John awoke slowly while wiping the sleep from his eyes, as it seemed to him that he had just laid his head on the pillow a mere two hours before. A quick look at the dated alarm clock on the nightstand across the room confirmed the feeling of sleep in his eyes and the two hours of sleep had in fact been the case. As John sat on the edge of the hotel bed and the musty smell of the well-worn room started once again to over take him. The pain of why he was there came fleeting back into the front of his mind as the short relief sleep had brought him began to fade away.
This meager bit of sleep was the first he had in many days since he awoke that Sunday morning to a note he would soon live to regret with most every fiber within him. It started out seeming rather harmless, a simple issue in what was to be a run of the mill activity turned bad. Here unknowingly a seemingly unrelated chain of singular events where starting to pull themselves together in way that would reshape John’s world forever without him even realizing it at the time.
However, at this moment John’s attention was pulled back to the moment by his remembrance, he had a plane to catch and time was short as time always was for John. He hurried in his personal matters, dressed and quickly packed what belongings he had as he did not have many as the brewing storm he had walked into placed him there with nothing more then his briefcase and trusty items he stowed there for daily survival which didn’t amount to much.
As he left the room, he thought to himself, he would not miss the musty smell and made a mental note to avoid that hotel in the future, if there was even a future as fear which was something John hated more then anything started to creep back into his mind. He had faced this many times in life and knew this would not be last so he pushed it back into the dark recess of his mind to keep it in check allowing for the facts and reality of the moment to move forward instead of the dark little voice fear, which bought.
He walked quickly towards an empty reception desk, rang the bell to only receive no response and time the ever-fleeting commodity which takes us from cradle to grave was ticking by far too fast for John comfort. He tossed the keys onto the empty desk area and exited the building on the way to his rental car, there was dew in the morning air it was cold for Alabama standards he shook briefly as walked the short distance to the car. Upon entering, he quickly started the car, with the false hope there would be heat, as even after all these years logic was still being over ruled with hope.
With this John also hoped that the situations into which he was unwilling thrown into had hope, however unfortunately in this time logic was first to surface and it brought with it a different reality then he had wished it would. As he fought this sinking off, the car started and he prepared himself for dark and lonely drive to the airport.
At this hour of the morning, there were few if any cars on rural stretch of highway he would be traveling. This allowed John more time for open thought, however, this also allowed more time for the dark little voice in his head to whisper more. Had he made the right decisions, did he act fast enough and in the right way? What would others thinks, how would he be judged, the floodgates of doubt had been broken down by lack of sleeps, and the constant pounding of the situation.
All of a sudden, the voice was silenced by the realization of brake lights on the highway where they should not have been any forcing John to quickly snap back to reality while heavily breaking the car. At the same moment, he noticed light heads in the rearview mirror closing at a faster and faster pace. John braced himself for worst as the lights approached; however in the nick of time the lights came to a stop just out of John’s sight meaning the stopped car was resting only inches from his bumper. Again, John’s mind raced on this cold and lonely stretch of road where he was now stopped. His heart pounding from the near accident avoided by mere inches, the thought of his wife, the noise of the dark little voice.
The traffic was now at dead stop, John’s mind again raced to how would he make his flight now, things were going quickly from bad to worse as the minutes ticket away. First five minutes then ten, fifteen, twenty flew by before any traffic moved. As it did begin to move, John saw the flashing red lights ahead, there were many of them, must be bad he thought to himself. The car inched closer and closer the wreckage, which lay in ahead, it brought a cold feeling to John.
With this feeling, John remembered a story his wife had told him of an accident victim who was laying along a busy road and somewhere on that gray line of life and death. She could read the minds of the people and the disgust they had for her, making them late, imposing upon tham and so forth almost as if it had been her wish for this situation. However, there was one person, only one that said a little prayer for her as they passed and it this one person that gave her the strength to hold on to her life. John said a little prayer when he passed.
As traffic picked up again, he knew time was short and he had a lot of ground to make up if he was to catch his flight. Quickly accelerating away from the crash site, he tried to put things into order such the need to get gas for the rental along with a boarding pass and where the closest kiosk to do so. His mind spun all of these things, as his foot pushed harder and harder on the petal speeding the car towards Birmingham.
As the city lights came into focus, so did the dim lights of a gas station in the early morning, as John swung the car quickly in pulling it tight to the pumps and exiting quickly as time was short. As he did, he came face to face with an elderly gentleman, and at first glance John was taken back. The man face was disfigured almost as if something had eaten it away, it was a shocking moment. However, the man in cheerful voice especially for that hour of the morning asked John how he was this fine day. John’s replay was quick and sharp, “shitty” he said as the dark voice leaped forward, the man was visibly taken back my this response and his rapid retort was how could this be? You are alive, you’re visibly healthy and starting a new day, what could be so bad about that?
John ignored the retort, and started pumping gas after all he had plane to catch, issues to deal with and world filled with doubt. The old man moved away from John as it was clear there were no hand outs to be had here, however as John continued to pump gas into the car he watched the old man. Thoughts of the injured people on the highway came to his mind as well as the little prayer he said as he passed by. Then there was the knowing that he had a wife at home whom loved him dearly, friends and family as well as a dawn of new day.
The gas handle kicked out shutting itself off, indicating the tank was full; john looked with a little surprise at how much gas the car took and returned the filling nozzle to its holder. As he walked back around to the driver’s door, he once again saw the old man near the front of the filling station whistling happily away. John bypassed the car door and continued walking toward the front of the station approaching the disfigured old man. Upon seeing John approach, the man stopped whistling and looked puzzled, John reached into his pocket removing a five dollar bill from his wallet and with and outreached hand offered it to the man.
The puzzled look intensified as the homeless man also reached forward to accept the paper bill from John and as he turned away he said, you are right it is a good day…