Carlos A. Almaraz is a young, Hispanic writer who currently living in Orlando, Florida. In his spare time, he is always on his computer either editing other written work, working on his own writing, or playing some type of game. Follow him on Twitter @cadrianalmaraz.
My Daily Route
This time it was a child. A small little girl who couldn’t have been a day over thirteen. Her arm that was extended towards the road barely made a sixty-degree angle with her body. The blue shirt she was wearing was covered in sweat. My brakes screech as I pulled up ahead. I cranked my window down enough to put my head out.
“Where are you heading, little one?” I asked.
“Anywhere but here,” she replied.
“Well, what are you waiting for?”
She walked up to the passenger side door and stood there for a couple seconds before pulling on the door handle. The hinges creaked as she opened the door. I heard the old leather crack as she took her seat. She then closed the door behind her with strong intention.
“Off we go,” I said.
The first ten minutes was a quiet ride, and that isn’t a bad thing. She’s the third person I picked up this week, and they were all the same. Quiet. This long stretch of road is a very long and quiet road. I try to help people out along the way so that the ride is more bearable. Some accept and others refuse. You never know what happens to those who refuse. Several more minutes pass, and I glanced over toward my new passenger. She was staring out the window with a subtle scowl on her face.
“You okay, little one?” I asked.
She took in a sharp breath. Her eyes flicked left and right along with her head. After examining her surroundings, she sunk back into her seat. “Yeah,” she replied. “Everything is fine.”
“Ya know, if you’re going to be riding with me all the way to Pillow Creek, we should at least get to know each other,” I said.
“Pillow Creek? So that’s where we are going.”
“Is that a problem?”
“No, it isn’t.” Silence filled the truck again for several moments.
“Look, we still have about three hours until we get to Pillow Creek,” I said. “The radio hasn’t worked in this truck since twenty-one, so the only thing we have to entertain ourselves is conversation. Let’s start with names. My name is Reggie. What’s yours?”
She didn’t answer for several seconds. Her eyes were locked on the road. “Luna,” she replied. “My name is Luna.”
“Ah. That’s a beautiful name. So, Luna, how old are you?”
“Old enough to run away from home,” said Luna
A chuckle escaped from me. “That’s a good one,” I said. “How long have you been on the road for?”
“Long enough to be tired of walking.”
Another chuckle escaped me, but this one evolved into laughter. “Oh my. I didn’t realize you were on a secret mission.”
I turn towards Luna and notice that she is glowering at me. Then, our eyes locked. Slowly, I saw that look in her eye change. Her once colorless jet black eyes now had a subtle twinkle in them. She slowly relaxed and sunk back into her seat.
I began by saying, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend—”
Red and blue lights start to flash behind us before the words could come out. The high pitched screech made Luna jump.
“Damn it,” I said. “I wasn’t paying attention to my speed.”
I brought the truck to a stop and opened the middle compartment to grab my information. If I am lucky, Officer Murphy or Officer Miles is on patrol today. I definitely don’t need another ticket. I looked over at Luna and began to worry. She had cowered against the passenger side door and glued her face against the window. The officer came up to the driver’s side window. I didn’t recognize him. He must be new.
“License and registration, please,” said the officer.
I handed the officer my papers. “I am so sorry, officer,” I said. “I didn’t realize how fast I was going.”
The officer didn’t look at me. His eyes were fixed on Luna. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be right back,” replied the officer.
I looked back towards Luna. I could see her heart pounding out of her chest. “Don’t worry, this’ll be over quick,” I said.
The officer returns to the window after several minutes and holds out my papers in his left hand. I reach out to grab them from him out of habit. I didn’t notice the gun in his right hand until he shot at me. I flinched and put my hands up in self-defense. I waited for the impact and the pain to come, but all I felt was the wind. I opened my eyes to witness the officer’s right arm dissolving to dust. Before long, the officer was gone with the wind.
I look over towards Luna only to find the passenger-side door open and the seat empty. The police car that the officer drove sped past me. The lights flashing. I sat there for several moments waiting for the punchline. When it didn’t come, I reached over to close the passenger-side door. That was when I noticed the folded paper on the floor. I picked it up, unfolded it, and saw the picture of Luna along with a substantial amount of reward money. It was then that I realized I let a once in a lifetime opportunity slip away.