No Take Back

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“No, that one doesn’t count!” he shouted into the closed confines of the truck cab. “It’s the same one, it just took the off-ramp.”

Jay looked at Adam and shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. We have no possible way of knowing. All I know is I called it and it’s mine.”

“That’s such complete and utter bullshit,” Adam responded in a huff. “As if we’d see two that were the same color on the same stretch of road within one minute of each other.”

“I don’t make the rules,” Jay answered, raising his hands as if in surrender. “I just follow them.”

Adam moved his eyes back to the road as he searched for their destination. The GPS said seven more minutes. “Fine. Fine. I’ll let you have that one. I’m up on you anyway.”

“We’ve still got all day, buddy,” Jay taunted.

“Nah. One more stop. There’s no way you’ll get three more.”

“Stranger things have happened,” Jay said with a smile.

The tension in the cab was rising. It was a silly thing to get violent over, but there wasn’t much else to do between stops. Something had to break the tedium of the ride, and this worked.

The GPS was counting down the estimated time of arrival, and they were both joking and singing along with the radio, but the fevered glancing of their eyes was unmistakable. No matter how preoccupied they seemed, they were focused.

The road narrowed as it started climbing the back side of Mill Mountain. The road twisted and turned as it followed the path of least resistance upwards. Adam pulled up behind a team of cyclists, and gave them a wide berth as they continued their Herculean ascent.

“How much longer?” Jay asked

“Two more minutes,” Adam replied. “Taking a right in a quarter-mile, and then looking for the street.”

The words had just escaped his lips as a glimmer of man-made sunshine peeked through the trees. Adam’s eyes fixated on the vibrant burst of color and he raised his hand from the steering wheel. His lips began to part as an excited shout raised from deep within.

At the same moment, Jay caught a glimpse of the canary yellow trophy. It would bring him one closer to catching up with Adam. He raised his fist instinctively, his mouth reacting out of well-rehearsed instinct.

His fist collided with Adam’s arm, causing Adam’s grip on the wheel to slip. The truck, free of its dominant master, bucked wildly to the side of the road. It smashed with grinding ferocity against the side of Mill Mountain. Being a large truck, its forward momentum was only slightly stalled by the mountain. The wheels continued spinning as the truck bounced like a rubber ball from one side of the street to the other.

This time, there was no mountain to stop the truck. The thin metal railing that guarded the side of the mountain bent and folded easily beneath the mass of the truck. For a moment, it seemed that the truck was suspended in mid-air. Then, without hesitation, it plummeted fifty feet straight down the side of the cliff.

*

She sat against her Canary Yellow Volkswagen Beetle. She fought to control the shaking, but the image kept replaying in her mind. She had already vomited twice, and as she sat talking to the officer, she felt the need to throw up once again. She blinked her eyes hard, trying to focus and answer his questions.

“It was like they lost control. One minute, they were just there in their lane. The next thing I know, the truck was moving like crazy. It hit the mountain, and bounced right over the side. Maybe they had a tire go flat. I don’t know, officer. It was so sudden. I wish I could be more help.”

“You’ve been plenty helpful, ma’am, thank you for calling this in.”

The officer folded up his pad of paper and walked back to the scene. A paramedic approached her with a blanket.

“Here you go, miss. Please, come this way so that we can treat you for shock.”

She hadn’t heard it. No one could have heard it through the sound of twisting metal and breaking glass. The simultaneous cry of “Punch Buggy Yellow No Take Back” had been lost amid the carnage. No one would know, looking at the bodies, that Adam had won.

 

 

 

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