Thursday, December 11, 2008

Plan B

He stood in the darkness staring at the car as the frosty wind raced off the ocean and over his skin. Sand blew around his feet as the strap of his computer bag cut into his shoulder.
The Dodge sat in the middle of the little, four lane highway with the hood propped open and liquid slowly dripping out from the under carriage. Hazard lights blinking, the vehicle was passed on the left and right by functioning brethren.
“Piece of crap,” he mumbled as he pushed his hands deeper into the pockets of his coat. Thank God he brought it with him. This was the perfect way to top off his amazing fourteen-hour day at work. Perfect.
He glanced at his phone again. He’d been waiting in the cold for over an hour and the tow truck was due at any minute. The only thing he could think about was getting home and getting into a nice, hot shower.
A large truck pulled up a few blocks away and parked. That had to be it.
He waved, moving into the light. “Over here, Dude. Hel-lo!” Hopping, he waved and tried to get the drivers attention. “God damn….” He pulled out his cell and waved it over his head. The iPhone’s illuminated face might act like a beacon. He felt it vibrate in his hand as the small bells began to chime.
“Hello, Mr Johnson? Our driver is there and he’s not seeing where you are.”
“I’m right across the street. I’ve been waving, but he doesn’t see me I guess.” He frowned and waved again.
“Oh, ok. Well, I’ll let him know. So, you’re across the street?”
“Yes, right ahead of him.
“I’ll let him know. Thank you, Mr. Johnson.”
He waited and a moment later the truck started moving forward and across the street toward him. He waved again, motioned to the car’s resting place, and then started moving towards it. The bag on his shoulder slide and he caught it awkwardly as he made his way over the small barrier and through the sandy bar along side the roadway.

Minutes later, he gave a final look back at his car before climbing into the tow truck. He glanced back through the window and muttered a curse as he fastened his seatbelt.
The tow driver hoisted himself up into the cab. He was a round man who looked like he was shooting for “physically unfit” as a look. His round belly was accentuated by his tight shirt tucked into his pants. His dark skin had a sheen of sweat and his hands were covered with grease and grime.
“Here we go, huh?” He smiled and the tow truck roared to life as his door slammed shut. “Where are we going again?”
“Clement street?”
“Right….right….that place. I know where that is. By 24th. I looked on the way here.” He glanced back and pulled the truck and it’s flatbed deadweight into traffic. “We’ll get you there and home, huh Mr. Johnson?”
“Sounds great.” He stared out the window with tired eyes and wondered if the driver was planning on slowing down at all before hitting the curve. He obviously had no intention of wasting time being safe. He took the hill and the corner at 45 miles per hour.
“Tough day, huh?”
“Yeah. Drag of a day.”
“I bet.” The tow driver laughed.
Malcolm liked his slight, Spanish accent. It was comforting and made up for the discomfort he felt from the man’s driving. “Yeah. I worked a fourteen-hour day and them this crap happens on the way home. All I wanted to do is get home and them….wham.”
“Wham.” The man laughed again. “Like my night. I had to drive down to San Jose, pick a woman up, and take her to Hayward.” He laughed. “And after I take you to Clement, I have to drive BACK down to San Jose!” He shook his hand and giggled slightly.
Malcolm mustered a smile. “Wham.” He was starting to warm up now – the chill in his bones giving way to the heat of the tow truck and fear from the man’s driving. He half hopped the car would be flung away, smash into the ground and burst into flames. Problem solved.
“Wasn’t part of your plan, huh? Never is part of the plan, right?” The man looked over to Malcolm and grinned a wide grin. “You never see it coming.”
“Nope, not part of the plan at all.”
Plan APlan A didn’t work.” The man shifted and half stopped at a stop sign before racing on.
Malcolm glanced back at his car rocking on the bed of the tow truck, then faced forward again.
“What you need,” the man said as he looked to Malcolm with a wide smile, “is a Plan B.” He chuckled and faced forward in his seat. “Plan B always works.” The laughter built in the man’s belly and his wide smile was infectious.
Malcolm smiled and chuckled. “Plan B.” He thought about it for a minute – the oily smell of the truck’s cab filling his nostrils. He broke into laughter, but wasn’t sure why.
Plan B ALWAYS works!” The tow driver patted the steering wheel.
The two men laughed hearty laughs.
Malcolm was surprised. He didn’t think he’d be laughing tonight. Of course, he didn’t know that the answer to his problems…was a Plan B.

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