I turn the key, start the engine, and drive off.
Charlie notices me from the driveway he’s marking up with chalk. His red shirt is halfway up his back and he doesn’t even know it. I give my horn a light honk. He shouts and waves with the chalk he’s holding, then returns to drawing some elephant-dinosaur hybrid. I feel obligated to warn him about how dangerous it is to draw so close to the pavement, but neighbors don’t always appreciate well intended advice – especially when it comes to their kids.
I grab my expos cap from the passenger street and screw it on my head as I exit my neighborhood and start along the main road.
A few repairs to do today, but mostly standard cleaning. Fortunately, most clients won’t be home. I like people; just not the way they look at me when I clean their pools.
I turn on the radio hoping to hear some jams. Instead, I get the stupid AM morning shows that nobody wants to hear. I switch to this popular jackass on FM – he calls himself ‘McWatty9’, and even though I listen to him I swear I can’t stand him. The guy reads the news off like he’s doing standup. Something he says catches my attention. I turn it up.
That’s right, folks the suspect with the penis-hairdo cops hunted like nymphos for has… finally-been-nabbed! Documentation confirms he’s the alleged bomb plotter whose made strange, mange, and deranged purchases up and down the county area. This dickhead won’t stop yammering to authorities either, but he… won’t give us a hint about what he’s done with all his bomb materials! Assuring us he’s not insane, the phallic-tipped bandit claims a man from his DREAMS made him do it!
My heart pounds. I pull over to the side of the road, put my truck in park, then turn the volume up.
And that, folks, is your… bum-ba-da- dum! Nutjob of the week!
(sound effect – a parrot chirps, “He’s a nutjob! He’s a nutjob!”)
I turn the radio off. Mere coincidence. Has to be. Still, I wish I knew more about the suspect’s story. I wish I knew more about the man in his dreams.
Part of me wants to call Loretta, right now, and tell her to take Avery to her mom’s house. I shake my head instead, then remind myself how ridiculous I’m being – it was a dream. Am I really so paranoid as to think ‘Master’ is real, and has some kind of power over me? I mutter to myself the best piece of advice my father ever gave me.
“Stop being an idiot.”
I get back on the road and head to my first house. It’s a nice place, overlooking the beach. Owner’s a tool, but his pool is beautiful. The water spills over the edge, giving it a ‘waterfall’ effect.
A white van approaches on the other side of the road, traveling the opposite direction as me. Its driver stares at me as our vehicles cross paths – he’s a white male, with serious power alleys. The man in the passenger seat is equally buff and terrifying. A scar runs from his nose to his lip, and he glares at me like a hungry wolf smells blood.
I keep track of the van in my rear view mirror. It disappears from view, driving somewhere in the direction of my neighborhood; in the direction of my family.
-Thomas M. Watt