Garn’s story prompt was:The tragedy of choice. Every choice you make leaves behind a road not taken.
I wanted to try something new with this story. I have tried to write a story with no dialogue at all, but ended up needing one line. So without further ado, here is the story that Garn inspired…
Roads are like people. Each one has characteristics that make them unique. Some roads are curvy and twisting; some are rough with speed bumps and stop signs. Then there are perfect stretches of highway that feel like you and the road are one, glass smooth with long flowing sweeping turns that make your heart ache.
Collin was like that perfect road and I knew it the moment I laid eyes on him; he was trouble. Collin was one of those men with swagger. He did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and no one ever questioned his right to be that way.
I had been flipping burgers at Jo’s diner for last five years. In that time I had seen men come and go and even dated a few of the more promising ones.
Collin had been coming to the diner for the last two years, every two weeks, like clock-work, Mondays at lunch. I watched him through the steam rising off the grill. The burgers that I made for that man could have graced the cover of Gourmet magazine! Not that I really thought that he would notice. Well, that is not entirely accurate. Down deep I hoped that he would notice, but then it’s kind of sad to think that a well crafted sandwich would get a man’s attention.
One Friday Jo asked if I could pull a double shift. I needed the money, so I took the extra shift.
Jo’s is right off the I-90 and has one of the only ATMs for miles. It was payday for the auto factory and the diner was the first stop for most of the guys on second-shift. I had never been in the diner on payday Friday; it was a mad-house. The line to the ATM snaked around the counter and out the door. Much like a lunchtime run to the State Revenue office, as one person left the ATM line they immediately got into the order here line.
I was flipping burgers and late night pancakes so furiously I didn’t even notice when Collin arrived. I heard the waitress ask in her usual monotone for the next order. Next thing I knew she was leaning through the window telling me that the customer said I knew what he wanted. I looked past her and the grease smoke into his eyes. I gave her a nod and kept working on autopilot.
My mind was going 90-to-nothing. I was making too much out of simple look. I needed a new job in a new place. With that decision made, I forced myself to avoid looking through the order window. At one in the morning my shift was over, and the diner closed its doors until five. I was wiped out and needed sleep.
I headed out the back to my truck and parked next to my old Chevy was a low slung bike. Collin was leaning on it and smoke hung in the air, curling in the breeze. As I approached the truck Collin said hey, and I mirrored a response.
Collin mounted the bike, flicked the end of the cig, and turned my way. As I opened the door the interior light framed Collin against the dark, glinting on his teeth.
“You wanna ride?”
What would you do, if you were me?