Don’t Stop

Posted: March 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

deserted road3

Since this is your first night and all, I’ll just ride along and keep ya company. I’ll help out if ya need it, but otherwise, I’m not even here. Just think of me as a ghost or somethin’. There ain’t a lot to this job, just cram them papers in the mailboxes or bag and chuck ‘em in driveways. Just a lot of driving is all. Oh yeah, you’ll log a lotta miles. We call this route the car killer. Oh, people scoff, sure, after all it’s a paper route, but it’s not like you’re a little kid on his bike throwing a few papers after school. This here’s a real job, and it ain’t for no kids. It pays well, but there’s good reason for it. You’re out here at night, all alone, in all kinds of weather. This ‘little paper route’, as they call it, bought me a shiny red Jeep and paid off my mortgage. Which reminds me, ya might wanna look into upgrading your vehicle to something with four wheel drive. This lil’ sports car you got is cute, and it’s prolly good on gas, but son, you gonna want a four-by when the roads git nasty. You’re gonna be out here before the snow plows most nights, and ain’t nobody around to help out if you get stuck. No cell service either, in most places. If you get stuck, you’re on your own.

You’ll do fine kid, if you just remember one thing: Don’t stop for nothing or no one, no matter what you see. Don’t pick up hitchhikers. Don’t offer rides, and for the love of god don’t stop to offer assistance. If you see someone broke down beside the road, keep moving. Do NOT stop! Ya hear me, son? Even if it’s a wreck. You keep drivin’. Get a safe distance away, find some cell service and call 911. That’s how you help. Don’t never, ever stop, no matter what you see.

I done this job for years, and I tell ya, I seen a lot of things. It’s a different world out here at night. People have no idea. While they’re asleep in their beds, things happen that they don’t see during the day. Animals prowl around, that’s a given. But there are other things, too. Things they don’t see in their happy lives during the day.

Things look different in the dark. Guess you noticed that. No color out here. One of the other drivers I worked with, she had a route over in Dexter, I think. Anyhoo, she dyed her hair all kinda crazy colors. Pink, purple, blue. Every few weeks she’d have a different color. She said it was because she lived in a black and white world, out there at night, and she craved color, like someone would crave a kind of food or something. Her brain wanted to see colors, on account of she slept all day and only saw the night. Ain’t that a thing? I guess it makes sense, though.

Anyways, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Different. Things look different in the dark. Especially when it’s foggy. Things look like shit they ain’t. A trash can looks like an animal. A tree stump looks like a person standing there. Now, I ain’t no scardey-cat. I seen combat in my time. I been around the block a few times. But this job, it plays games with your mind. Make you see things that ain’t what they seem. I tell ya, there’s one thing that’s always scared the shit outta me – seeing a person somewhere where a person ain’t got no business bein’. Like you’re on a deserted road in the middle of the night, miles from any house. If you see a person out in the middle of nowhere, you can be sure of one of two things: Either that person is in trouble, or they are trouble. You don’t wanna find out first hand. Folks have disappeared on these roads. Full grown men, some of them. Remember that guy awhile back? Vehicle left running on the side of the road. Wallet, cell phone still inside. But the guy was just gone.

I seen some shit out here though. One night, there was a wreck. I stopped, even though I knew I shouldn’t have. Car was twisted, like it’d hit a steel pole doing a hundred. Just wrapped around something. But there it was, in the middle of the road. Whatever it hit, just wasn’t there. I thought maybe an animal, like a bear or moose… but there was nothing, you understand? No blood, no fur, no nothing. I figured for sure I was gonna find a dead body, or someone near death. But the driver’s seat was empty. Nothing. No blood. Airbag wasn’t deployed. If the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt they woulda gone through the windshield. Windshield was intact. No way someone coulda wrecked a car like this and not been hurt. And yet they were gone.

In fact, it was right around here somewhere. Yeah, it was that road. The one you’re turning onto now. I always hated this one. Just one delivery, way down the end of the road. Pain in the ass. And way out in the middle of nothing. The wreck was right there up the road. See that red Jeep? Was right there.

Wait – what’re you doin’, son? Don’t stop! Didn’t you hear a word I told you? Don’t stop! Just drive on by.

Aw shit. Now you’ve done it. Sorry kid, you’re on your own. I ain’t stickin’ around for this one.

This is where I get out. Seeya.

* * *

Kevin looked at the stack of undelivered newspapers on his passenger seat and stifled a yawn. He was going to have to get used to this new schedule. He wondered how the other drivers did it. The old guy who had had the route before him had done it for years, up until he died. The pay was awesome, but he couldn’t imagine doing it long term. He figured the job would be extinct soon. The younger generation didn’t read paper newspapers, and the current customers were dying of old age. He gave it five years max.

His GPS announced that he needed to turn on the next street. He made the turn. Damn, it was dark out there. No streetlights. Just trees and fog.

A dark shape on the roadside caught his eye. As he neared the object, the twisted image of a wrecked vehicle became clear. A red Jeep, from the look of it.

“Holy shit!”

He screeched to a stop beside the wreck and jumped out, leaving the car idling.

* * *

“Looks like we need a new carrier for route 8020.”

“Shit! Again? You thought that last kid was going to work out. He seemed really stoked about the pay.”

“Maybe so, but he no-showed last night. And the route was only half finished the night before. We got a lot of pissed off customers. Can’t have that. We need someone reliable. That literally is the only requirement for this job. Just show up and do it from start to finish. Is that really so difficult?”

“What are you going to do until you find someone?”

“I’m the supervisor, so I’ll have to do it until we get another driver.”

“Damn it, Gary, are you serious? I really hate the thought of you out there all night while I’m stuck at home alone.”

“You aren’t alone. You have the kids. And the dog.”

“Still, though. I wish you didn’t have to.”

“It’s part of my job. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. It’s just temporary.”

 

Copyright © 2019 Mandy White

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