Tuesday, September 18, 2007

3000 Miles from Graceland, Part 5

Rod Logman was pissed. He'd been stuck in traffic for nearly two hours and it didn't look like things were about to get better.

Off to his right a minivan sat on the shoulder. It's doors were open and a woman sat inside, clutching what appeared to be a pair of baby-sized denim overalls and a pink teddy bear. Up in front of him was the wreckage from an accident between a city construction truck and a small sedan. No police were at the scene, although a cruiser had managed to make it to a stopped car in the opposing lane.

Everything added up to one, simple fact: he wasn't getting home any time soon.
"What is wrong with you people?" he cried out impotently, pounding on his steering wheel in frustration. "Why can't anybody figure out how to drive today?"

A white sports car pulled off on to the shoulder and began to sneak around the car accident. Several other cars followed and for a moment it looked like everyone was going to break free of the traffic jam. Then a Honda and a Ford both tried to squeeze in to the space at the same time. The Honda bounced off the larger car and careened in to the concrete barrier. The gap disappeared, taking with it any momentary hope.

Rod slumped forward, hitting his forehead against the steering wheel and accidentally honking the horn. The driver in front of him raised his hand, middle finger extended.

Before he could even think of coming up with an appropriate gesture, Rod's phone rang. He picked it up and looked at the caller ID. It was his wife.

"Yeah, Jenny," he said as soon as he'd flipped it open. "What is it?"

"Where are you, Rod?" she asked, sounding a little scared.

"I'm stuck in traffic. Why?"

"He's gone," she said, "They're all gone."

"Who's gone? What's wrong?"

"Kevin. He's gone. So's Jimmy. So's...everyone."

"What?" Rod felt anger begin to build up and realized he would have to suppress the urge to yell at Jenny and keep her from panicking. "Who's 'everyone?' Where did they go to?"

"Kevin and Jimmy and all the neighborhood kids," Jenny began to sob, "I don't know where they went. I don't know what happened."

"How could they all be gone?"

"I. Don't. Know. Rod." Jenny said, suddenly sounding angry.

Rod sighed. "Okay, calm down. Don't get mad at me."

"I'm not mad."

"You sure sound mad."

"You're an ass," Jenny replied. "Listen to me. Our son is missing. I don't know where he went, I don't know how he left. The police don’t seem to care. I need you to help me find him."

"Okay," Rod said. "I'm stuck in the worst traffic jam ever. I'll be home as soon as possible."
"Fine, then." The phone disconnected.

He flipped the phone closed and dumped it on the passenger seat. "Bitch," he announced to no one in particular. "Probably freaked out over nothing And now she's going to be pissed off at me when I get home. Great."

For several seconds he considered just not going home. That would show her. She seemed to think she could just order him around and get her way. Who wore the pants in the family, though? Who brought home the bacon. He did. That was who.

It would be great. He'd take a couple days off and go on a road trip. Maybe Vegas. He could gamble and drink and hang out at that hotel he'd heard about with the pool where all of the women went topless. He'd probably make a killing at the blackjack table, maybe take a shot at the no limit Hold 'Em games. Jenny never let him have any fun, so he'd finally get his chance.

The more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. It would be freedom, the kind he hadn't had since the kid was born. Really, since he'd gotten married.

He quickly realized that as much as he liked the idea, he could never do it. He had a kid and a job and responsibilities. Besides, what would everyone think of him if he just up and left? People weren't too sympathetic to deadbeat dads.

No, he decided he'd hang in for a while longer.

Assuming the traffic ever let up.

He smacked the steering wheel and swore at the universe.

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