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Passenger (standard:drama, 1430 words)
Author: EutychusAdded: Mar 28 2005Views/Reads: 1945/1176Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Someone carjacks the wrong person. This one grew out of an advantage I saw in being able to disengage the passenger side air bag in my truck. Stories sometimes come from the weirdest places.
 



Driving home was always the worst part. He would relive the brief
moments of joy, the times that temporarily overshadowed the 
hopelessness and deep sense of isolation, but he always knew that when 
he left, it would all come flooding back. He could go there a thousand 
times, trying to drive out the loneliness, but it would never be 
totally eliminated, though he did everything he could to push it aside. 


He pulled into a drive-through beverage store for something to wet the
whistle and distract the mind. As he pulled out of the drive he saw a 
few of the neighborhood toughs passing time in front of the local 
chapter of the Cannabis Society. True, it was closed and the 
proprietors would not stand for the loitering if they were open, but to 
see members of the local colors and the future members of the gang 
standing in front of an establishment that pandered to irresponsibility 
unsettled him more than a little bit. And to see a few of the tough guy 
wannabes jump into a car and tear out onto the main drag behind him did 
not encourage him either. The kids in the old Monte Carlo followed him 
around enough turns to that he convinced himself this was not paranoia, 
but if they remained four cars back, he would not get too concerned. An 
intersection later, his buffer zone disappeared, half turning right, 
half left. At the next red light, one kid was out of the car before it 
even came to a stop and in the passenger seat before he could pop the 
clutch and right turn out of his predicament. Why hadn't he spent the 
extra money and gotten air conditioning, which would have meant that 
his windows would have been up? 

“Drive, man,” the kid said and showed him the knife. 

“Where?” 

“Straight ahead. Now shut up.” 

After he had gotten up to speed and the Monte Carlo had disappeared from
his rear view, he gave the kid a sideways glance. All of fifteen years 
old, holding the knife way too tight to be confident of the weapon, and 
eyes darting about like he thought everyone in the world was watching 
him. It was probably a very small audience, and this audition would be 
critical to the young man's future status. 

When things seemed to relax after a few miles, he hazarded a question. 

“This some kind of initiation to test your manhood?” 

“Somethin' like that. I lead you around town, scare you some, and maybe
kill you for fun.” 

“Oh great, do me a favor,” he replied and took a quick sip out of the
brown paper bag. 

“Don't you be gettin' pulled over or there will be trouble,” the kid
said and pressed the knife blade against his cheek just below the right 
ear. 

He checked his mirror, then the blind spot  and slammed the wheel to the
left. The kid landed hard against the passenger door. 

“If I'm going to die, it will be as I choose, not you. And don't think
your little knife is going to intimidate me. That's just a few ounces 
of metal. I've got a truck that's eighteen hundred pounds, paid for and 
fully insured.” 

“No one's gonna smash their truck just to prove a point,” he said trying
to convince no one other than himself. 

“What about someone with nothing to lose?” he posited and coughed a long
cough that ended in a wheeze. “Look beneath the radio. I've got the 
passenger air bag shut off. You know they put that switch in there 
after some little kids died when the air bag deployed. My wife wouldn't 
let me run with the air bag turned on until my kid was a teenager. He'd 
be about your age now. Damn drunk driver killed him and my wife two 
years ago.” 

“Not my problem,” the kid said and braced a leg against the door. “And
it ain't no reason to kill yourself. But if you want, I can do it. That 


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