Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)
TITLE: Mysteries of Midnight
By Laura Manley
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Tonight was grueling for Brad. Balancing the books was just that…a balancing act. They never saw midnight on a midweek night, and they were weary as they reached their beat-up, but trustworthy station wagon.
The car purred as Brad idled it until he knew it would perform to its fullest. They settled in with hit and miss conversation. This had been a long day for both and neither was much interested in small talk.
About twenty minutes into their drive, Leslie noticed that Brad had been unnecessarily changing lanes on the four-lane freeway.
“Pick a lane, already!” snarled Leslie.
“There’s a reason for my changing lanes.” Brad snapped back. Simultaneously, both realized they were taking out their frustration of the hour on each other and quickly apologized.
“Don’t look now, Leslie, but there’s something going on that I don’t like,” Brad said with mystery set in his voice.
“What do you mean?” as she forced herself not to turn around to see to what he was referring.
“For the last twenty miles, every time I change lanes, the guy in the Suburban behind us, goes into the same lane I enter,” said Brad.
“So? He has the right to change lanes at his discretion. Why do you think that’s so odd? Leslie asked starting to feel a little apprehensive about the whole situation.
“Well, for whatever reason, which is eerie in itself, the fellow in the big black Suburban wants to stay directly behind us in whichever lane we are driving in. And the really odd thing behind that, Leslie, is there are absolutely no other cars on the road.”
Leslie couldn’t stand it any longer; she had to look behind them to see what Brad was talking about. As she did, to prove his point, Brad changed lanes. Sure enough, the black Suburban drove into the lane directly behind Brad.
This was starting to spook Leslie. “You’re right, Brad!” she exclaimed. “What’s going on? What do you think the purpose is behind him changing lanes every time we do?”
Before answering, Brad slowed down. Instead of the black Suburban changing lanes, the driver merely slowed down as well. Brad was becoming a little nervous about this mystery but kept his concerns to himself so as not to worry Leslie.
The two vehicles played cat and mouse for at least another fifteen minutes when all of a sudden, Leslie felt the car swerve onto a side road. Brad speeded along as he approached a service station. He whipped the old, but faithful, station wagon into the parking lot. An eighteen-wheeler was sitting alongside the mini-mart and Brad maneuvered the car behind its streamlined body so as to avoid being seen by the enemy.
Just as Brad had swerved their vehicle off the side road, he noticed it was not quick enough to keep the black Suburban from following. However, Brad was just far enough ahead that he could hide behind this bunker in the disguise of an eighteen-wheeler.
Time stood still and after Brad was satisfied they were safe, he ventured back out onto the freeway. Still, no cars; but thankfully…no black Suburban either. Brad knew the roads between the race track and their home and shortly after maneuvering back onto the freeway, he took an unexpected exit.
“What are you doing, Brad?” asked Leslie, about ready to call the police for fear of the mysterious black Suburban and its driver.
“I know a shortcut home from here. We’ll take the back roads now,” he told Leslie with a tender pat on her knee. Even with that, Leslie couldn’t relax though she knew Brad wouldn’t do anything to put them into any more danger than they had already experienced.
They continued their journey home. Brad kept one hand on the wheel and the other holding Leslie’s hand. She needed to feel safe.
As they lay in bed, weary from the hour and the mysteries of their trip home, sleep did not come easily for either. That night remains a mystery for both.
*Author’s note: This is a true story. My husband and I experienced this in the mid-seventies during a trip home from the Portland International Raceway to our home in Salem, Oregon. Names have been changed.
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