Fiction: How It Was

July 12, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

By

Stephen Faulkner

 

 

I have often been asked how it was, how it came to be that I did what I did in the way that I did it. Often I will tell whoever has asked such a question that I have been driving for over thirty years and I have always been a very good and conscientious driver; that’s the answer, really – that’s how it was. Nary an accident or a ticket in all those driving years.

But then, when the asking took a serious turn, the person who has asked said that I have beggared the question, just put my own spin on it and never really answered the question at all. But, I said then, that is the only answer I have. That was how it was.

No, came the reply, that was how it was before all this happened. Before all this came down the pike, so to speak. It is this specific case we want to hear about, to hear from your voice how it was, not ancient history about how good a driver you contend yourself to have been all your life.

I was taken aback by the temerity of such a request. Also, I had never heard what had happened referred to as a case before, either. It is interesting to talk to people whose minds do not walk the same paths as your own. Sometimes such conversations are enlightening, sometimes confusing, but always interesting.

 

This case, I said, testing the sound of the phrase in my own voice. On the highway—what was it? – about a week ago, if I recall correctly.

Yes, said the person with the questions. Tell us in your own words what happened or, as you so quaintly put it, how it was.

How it was, I said to help compose my thoughts, ignoring the condescending tone in the asker’s asking. I was coming home from the market, driving down the Goodson Memorial Highway….

That would be Interstate 42, correct? the asker interrupted. I said that it was. Continue, said the one with the questions.

On my way home from the market, I continued. It was a bright, warm, clear day – just lovely, really. I believe it was a 55 mile per hour road and I was doing the speed limit. Anyway, a sporty little sedan came up behind me, roaring like the devil, and he flashed his high beams at me several times. I opened my window and stuck my arm out to wave him to go around me if he was in such a blazing hurry. After all, the road was rather empty that early in the afternoon; there was certainly ample room for him to pass me. But no, he just continued to tailgate me as if he were attached to my rear bumper, flashing his high beams and, when I had made it plain to him that I wasn’t going to either speed up or get out of his way – actually, I even slowed down a bit – he got really annoyed, I guess and he started to honk his horn in long, wailing blasts.

And how long did this display last? asked the asker.

 

I didn’t time it by my watch, I said. But I guess he kept it up for about three or four minutes before changing lanes and passing me. He even – what do you call it? – flipped me the bird as he went by! Such rude manners some people have as they go out into the world, as if everyone owes them something for their being alive, being there at that moment in time.

You sound rather passionate about this, said the asker. Did his behavior anger you?

Actually, I laughed as he went by. The middle finger surprised me more than anything. At the time I really thought nothing of it, intent as I was to get home. I had purchased a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream at the market and was in something of a rush to get it into my freezer. It was only later when I thought about it that I got into something of a snit about the fellow’s behavior.

This was after you got home?

No, I was still on the road at the time. I live about twenty or so miles from the market, so it wasn’t so short trip that I didn’t have time to muddle things through and change my thoughts about them.

Them, meaning…?

Meaning the thing that had just transpired, the fellow’s actions and all. I mean I wasn’t at fault in any way that he should behave so rudely to me. After all, I was only doing the speed limit.  He really had no right….

So, what did you do then?

Nothing, really. I mean I didn’t mean to do anything about it. It was just thoughts I was having, that’s all. But I tell you, I was pretty well miffed about the whole thing, really I was. And then I came up on him.

He was directly ahead of you?

Yes, traffic had slowed down considerably, you see, and he got caught up in it. So, what did I do? Yes, I see that question in your face as if it’s written there. I gave him a dose of his own medicine is what I did. Came up behind him real close, flashing my brights and tooting my horn with the old shave-and-a-hair-cut-two-bits bop-diddy-bop-bop to show I was just kidding around. Just getting it out of my system, you see.

All in good fun, eh?

I thought so. But then his hand came up and I saw it through his rear windshield: that one finger, the middle one, and he was waving it back and forth real slow like it was a flag of honor or something. Huh!

What? said the asker, sounding alarmed. What was that “huh” about?

That’s when it got ugly. Have you ever really gone into a fly-out, bash-all rage, sir? I did just then and I don’t know why. It’s just the way it was then with me at that time. Seeing red, like blood in my eyes. The traffic had picked up a bit by then and I was able to get around him on his right to pass him. But I didn’t. I evened my speed to his when I got abreast of him and rolled my window down to curse him to high heaven for being such a shit. His windows were closed so he couldn’t hear me. In the state I was in there was only one thing I could think of to do to get his attention and that was a hard turn of my steering wheel to the left, clipping his right front bumper a sharp blow, making him swerve into the lane to the left of him. That sure got his attention, I tell you.

 

The asker-person was made a tad speechless by this admission of mine. I guess he was expecting me to pussy-foot around it and not come right out and say what I had done. But I promised to tell how it was, and so I did.

You do realize that the man is in the hospital because of your – uh – rage, said the asker quietly.  In intensive care as we speak.

Nothing I’m proud of, I said. But it couldn’t have been helped.

Couldn’t have been helped?! asked the asker in a shout. There were a multitude of ways that this scenario could have played out without someone being put in the hospital!

You don’t seem to understand, I said when the man had calmed down enough to listen. You asked me how it was and I told you. And because of the state I was in – and I won’t lie to you and say this was the very first time – by my way of thinking there really wasn’t very much choice at all in the matter for me. You see?

And that’s really how it was. Honest.

 

 

 

 

stephen-faulkner

Stephen Faulkner

Stephen Faulkner is a native New Yorker, transplanted with his wife, Joyce, to Atlanta, Georgia. Steve is now semi-retired from his most recent  job and is back to his true first love – writing. He has recently had the good fortune to get stories published in such publications as Aphelion Webzine, Hellfire Crossroads, The Satirist, Liquid Imagination, Dreams Eternal, Temptations Magazine, The Erotic Review, Sanitarium Magazine, Impendulum Magazine and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He and Joyce have four cats and a busy life working, volunteering at different non-profit organizations and going to the theater as often as they can find the time.

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