Mike adjusted the rear-view mirror that insisted in shining the glaring sun into his eyes. There was nobody on the road anyways, in either direction. Nothing behind him but the setting sun. He had left it all behind.
Peering down at the face of his cell phone, the last bar flickered on and off, before finally deciding to rest at a “no signal icon.” He threw it to the passenger seat, bouncing off the cushion with a dull thud. He looked up just in time to see another car, parked, still half on the road. He broke hard, and the wheel went stiff. He had slowed down, but not enough. The long hood of his car clipped the back right bumper of the big SUV, pushing it to the side, and sending his into a spin, finally stopping cockeyed, looking back at the sun that was starting to greet the horizon.
Someone came running from the distance. Sitting in the seat, shaken up, but otherwise unharmed, Mike realigned himself with reality. The front corner of the old Continental was smashed up. Stepping out revealed that the wheel in the same position was turned completely inward. The man finally caught up.
“Hey, buddy fack you, watch where the fack you’re going.” He screamed in a heavy New-Yorker accent, breathing heavily. He was wearing a tight button up shirt with blue and white stripes, and black slacks that were too big. His pits had dark sweat stains.
“I’m sorry… I wasn’t paying attention,” Mike replied. he wiped his face with his hand, and looked up and down the road. A few scraps of fiberglass and plastic from both headlamps was strewn across the ground. Waves of heat still danced upwards from the asphalt.
“You’re lucky I wasn’t in there, you ayse. But now we’re both in the shit. I just ran out’a gas here, so I went for a walk, maybe to get some more, and now you come wrecking your scash against mine. Who do you think you is?”
“My name’s Mike. And you can show some compassion, I almost just got killed.”
“I didn’t ask your name Buddy. Well, there ain’t nothin’ we can do here. I’m Vinny.”
He presented his sweaty palm, and Mike took it hesitantly. The man, Vinny, grabbed tight and gave Mike hat felt like the tightest handshake of his life. After releasing the most grasp, Vinny looked him up and down.
“So let me guess, no cell service either?”
“No, in fact, I watched it fade out as I saw your car sitting there in the middle of the road. It was hanging on to one bar, but I doubt that would do much.”
“Walk with me, then.” Mike took the invitation hoping it wasn’t meant in the threatening way. The day light was just starting to fade, but Vinny seemed intent in walking along the road until they found, well, whatever.
Vinny started explaining, his hands waving around. Mike followed them with is eyes, instead of allowing himself to look in the distance at the long road in front of him. “I’m heading out west here, my son-in-law got a job down in Los Angeles, with some startup. My wife flew out here last week, meanwhiles I had some business in Texas, so I’m driving the rest of the way. It’s been gorgeous, if not long. Who would’a known youse got no gas stations out here, dough?”
Mike made a hum sound, lips purced.
“Wadda bout you?” Vinny looked him in the eyes, as if giving him permission to speak.
“I”m just going. Quit my job, I hated it, just wanted to be somewhere else. Sorry about your car.”
“Nah, it’s a rental. I got the insurance anyways. Your car musta been some collector item though, no?”
“It was my grandmothers. I got it after she died a few years back. I really don’t care for it.”
“Well then.” He stopped. The two continued walking. The sun dipped down into the horizon. The air slowly became cool as the sandy ground relinquished its heat. Mike looked over at Vinny, whom he caught looking back at him. Vinny quickly looked away.
Vinny finally spoke up. “So, what kinda music you like?”
“Just whatever’s on the radio. 90’s rock, you know.”
The light pats of shoes on concrete continued as the light was sucked from the environment. Mike could feel the edge of the asphalt blend into the rocks and sand at the edge of the road. The stars were just bright enough in the sky to allow them to see the feet trotting against the ground. The rumbling of an engine crept up on them.
A bright pair of headlights glared at them from behind, showing from a long distance against the flat, impeccably straight road. Vinny raised his phone in the air to shine the screen back at the truck.
It approached them quickly, but skidded to a stop a few yards down. They continued up to the door, which the driver had swung open. A skinny man with a wide, bushy mustache leaned out of the cab. “There was a wreck down the road, that wouldn’t happen to be you fellas?”
Vinny and Mike looked at each other. “No,” they said in tandem.