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The China Service (standard:horror, 4668 words)
Author: CD Sutton IIAdded: Apr 03 2009Views/Reads: 1789/1100Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
An anonymous driver takes a wrong turn...and learns a harsh lesson about personal responsibility.

The China Service by CD Sutton II 

It was just a road, not much different from the others he had seen that
day, except there were no signs, mailboxes, or any other indicator of 
which way he should turn. He was at a “T” and could no longer travel 
forward, only left or right. To the right was old cracked pavement, 
sunbaked and streaked with dirt and dried mud. That side carved a path 
through a large thicket of trees, and gently curved to the left three 
hundred yards away. There was no indication that people lived anywhere 
near the area, but the road looked better maintained as it curled off. 

To the left was only dirt, equally sunbaked, but this way stopped at an
un-painted wooden gate, a familiar rural sight. The timber was rotted, 
splintered, and pocked with dozens of holes from carpenter bees. As he 
looked, a rather large example of that insect backed out and made its 
slow way into the humid air. 

“He” by the way, was a twenty-four-year-old delivery driver of medium
build and Caucasian complexion. He was a bit frustrated because the 
package in the rear of his panel van constituted his last delivery of 
the day. There were cold beers in his refrigerator, and he was slated 
to take his wife to the newest hotspot nightclub in town, where they 
had reserved a table for six-thirty. 

Glancing at his watch, the word 'shit' crossed his lips as he pondered
options; turn right, turn left, call in, go back...shit. What to do? 
The only thing he was certain of was that no decision would make him 
late. Even now, he was sure she was standing under a hot shower, her 
best dress lying on the bed next to a satin and lace undergarment, the 
type he loved to take slowly off her body, revealing the curves and 
soft skin underneath...the fantasy was exciting him, and he was wasting 
time. He turned the wheel hard left and punched the gas, fishtailing 
and kicking up a plume of dust. 

Stopping in front of the gate, he hopped out and looked for the latch,
which was not evident. The post on the left seemed to be the hinge 
side, so he looked on the right side. After a moment, he spotted a loop 
of old rope around the picket. He removed it and the gate loosened a 
little, allowing the barrier to swing inward. Pushing forward, he 
walked the fencing into the yard, securing it to another post. Raising 
his head, he could see into the yard. 

The dirt continued for about one hundred and fifty yards, and ended in a
wide cul-de-sac which (if paved) could have been a very nice driveway. 
But a very nice driveway would have been wasted on the structures that 
lay there. They seemed to be a loose cluster of outbuildings which at 
one time could have been a shed, a shack, and a one room cabin. The 
vertical wood planks were just as weathered at the gate, and more 
carpenter bees were buzzing, busy boring holes on top of holes, 
weakening the wood to the point where the buildings would one day 
collapse. Some of the siding had already fallen, and the boards lay 
rotting in the dust. The exposed studs showed the work of termites, and 
a dusty gloom lay behind them. 

To the left, there was another building, a sort of shed that was low and
long, with a sagging roof and equally sagging gutters. The side closest 
to the road was decorated with a faded advertisement for pork and beef 
products; “McClure's Fine Meats,” was the logo, barely legible against 
the bleached wood. The doors on the front were straining to be free of 
their hinges, and the smell of decay and neglect was perceptible in the 
summer air. The gap in these doors was big enough to see through, and 
the driver could see the faint glint of metal in the dim light. 
Probably tools, he thought, and resumed looking for someone to talk 

“Hel-lo!” he called out; not loud, but upon receiving no response, he
made it louder: “Hel-LO!!!” Still nothing. Shit, he thought again. 
Check around back, gotta be someone here. Starting off in that 
direction, he decided to spend two more minutes on this, no matter what 
the dispatcher might say. That guy's an asshole anyway...and fuck the 
'deliver everything in the truck or don't come back tomorrow' policy. 
They got no idea how pissed Chrissy'll be if we miss this reservation. 
It's not like I don't bust my ass for this fuckin' company...and what 
happened to that new GPS Charlie promised me? Shit. If I had THAT, I 
wouldn't be HERE, would I, Charlie? He made his way around the far 

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