The Studio Presents ~ Damned Decent
© Thaddeus Howze 2014, All Rights Reserved
I have a strong sense of fair play and social justice.
It means I like to help people. Occasionally, it means I sometimes do things people don’t agree with. Like stopping to help a stranger on the side of the road.
It was nearly midnight, on my way home from my night gig, I see an balding old man trying to lug a tire out of the trunk of his car. On any other day, I’d be doing seventy-plus, and wouldn’t even see him. I was bone-tired and driving in the slow lane on the far right, struggling to stay awake.
I saw the poor bastard, struggling to get the tire out of his car and I knew I had to help.
I was tired as hell but I wasn’t old yet.
Pulled up in front and backed up to where he was parked. The side of the road has become incredibly dangerous where I live so I wanted to get done as quickly as I could before some texting idiot killed us both. I tossed a flare behind the old man’s car and one behind mine. They blazed bright in the darkness.
“Hello sir, you look like you could use a hand.”
He looked to be about sixty-five or seventy, a bit bent and his hands were trembling from his recent exertions. “I think you’re right. Funny, I just let my triple A lapse last month. Couldn’t afford it.”
“No worry, Old-Timer, I got you. What’s your name?”
“Scratch,” he replied, “Nickolas J.”
“David.” As I took the tire and tire iron from him, my skin began to crawl, the hair on the back of my neck began to tingle. His breath was hot and smelled of polish sausages.
I suddenly had the realization, I was engaged in a dangerous activity, something I could conceivably die from.
I chuckled, shook my head, ignored that Final-Destination-moment feeling and attacked the lug nuts on the car.
Man, I was out of shape. It had been a while since I had done this, in the dark, on the side of the road, at midnight. Scratched my knuckles on the ground, banged my knee on the tire iron. Felt myself getting hot from embarrassment.
“Where ya from, Old Timer?”
“Nevada. Las Vegas. I came up to see one of my son’s.” Hunched in his coat, I could barely see his face in the darkness. But I could feel his stare. Got the last nut on.
“You’re good, sir.”
“Why’d you have to be so damn decent?” he whispered right behind me in my ear.
“Say again?” I jumped.
“Thank’s you’re so damned decent.” He smiled and extended his hand.
I backed away, I had that electric feeling again, I saluted and turned away. I was sure I heard him say, “It’s early I could still catch something interesting.” I calmly closed my door. I peeled out.
I didn’t see him or the car.
I hit ninety all the way home. Cops be damned.
Thaddeus is a California-based author whose non-fiction work has appeared in magazines, including Black Enterprise, the Good Men Project, the Examiner.com and online at Astronaut.com.
His fiction writing has appeared in blogs such as the Magill Review, ScifiIdeas.com and he maintains a prodigious amount of non-fiction work at his own blog, A Matter of Scale. He answers questions on the Scifi.Stackexchange.com and Quora.com.