The Short Drive Home
Short Story Day 155 of 365
When he started the car at the mall, Tony was 10 minutes from home, 10 minutes from popping a top on a cool one, 10 minutes from snuggling with his wife and watching a movie. He would be in for the night even though it was only seven on a Saturday, just another sign that he was getting old.
The rap on his window came just as he was ready to pull away.
A man asked Tony if he could give him a lift home, promising it wasn’t far. The man carried three store bags and was clean cut. Nothing about the man indicated he was telling a lie or ready to do anything detrimental to Tony’s health.
“Hop in if you’re sure it’s not far.”
“Ten minutes, tops. Promise,” the man said.
The man, Albert, gave Tony explicit directions out of the parking lot and on to several side roads, concluding most sentences with ‘up here just a bit.”
Tony was headed in the exact opposite direction of his home, thus making his 10-minute journey at least double that.
Throughout the drive, Tony learned that Albert was down on his luck, had a car repossessed and the bank was threatening to repossess his mobile home as well. Unemployed but actively searching. Recently divorced and two kids not speaking to him. Just finished up two years of sobriety last week.
The story was interesting but Tony wanted to be home a while ago.
If Tony asked, “How much further?” once, he asked it two dozen times.
Tony kept checking the clock and it was already 25 minutes longer than the initial 10 minutes Albert had promised.
Dark now, it would have been a sin to drop Albert off in the boonies, which is where they were. Good thing Tony had GPS on his phone because he was already lost. Were it not for 10 Minute Albert, he would be totally on his own and lost, but he also wouldn’t be lost either.
With each passing minute, Tony was becoming more irritated with Albert and his idea of what 10 minutes looked like. Tony now knew he was being used, so it was just a matter of saving face.
Tony checked the rearview mirror, slowed down, did a 180, and stopped the car.
“Get out,” Tony said.
“What are you doing? It’s just a bit more up the road.”
“Good then. It won’t be much of a walk. Get out.”
“We’ve been driving for 45 minutes so I’m pretty sure you lied to me about how close it was,” said Tony. “No, you lied. Get out.”
Albert grabbed his packages, and slammed the car door as he got out. He began shouting obscenities about Tony’s manhood, family, and ancestry all while Tony peeled away.
Whether it was just up the road a bit or not, Tony would never know. Tony’s only regret was that he hadn’t done it thirty minutes sooner.
“Hey,” Tony said, looking in the rearview mirror at Albert lighting a cigarette. “He didn’t even thank me for getting him this far. The ingrate.”