Saturday, January 17, 2009


He whisked his laptop from the counter and without even a sideways glance rushed out of the house. Lawrence brushed by his wife’s puckered lips and his son’s outstretched hand. Each of them only required a small slice of time, but as of late his presence came and went like a cold winter breeze.

The bills were piling, his aging home was in need of repair, and his boss routinely barked about prioritizing and productivity. In fact Mr. Sorely had flatly stated that if Larry failed to bring the Gockenour account back with him, he just as well save them both a difficult meeting. He assured Larry his final paycheck would be mailed to his home and if he had any specific questions to contact Human Resources.

He had spent half the night preparing for the presentation, rehearsing the opposition the board might present. He felt confident in his abilities to counter them all. At 1:30 am he noticed his wife had turned out the lamp that sat on the nightstand next to their bed. At 2:03 he suddenly remembered his promise to Lawrence Jr. All the little man had asked was to be tucked-in by daddy and if time allowed a bedtime story. Larry could feel his life slipping away an inch at a time, but once this multi-million dollar account closed the chaos would end. Plenty of time would remain to right all of the wrong turns.

He tapped the face of his GPS repeatedly as the irritating voice insisted he had traveled past his turn. Pulling the car to the shoulder he verified the destination a second time, while it displayed the headquarters for Gockenour Manufacturing it continued to give false directions. “Please make a U-turn to get back on course.” Frustrated, Larry muted the voice and continued to follow the visible route. As he turned on to U.S 30 headed south the voice returned. “Please make a U-turn when allowed—Please make a U-turn now.”

Larry was confounded that the audio had somehow re-enabled itself, and despite logic each time the message was repeated the computerized voice seemed more urgent. The screen flickered and went blank. A not-so gentle thump brought the display back, but instead of the destination being Gokenour his home address flashed on the screen.

Larry turned the unit off and reached for his phone. He would contact Mr. Gockenour’s secretary for directions. The quiet voice on the other ended confirmed he had reached the correct number, but before he had time to identify himself a million pieces of shattered glass pelted him.

His body churned uncontrollably inside the vehicle and nothing could block out the awful sound of crunching metal. Momentarily as the car rolled he could see other vehicles skidded to avoid him. As quickly as it had begun his car rolled one last time and teetered on the roof.

When he opened his eyes he was face to face with oncoming traffic and knew his car must still be on the highway. Larry tried to crawl to the broken window, but his legs were not strong enough. Instead of another failed attempt at escape he fumbled through the debris until he located his phone. With trembling fingers he entered the digits of his own cell number.

His wife had already left for work and was unreachable. In an effort to make her husband less accessible she had the voicemail removed from the home phone and Cheryl had vehemently refused to be tied to a cell phone.

Larry didn’t know the extent of his injuries or what the future held, but the choices were slim. There might be a possibility they would find his cell phone and his wife could retrieve the voicemail he was about to leave.

Each time the raising of his head required more effort. He peered out the window and watched as the onslaught of cars sped towards him and at the last second peeled to one side or the other.

“Cheryl, it’s me baby, I’ve got to be quick. God willing I’ll be able to apologize in person, but if something—something bad should happen, please make room in your heart for forgiveness. I honestly intended on making things up to you, but my time may have run out.”

Larry paused for a moment as the heaviness in his chest grew. Not more than a thousand feet away a large truck crested the horizon.

“In spite of himself, Mr. Sorely is right—I have lost the ability to prioritize. Not my accounts, but my life.”

Nervously he divided his attention between the on coming truck and his important message.

“Please tell Jr. that daddy was a good man, but that he simply screwed up. Make sure he understands there’s no point in forging on when you’re on the wrong path. There’s never any shame in making a U-turn.”

Smoke was pouring from each of the eighteen wheels of the truck, but the proceeding shadow continued to gobble up huge tracks of the road. With all of his might Larry tossed the phone as far as he could. There was nothing left to do but close his eyes tightly and brace for the shock.


Shirley said...

A wonderful story and a message we should all pay attention to more often. I'm about to make a U-turn myself... watch out!

Jo A. T.B. said...

Your story is an eyeopener Dan, to never take anything for granted. Getting off the path from that which is most important in life. Wise lessons indeed! I like the character name Mr. Sorely! :)

paisley said...

wow!!! you have really been at the top of your fiction game lately...

cordieb said...

I love this story. . . . We must all remember to make U-turns for that which are most important to us! I love the way you let the reader decide on the ending. . . I for one believe he was given another chance!

Jo Janoski said...

What an intense story with such a great message. Well done. BTW, I've sworn like a truck driver at that GPS lady on multiple occasions. She talks too much. Hahahaha.

Angel C. said...

Such a captivating story! Yes, just like the GPS, sometimes there's that voice that tells you which way to go in your life, whether we choose to listen or not.

Nan J said...

Oh *wow*. This made me cry.

Zaring said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.