Fiction

Story: Almost

By: Niles Reddick

When he awoke, the first thing, after nature’s call, was to put the Starbuck’s k-cup in the Keurig, check email, scroll Facebook, sip coffee for thirty minutes before shaving, showering, and dressing for the commute into the city. Kevin was anal enough that if something threw him off his schedule, he felt anxious, got angry, and cursed. Sometimes, it was just a “damn” or “hell” and other times it was much worse, words that would have provoked his late grandmother to hit him in the head with a Bible and call a special prayer meeting with her choir friends, so the spirit would come on him and make him see the light.

Most days, he got frustrated and cursed, and on reflection, he always felt silly. It was difficult to stop, to change, and he rationalized it could be worse; he could still be a heavy smoker or drinker and vowing to change after just one more. When he awoke, he felt rested and had dreamed of his grandmother who looked younger, looked healthier than she had when she was alive, and he’d had a positive conversation, though he couldn’t recall what was said.

As he got ready for another day, the cuff came out in Thursday’s suit, number four. The suits were lined up in the closet and rotated each week to lessen the dry cleaning bill. “Damn it,” he said. This meant he’d have to visit the cleaners off cycle to get the pants hemmed again and probably have to pay for it again, too. Next, half of the cracked button on his freshly starched white shirt sleeve fell off, and he had another negative reaction, this one like when you see the steam coming from the kettle before the water is at full blown boil and whistling. When the shoe string broke, he yelled and cursed, but hadn’t fully boiled. As he drove out of the driveway, he was already seven minutes late leaving the house, and when he got to the stop sign one block away and he realized he’d left his glasses by the lamp, he screamed and cursed multiple times in the car, threw the gear into reverse, and sped backwards, weaving this way and that, and forcing neighbors walking their dog off the road into the wet grass and gawking.

Kevin stomped back inside, grabbed his glasses, and got back in the car, heading out. He waved at the neighbors pulling back out and they partially waved and stepped back onto the grass just to be safe.

A few miles from town, he thought he heard a boom that he didn’t recall being part of the 1970s song that was blaring on the radio, but when he topped the hill, heading down through the national forest, he saw several cars off the road with flashing hazard lights. The fog was thicker down in the bottom and when he got there, he saw the culprit. A heavy buck’s body was partly on the hood, and its antlers and head were inside the car. He stopped, turned his hazard lights on, and got out to see if he could help, maybe help push the car out of the way before there was another accident. No one could move the vehicle, though, because the driver was dead. An antler’s point stuck in his punctured neck, another point had punctured the airbag, and while the fellow behind the wheel had bled out, the buck was still alive. The massive buck moved his legs and tried to pull his head and rack back through the shattered glass, causing the onlookers to back off the road onto the weeds.

A lone siren could be heard in the distance, and as the buck regained his orientation and moved more, several people snapped phone pics. As the lights and sirens came down the hill, the buck slid off the hood, landed on his legs, and bolted into the forest’s fog.

Kevin had never seen anything like it and was shocked. One man told Kevin, “Is that your BMW?”

“Yes, why?”

“Usually I’m behind you. Today, I was behind him.”

“I was running a few minutes late.”

“You should be thankful you were. That was almost you.”

“Oh,” Kevin said. “I’m glad it wasn’t.” He looked over into the fog of the forest and thought he saw the image of his long planted grandmother, shook his head, and she disappeared and he only saw a bush. Kevin couldn’t offer any assistance to the EMTs or the highway patrol when they arrived, so he turned the BMW around and headed home. He had plenty of leave at work and decided to do things differently, first stopping by the cathedral and lighting a candle to remember his grandmother.

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Categories: Fiction

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