The following story is by author Judith Shaw. If you like her work you can find more of it at her blog Stories by Judith.
He downshifted with a snarl, and the transmission screamed in protest. The revs went through the roof. The trucker reluctantly eased his foot off the gas and sat at the traffic light, fuming. Where could that little son of a bitch be? The light turned green and he inched through the heavy traffic of downtown Manhattan.
An eighteen-wheeler in NYC is not inconspicuous. He wasn’t hiding, exactly, but he wanted to find the guy and finish before getting picked up by the cops. His best bet was to stay cool, follow the rules and not stand out in the crowd.
His heart started to pound and sweat poured down his face. He wiped it off with a flower-printed handkerchief that looked a whole lot more cheerful than he felt. Control! He needed control. The guy lived down here, right off Christopher. He had to keep his eyes open and stay calm. He wanted to explode.
Another light. Christmas shoppers hurrying back to work after the lunch break. He desperately wanted to get out and join them, maybe buy a little something for his wife and kid. Maybe grab a burger at the diner on the corner. Maybe do what he’d been wanting to do for what felt like years: Go into the men’s room and have a good long whiz.
Not going to happen. Not today. Maybe never again.
He wiped his face and then his hands with the soggy rag. He’d been using it so long it looked rotten. The S.O.B. had laid a curse on him: To drive his monster truck until the city fell into New York harbor. No burgers. No men’s rooms. No wife, no kid. Not even a dog. Just this huge rotten motherfucker of a truck, driving on and on forever, world without end.
How could he have known who was sitting at that poker table? How could he have known that the mousey-looking dweeb with the smudgy little mustache had the power to ruin his life? All he’d wanted was a little folding money, enough to buy a burger and a beer and maybe a few presents for Christmas. Was that too much to ask?
New York looked beautiful in December, he thought. All decorated with lights and pine branches and stars on top of the traffic lights. A horn blasted him from behind and he looked up. Green light. Time to go.
Something moving caught his eye, and he whipped around, nearly taking out a streetlight. Was it him? Was it the dweeb? No such luck. Just another colorless drone, lugging his takeaway lunch and coffee back to some dreary office, to a dreary desk and a dreary job.
What he’d give for a job like that. Instead, he drove through the overcrowded streets of downtown New York, feeling more and more murderous with every passing block. Looking for that special someone. Looking for someone to kill.
A group of school kids on lunch break bounded across 10th Street. He gunned the engine and went after them. He could always say the brakes failed. They were too fast for him and ran away.
An old lady hobbled past quickly, trying to cross before the light turned green. He gave her a blast of his horn. She gave him the finger.
What on earth was the world coming to? And what was he thinking? He’d never catch the dweeb that way. Focus, boy, focus! He has to be around here somewhere.
The 18-wheeler idled at the light, throwing out huge plumes of dirty exhaust. When would the damn thing change? When would he get out of this truck? When would the curse lose power? He closed his eyes and rested his head on the steering wheel.
When he opened his eyes, a young policeman with a tiny mustache stood on the running board writing out a ticket. “Get your emissions checked, buddy,” he said. The driver ground his teeth. He opened the door, but the seat belt stuck and wouldn’t let him go. The little dweeb stepped down and tipped his hat. He pointed his finger, pretended to shoot and said “Bang! You’re dead!”
And he was.