Scene from a Rearview Mirror
By Kevin S. Mahoney
I didn’t have to stop for him. My light was off. I was just a few miles from the shop. My fare sheet was full enough that I’d be taking a good haul home. I’d looked the back seat over when I stopped for gas and coffee, and it was free of both puke and dropped cell phones. The hand-off would have been seamless.
But there was enough light over him to see his shiner. And there was half a sleeve caught in the edge of his suitcase. His shocked face shone in the mercury vapor lamp, his stubble casting a shadow down his neck. I couldn’t tell if he was in trouble or merely running from it before I passed him by.
The light turned red at the corner. I stopped. He started towards me. He wasn’t running, but he wasn’t moving with any dignity either. The single suitcase pulled him off center, but he squared his shoulders and was trying so hard. The light changed.
I took my foot off the brake. I was about to signal left and get out of there, when his hand found the latch on the passenger’s side rear door. The door opened, but he didn’t pile in like the drunks normally do, he just ducked his head in and tried to find my eyes in the mirror.
“I have money,” he said. “I just need a ride across town.”
His voice cracked on the word ride. It wasn’t panic, not quite yet, but I could hear his breath whistling in his throat. His adrenaline must be pumping pretty hard to make him sound so young. I waved him into the backseat.
He slid his suitcase over behind me and sat down. I turned my signal off and pulled away from the intersection. I was going to give him a minute to think. Then, the back window exploded all over us.
“What the hell is this?!” I said. I was accelerating, straining to outdistance whoever had it in for him, my eyes switching to the rearview mirror, then back to the road ahead. There was an intersection in the distance; I made for it, even though I couldn’t see anyone following the car.
“She said it was mine. She just dropped it on me over dinner when I noticed she wasn’t drinking. When I told her I didn’t believe her, she hit me. Right in the face. After that, she came at me with the table lamp. I got her to calm down. I promised her we’d talk about it in the morning, like adults. But I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t. So when she finally started to snore, I got up as quietly as I could and packed what I could get to without making any noise.”
I didn’t know what to believe. I guess it didn’t matter. We were going to an airport, a train station, or maybe a friend’s house. But we were going to find an ATM first. There was no way I was paying to replace that window myself.
- This is my attempt at exposition as per the video here. I think Miss Harper's videos are great fun, and while I don't usually do the challenges, I thought I might try this one. The phrase I based the above on was, "I could have stopped at any time".
- This piece was written using my Pandora Neil Young Station and Guatemalan coffee.
- I used both the infodump (the passenger) and incluing (the driver) in this piece.
- Once again, comments are welcome. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my twitter handle is @TheSagest. Please forward all praise or gripes.