“Whoa, lady, how fast were you going?” He was incredulous as he helped her away from the wreck.
“I don’t know, not too fast. Maybe 80 miles an hour.” She was lost and confused, still in shock.
“Well your damned lucky, you are. I seen a lotta wrecks, and I’m real surprised you didn’t leave in a Hearse.” He shook his head again and went back to sweeping up broken glass. “And to still be able to drive it. Hot damn!” His rubbed his whiskered chin as he turned away.
“Well, it’s a good thing, because I’m going all the way to California.” She had a pleading look in her eyes.
“You got a long ways to go. You take it easy, y’hear?”
She got back in the car, started it, and sat for a moment, staring off. Shaking herself out of the reverie, she noticed a man in a suit on the side of the road, staring intently at her. She rubbed the gooseflesh on her arms and sped off.
About 30 minutes later, relaxed, she turned on the radio; not finding anything interesting, she turned it off just as quickly.
Up ahead, under an overpass, was that same man in the suit. Still staring intently at her. Only this time he was trying to wave her down.
“He must’ve gotten a ride and made it ahead of me,” she rationalized and averted her gaze, pretending not to see him.
Two days later, and no sight of the man. The drive was long and lonely and she needed to stop each night.
The sun was in her eyes now and she made it two more states over, and was mentally preparing herself to get to the larger, flatter states of the midwest. A long day, she flicked on the turn signal and made her way to the next exit.
At the bottom of the ramp was the same man in the suit. He seemed to be larger than before, still staring her down. He approached the car and she sped through the stop sign, almost getting into another accident, and whipped around and got back on the highway. Panic in her eyes, she began to cry and hit the steering wheel. “What do you want? Get away from me!”
Bleary eyed, she went to the next exit and found a country road, down a ways was a gas station. The sun had set and the windows were dark.
Getting out of the car, she went up to the door and pounded on it. “Please! I need help! There’s a man. A man is following me!”
The blinds split and immediately shut back down. “Go away. We’re closed.”
“You’ve got to help me!” She pounded on the window and yelled at the figure.
“Go away. Now, or I’ll come out with my shotgun. Run along, little lady!” She heard the footsteps fade.
Running back to her car, scanning for the man, she saw a phone booth. Running to it, she dug out a quarter and got the operator. “Hello, please connect me to 555-123-1234. Please. It’s urgent!”
The operator’s nasally voice gave a curt reply and the line clicked and buzzed and connected.
“Hi – who is this? Mom?” She pleaded now.
“Who is this? What number are you trying to reach, dear?” The old woman sounded at home. Maybe she had the wrong number after all.
“It’s me, Tracy! There’s this man! Where’s my mom? Who is this? Is this 123-1234?” Her voice pitched higher and was louder now, and she put her hand to her forehead.
“Tracy? I don’t know any Tracy, but this is the right number, alright. I just moved in a couple of days ago. The former occupant had a breakdown. Poor thing.”
“Wha – a breakdown – but that’s – she was fine – I just left – it’s only been a couple of days…” her voice trailed off and she looked around. “Is this a joke?”
“I’m sorry, dear, this is no joke. The poor woman’s daughter died in car crash just 2 days ago and I’m afraid she just fell apart. Poor, poor thing. Did you know her? Hello?”
She dropped the phone and looked around, sweat pouring down her face. She narrowed her eyes in sudden clarity, and made her way back to the car.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, she started the engine and looked into the rear-view mirror. The man in the suit’s face was there.
“Are you ready to go now?” he asked with a large grin?