he accepted the job, renting another dream without actually dreaming. Because dreaming is scary, and Omar is scared.
And yet here he was – carless, fiancée-less, and rudderless – confronting the sober reality that this wasn’t a dream at all, just another nightmare.
“Ahhhh” that hits the spot!” Jasper exclaimed as he crushed his can of Coke and looked at his son and his chest rising and falling.
“Am I all right? My fuckin’ life is ruined… again!” Omar snapped.
Jasper sighed and frowned.
“You ain’t got nothin’ to worry about- all your shit’s in the mail; we’ll just go to the gas station and figure it out.”
“We can’t figure this out!” Omar protested.
“Sure, you can. That’s what you do in life – you figure it out; everything is figureoutable” Jasper reassured him.
Omar shook his head, his frustration igniting like a wildfire, and kicked the ground. “This ain’t; we’re completely fucked! – Even a genie in a bottle can’t figure this out!”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m the bad guy for wanting to figure it out,” Jasper scoffed.
“You’re the bad guy for hitting the fuckin deer!” Omar cried.
“What’s that deer doing on the damn road?! Eating asphalt?!” Jasper exhaled deeply. “Can you help me grab my suitcase? I have something I need to show yah. Just my luck if that’s fucked too.”
Omar kicked the dirt, sending a small cloud into the sky. “Sure. Right after I have this fuckin panic attack.”
Breathing heavily, Omar surveyed the wreckage, his rage arresting his body as he tore through the crash site like a tornado. He picked up bits of glass, car parts, and wrappers and sent them flying, one huff at a time. He was so mad, so pissed off, that he forgot he was supposed to have a panic attack. His father’s charm worked again.
Hidden nearly fifteen yards from the crash site, a glint of light caught his eye – his father’s black suitcase, now coated in a layer of dust, was cracked open. As he stomped towards it, he noticed an envelope addressed to him in his father’s neat cursive handwriting. “To Omar,” it read. Omar held the letter up to the light, hoping it would reveal its secrets.
“My son, I had no idea how to tell you this, so I’m going to write it down, and I’m sorry for waiting, but you see I…”
A roar echoed from the other side of the wreckage. “Did you find my damn suitcase?”
Omar quickly concealed the letter. “Yeah, we’re good.”
“See any more Coke?”
He cast another glance at the suitcase; this time, an icy shiver crept up his spine. Everything in the past week had been unusual, especially the phone call he got a few days ago.
“I heard through the grapevine you’re moving across the country. I’m going with you.”
“I’m already here.”
Omar lowered the blinds to see his father sitting in his car, staring outside the apartment.
He snapped back into reality and saw Jasper squinting into the distance, shielding his eyes with one hand. “Would you look at that! This gas station has a restaurant! We’ll grab some food and figure out how to get back on the road.”
With an extra pep in his step, Jasper strode over to Omar, grabbed the suitcase, and urged,
“Come on, seeing all that deer meat made me hungry.”
Omar couldn’t help but feel nauseous at the thought and threw up.
Please, like, comment, share and tell me what you think. As some of you know, I’ve been working on a book. Well after some thought I essentially combined my two stories, and this is the teaser. The book is written, and now I’m going through the slog of editing. Please let me know if you liked it. If it held your attention. My goal is to get this signed and your feedback is invaluable to me. Seriously, all of you make writing a blessing. And if any of you happens to be an agent or a publishing house – let’s chat. Tony@tonysbologna.com