Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Anger (01/24/05)
TITLE: Tale of Two Fingers
By Hope Horner
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“Am I wearing a sign that says ‘Please cut in front of me’ or something?” I thought sarcastically. Just this morning at Starbucks, some guy in a blue suit pretended not to see the line and cut in front of me and several other people. He turned around and shot us a “And what are you going to do about it?” look. We really didn’t have anything in mind, so we all just stood there perturbed. He snatched up his venti mocha and strolled out the door without a look back.
Now I was ambling my way through Los Angeles morning traffic with thousands of other poor souls. All I wanted to do was drop my son off at kindergarten and get to work by 8:00 a.m.—is that too much to ask? It shouldn’t take 2 hours to go 35 miles!
“You doing OK back there buddy?” I asked my son who was propped up in his car-seat in the back. The bump and nod of traffic usually rocked him into dreamland in no time.
Just then, a white Volkswagen bug crept into the fast lane and brought it to an ever slower crawl.
“Could you go any slower?” I screamed at my windshield. The Volkswagen was moving along like a small dog with a limp. It’s probably stuck in 3rd gear. I thought in disgust. In one exasperated motion, I shot back into the lane on my right which seemed to be moving a bit faster—at least for now.
“WHAT?! You weren’t there a second ago!” I yelled. I looked back and noticed I had just pulled out in front of some teenager in a new, yellow Mustang with no front license plate.
“What else ya get for Christmas?!” I shouted as his front bumper faded in and out of my rear-view mirror.
Suddenly, he pulled out from behind me and into the lane to my right.
“You may have a Mustang, brother, but this old Toyota’s still got some life in her!” My anger made me wish I could floor it and take off, but the traffic was barely moving so I just revved the engine. I had hoped it would make a really macho throaty sound, but it ended up sounding more like a very happy kitten.
I glanced in my rearview mirror. He had on large, dark sunglasses and his head was shaved bald. His tattooed left arm hung casually out the window.
My anger turned to fear.
“Great! I just cut off some notorious gang member and now he’s going to shoot me in cold blood right here on the Ventura freeway!”
My mind raced to think of a plan.
Should I get out now? But how will I get my son out? Where’s the nearest call box? What will I do if he has a gun? Duck? I didn’t mean to cut him off—really--I was just trying to get around that slow driver! Why do they allow those old bugs on the road if they can’t go over 25 mph?
His lane inched forward. Mine didn’t. He was now even with my car.
Anxiously, I turned my head to look at him. I expected to see the end of gun or at the very least a rude gesture.
Instead, to my complete surprise, he stretched out his long, muscular arm and held two fingers up in the air to form the peace sign.
At first, I thought it might be one finger, but no, I checked again, and it was definitely two. And was that a smile?
I checked the traffic in front of me and then glanced over at him again. He pulled his dark sunglasses down on to the tip of his nose and I noticed that he was not even looking at me. Instead, he was focused on the backseat of my car.
I jerked my head around to look at my son.
He was definitely not asleep.
With the wind in his hair and a grin on his face, my son was holding his arm out the window with his two tiny fingers up in the air.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
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