fiction.04.a

Jack is winding his way through the wooded neighborhood. Smiling. Today had been a really good day. Charlie, his favorite retriever mixed pup, had been extra playful. Volunteering on Tuesdays at the animal shelter gave Jack such joy. It was a different joy, no better or worse than what he felt when, on Thursdays, he read books to the elderly at the retirement home.  Additionally, having forgotten his cell at home, he felt a little freer today. The bike he rides had been his grandfather’s, well maintained it looks like a brand-new recently released retro version. Things that used to be popular always have their way of coming back around. Jack enjoys the sentiment as well as the trendiness.

~

Michael is on his way home from another long day at the office. He is looking forward to his date tonight. Something different about Jennifer, which explains why she has even made to the third date. Maybe if things went well tonight, he would invite her out to the lake house this weekend.

~

Jack swings into a gas station to get a bottle of water. The attendant offers, “you want Lotto?” – points to the jackpot and continues – “highest ever!”

“How much?” Jack had never bought a lottery ticket before but this seemed like a good time.

“$2”

“Sure.”

“Good luck.” The attendant handed him the ticket with a smile.

On his way out, Jack holds the door for a man poorly parked at pump three.

~

Michael races past the young man without a thank you and heads straight for the counter. “I’ll take 33 quick-picks with a power-play”

“33?”

“Yep.”

“$99” but Michael already has the $100 out.

The ticket takes a minute to print making it all the more obvious that he is intentionally leaving the one-dollar-bill change on the counter.

“Thanks.” Michael says as the door closes behind him.

He pulls out of the station into road only to wait at a traffic light.

~

After rehydrating himself and checking his tire pressure, Jack is just now getting back on his bike. Though he doesn’t actually think that he’ll win, thoughts of ways to spend the money have filled his mind. Put some away first, then pay off all his debts, and maybe take his friends on a trip. He sees the Audi stopped at one side of the intersection and leaves out the other side.  With any luck, Jack and his bike will make the light. There isn’t but one car coming and it’s a ways off yet. Safely pulling into bike lane Jack notices the coming car has caught up faster than he anticipated.  He crosses the intersection as the lights changes yellow and is sure the oncoming car will have to stop.

~

Michael watches the flashing hand and countdown 3, 2, 1

A bike flies through – his light turns green but another car soars by – clips the cyclist and speeds off. There is no one else in sight. He goes through the intersection but turns left toward the downed bike instead of straight towards home, toward his date.

He stops in the bike lane behind the young man. The back end of the bike mangled

“Are you okay?”

No response, he dials 9-1-1. Briefly tells them what he saw.  Begins CPR.

A police car and ambulance arrive from different directions.  A paramedic steps in and tells Michael that they’ll take it from here. “Is he going to be okay?”

Instead of an answer he has an officer asks him more questions. He relays the same things he had on the phone earlier.

He overhears the paramedic tell the EMT that there is no emergency contact or even phone. Michael decides to follow them to the hospital.

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