This wasn’t where he was supposed to end up, thrown into a ditch off Highway 80, with nothing but a half-open pack of Nutter Butters and a San Diego Chargers keychain. There were three keys on the keychain but Brandon had no idea what any of them opened. After a couple minutes of assessing the damage done by being thrown out of his girlfriend’s 1998 Subaru Forester at 75 miles per hour, Brandon rose to his feet. A couple scratches on his legs, a little blood seeping through his shirt. Nothing much. His right sandal broke in the fall, leaving Brandon with the choice of going completely sandal-less or walking with only one sandal. He chose the one sandal, and started walking.
This was exactly where he was supposed to end up, sprawled across his deck facing Mission Beach. Jeremy sat up, removed his glasses, and walked back inside. He went to the restroom to relieve himself, and noticed his wife had bought new skin moisturizer. Jeremy looked left, then right. He was in the clear. He applied some of the lotion to his face, and saw the terrible tan line his sunglasses left. The area around his eyes stayed cotton white while his face looked like a bagel that had been in the toaster too long. This wasn’t good. Jeremy applied the lotion to his face, and it soothed the pain. After rubbing what seemed like half the bottle on his lobster face, he used the facilities, and showered. He checked the clock. 4:52 pm. Time to get dressed. Tonight was a big night.
She wasn’t sure if this is where she wanted to end up, removing a bedpan from underneath a patient’s backside. Sure, being a nurse meant helping people in need, but Sarah wanted something more. She wanted to travel, to leave Fletcher Hills, to go out and find herself. No time for fantasies though, she only had five more minutes on the clock. Sarah reinstalled a patient’s IV drip, and taught an intern how to find a vein. It was 4:59. Sarah walked over to the time sheet, and after waiting what seemed like the longest thirty seconds of her life, clocked out.
It was getting dark out. As Brandon walked he saw the sun begin its descent to the other side of the world. He’d been walking for a while now, and had long abandoned the sole sandal he started out with. The Nutter Butters were disposed of, left behind roughly ten miles ago. Brandon wiped his forehead with his right hand and fiddled with the keys in his left. The blood coming from his shoulder had dried, leaving a crusty reminder of the incident he was already trying to forget. Brandon had been singing along to some old Deep Purple songs he had stuck in his head, and that’s how he kept time. Twelve tone deaf renditions of Smoke on the Water, seven air guitar solos of Child in Time, and eight emphatic shoutings of Lazy meant around three hours had passed. He knew why he had been pushed out of the car, and didn’t really blame her. Their road trip to Tahoe to celebrate their two year anniversary was probably not the best time to tell Christine that he was calling off the engagement. Things just weren’t working out between them. He loved her with all his heart but hadn’t felt the passion he used to. Plus, the scrawny 20-year-old that fell in love with her was much different. He was still scrawny, but his mindset had changed. He’d made new connections, new friends, new revelations. Brandon felt he had a future ahead of himself, a future he didn’t see Christine being a part of. So he cut it off. In retrospect he could’ve picked a better time, but it was done now. Brandon continued to walk, and saw the first car he’d seen in a long time. This highway wasn’t the most traveled. He casually flashed the hitchiker’s thumb, with an ounce of hope the car would stop.
It was getting dark out. Jeremy had just emerged from the shower, and had changed into his tailored suit. After applying more lotion to his face in an effort to cover up the terrible tan he endured earlier that day, he washed his hands and looked in the mirror. Damn. What a good looking man. If his skin was just a tad less red he’s look like a poor man’s Matthew McConaughey. Jeremy wiped his hands and walked out to the garage. Should he take the Audi today, or the Porsche? Tough decision. Jeremy searched through his pocket, filtering through lint, crumbled receipts and ear buds before finally finding a coin. He pulled it out, and gave it a flick straight up in the air. Jeremy caught it, and peered down. Heads. Wait, he just realized he didn’t know whether heads meant Audi or Porsche, so he had to redo. Heassigned the Audi to heads and Porsche to tails. One more flip……….heads again. Audi it is. Jeremy opened the garage and drove off. He checked his watch. 6:45. That gave him ten minutes to get to the restaurant.
It was getting dark out. She put the car on cruise control at 64 mph, and turned on her brights. No cars in sight, in front or behind her. Sarah looked around for cops, then with one hand on the steering wheel keeping it straight, picked up her phone. Two new notifications from Facebook, and a text from Mom. Sarah ignored them, and swiped to get to her music. Scrolling through her artists she found a list of songs she had added to a sex playlist. Sarah blushed a little, then thought of the last time she used that playlist…….oh wait, she hadn’t. Her last relationship ended seven months ago, and she’d been too busy with work to even think of starting a new one. She hooked up with Ronnie the male nurse in the on-call room, but after Ronnie went on sabbatical to the Himalayas to “find himself,” she’d been alone. Sarah shuffled the playlist, and remembered why she chose some of these songs. The Weeknd’s “Outside” came on, and Sarah slowly started to nod her head along to the beat. Three songs later, she was too turned on to keep listening to the playlist, and switched to the rap metal that her ex-boyfriend had put on there. That was a perfect turn off. Sarah refocused on the road, and about two hundred feet ahead, noticed a figure. By now it was 6:50, and it was almost pitch dark, but Sarah could make the outline of a person, and as she got closer, saw his thumb. A hitchhiker. Feeling generous, Sarah pulled over. The figure, now a man, walked towards the passenger side door, and hopped in. He was a mangy fellow. Fairly long brown hair, with hazel eyes that looked like they’ve seen a lot of shit. One could tell he hadn’t shaved in a fe days, and his blue shirt was ripped. He didn’t look older than 25, but smelled like a man in his 70’s. He looked at Sarah, and managed a shy smile. “Thank you, my name’s James, but you can call me Brandon.” Sarah smiled and asked him where he was going. “Doesn’t matter, I just need to get to a gas station with a pay phone.” Sarah nodded, and got back on the road. There was a gas station a few miles ahead, but she didn’t want to just drop this kid off looking like he did. For god’s sake, he was barefoot. Maybe it was her lack of social interaction outside of the hospital, but she wanted to get to know him. She pushed the gas up to 70 mph and kept driving.
He had caught a break. After three hours of walking in the middle of nowhere, he’d finally been picked up. Brandon laid his head back, and took a deep breath. His feet rested on the mat, which felt like a plush pillow. Brandon looked at the lady who picked him up. She seemed to be in her late 20’s, but had bags under her eyes that suggested otherwise. The old Toyota Camry had a bunch of papers and water bottles in the back. While she looked like she hadn’t slept in a month, the lady had this sense of beauty about her. With her black hair tied up in a ponytail, she wore an oversized sweatshirt over a pair of blue scrubs. Brandon closed his eyes for a second, but opened them back up two minutes later when he realized he was about to fall asleep in a stranger’s car. He wiped his eyes, and caught a whiff of his pits. He smelled like Grandpa Stanley. Brandon looked at his reflection in the mirror, and was equally appalled. Being thrown out of a car and walking barefoot for three hours doesn’t do much for the appearance. The lady paused the terrible rap metal that was playing, and started asking questions about Brandon. Where are you from, what do you do for a living, blah blah blah. Brandon answered in short sentences. Half an hour south of downtown San Diego, part-time electrician, etc. Brandon showed no interest as the lady talked about where she was from and her job. Finally, the lord showed mercy and a gas station approached. The lady pulled into the station and Brandon said his thanks, then immediately bounced. As he walked towards the pay phone to call his parents, the lady shouted “Wait!” Brandon turned around, and the lady said “Aren’t you hungry? Come to my home, we can get you showered and into clean clothes, and you can have something to eat.” Brandon thought about it, and decided to continue with the lady. He got back in the car, and dumped his pockets of lint. He felt around, and realized he had no change in his pockets. If he had stayed at the gas station, he wouldn’t have had money for a pay phone. The lady pulled out the station, and got back on the road.
He had caught a break. Traffic going west was packed but Jeremy was driving east, so it was a breeze. He found his exit and pulled off. Tonight was the six year anniversary of his marriage, and he had reserved a table at the nicest restaurant in town, Gino’s, for a nice dinner with his wife. Jeremy’s wife was on her way, with about five minutes separating her and Gino’s. Jeremy parked in front of the restaurant, and exited his car. He was low on cash, so he popped over to the bank across the street. He had five minutes to get back to Gino’s before Tracy threw a fit.
She had caught a break. Finally she was spending time with someone outside of the hospital, even if it was a mangy hitchhiker. The hitchhiker was in the shower, so Sarah sat on the couch, reading the newspaper. She set down the paper, and heard the shower turn off. Sarah had set freshly cleaned clothes in the bathroom for him, clothes that belonged to her ex. Clothes that he tried to take back after the breakup, but never got. The hitchhiker walked out of the bathroom with his clothes on. He looked good. His hair was combed nicely, and he filled out the Van Halen tour shirt well. Sarah fetched him a belt as the pants he wore were too large, but they looked good nonetheless. They crawled back into the car, and left to go to the grocery store. Sarah was planning on making her not-so-world famous lasagna, and needed the various ingredients. They pulled out of the driveway, and off they went.
He felt good. Brandon enjoyed the twenty minute shower a lot, maybe too much. So many girly shampoos and body washes made him smell like what he imagined a rainbow would smell like. The clothes he was wearing were odd, but they were a million times better than the ripped and bloody mess he was sporting an hour earlier. They got back on the freeway, headed to the grocery store. He was told he would be eating lasagna, which he hadn’t had since his junior prom, when his date’s mother made him come over for dinner before the dance. Brandon didn’t remember the lasagna so much as he remembered that his date’s dad warned him to not try anything with his daughter or he would “shove my foot up your ass so far you’ll be able to pull the laces out of your nose.” Ahhhh, Mr. Watts was a cool guy. Brandon snapped out of his reminiscing and noticed they had pulled into a parking lot. A Safeway stared them down, and they exited the car. The lady said that she needed to pick up some cash because she didn’t want to have to use her credit card, so they walked over to a bank. Brandon had no business of his own to tend to, so he stayed outside the bank while he waited for the lady.
He felt good. He was near the back of the line for the teller, but his wife had texted him that she was running late, so he wasn’t going to get chastised for being late and punished in the form of no anniversary sex. Anniversary sex is the third best kind of sex he and his wife have, only coming up short to makeup sex and angry sex. But anniversary sex is interesting in its own right because for that one night a year, Jeremy and Tracy remembered the couple they used to be, long before all the money, power, and fighting. Jeremy snapped out of his reminiscing and noticed there were only two people ahead of him in line. He pulled his wallet out and readied himself for the teller.
She felt good. She was about to deposit a paycheck, and then she was going to eat dinner with someone for the first time since Brad left. Sarah was stuck behind some guy with a terrible tan, he looked half-guido and half-lobster. He was withdrawing money. No, scratch that, a LOT of money. This guy had so much money he could’ve paid to have new, non-lobster/guido skin grafted on. Sarah got to thinking about Brad, and how he really held her back. He didn’t want her getting a job, he thought she’d do better staying at home. That would’ve made some sense if they were married and had kids, or if Brad even had a job. When they first split, he was intent on taking everything that was his out of the apartment they had. After a couple minutes of storming around he realized the only thing that was actually his was the Xbox he spent all day playing. Now, Brad was a dumb guy, but he wasn’t stupid. Even he knew that Sarah owned everything in their apartment except for the Xbox, and immediately apologized. Sarah wanted to kick him out but didn’t have the nerve. Two months later they finally broke up for good, and since then it’s been a lonely time for Sarah. She snapped out of reminiscing, and smiled. Things were gonna change. She had found a guy, and he was kind, sweet, and hot as fuck. Yep, things were looking up with Brandon. Lobster man was almost done with his withdrawal, so Sarah readied herself.
He heard a weird noise coming from the bank. A popping sound, followed by another, and another after that. Brandon set down the smoothie he purchased and walked towards the bank. There was yelling and screaming. He ran to the entrance of the bank and saw a man, cloaked in black from head to toe. The man had a gun in his hand, and was pointing it at a teller. Brandon realized the bank was being held hostage, and the lady who picked him up off the side of the road, showered him, clothed him, and fed him was in there.
He heard a weird noise coming from the door. Jeremy had just received his cash, and turned to exit the building. He saw a man enter the bank. The man wasn’t too intimidating, but was at least 6’0” and was in all black. Faded black vans couples with black socks led up to baggy black snowboard pants. The man rounded his outfit out with a black pullover and ski mask. In his right hand he held a handgun, in the left a machete. Just as we was about to call for help, the masked man spotted him and raised his gun. Pop, pop, pop. Three shots riddled Jeremy’s torso and right arm. He fell to the floor like a stack of pancakes. The masked man walked over, grabbed the cash from Jeremy’s left hand, and kept moving.
She heard a weird noise coming from the entrance. Sarah didn’t pay it attention at first, as she was in the middle of a long text to her mother, but turned around. Immediately she saw lobster man, who had just finished his withdrawal, get shot twice in the chest and once in the arm. He wasn’t going to make it out of here alive. The man who shot him grabbed his cash, pushed his body to the side and kept walking. He made his way to the teller, and demanded she open the vault to the main stash of money. All it took was two seconds of hesitation for the man to deem her useless. He shot her twice, and moved to the next teller. This teller was more responsive, and hurried to find the combo. While waiting for the vault to be opened, the masked man looked around at the customers. One woman stood with her two children, terrified. The masked man shooed them out, and they quickly exited. He let out an old couple, and a pair of newlyweds who were opening a joint checking account. Then he set eyes on Sarah. The masked man studied her for a minute, then instructed her to “sit down on the fucking floor.” She obliged. This was a full-blown hostage situation.
He was terrified. Brandon had no idea what to do. The cops had just shown up, and were trying to convince the masked man to let the hostages go. He let a few go, but the lady wasn’t part of that group. Brandon was conflicted. Does he get the hell away from there, or try to do something? The police wouldn’t get him go in and try to take the masked man out himself, in fact they were already lining their snipers up in case he didn’t flinch. But Brandon felt he needed to do something. So he approached the police chief, and asked him what the situation was. One masked man, twelve hostages, one hostage injured, one dead. They were gonna give the masked man five minutes to relent before taking him out with the pull of a trigger.
He was losing consciousness. Jeremy had been badly wounded, and knew there wasn’t much longer had to live. He motioned for the masked man, and asked if he could call his wife. He obliged. Jeremy grabbed his phone, pressed 1 on the speed dial, and Tracy picked up. She was sitting at their table, mad he wasn’t there. He told her to calm down, and explained the situation. While holding the phone with his left hand Jeremy cupped his big wound on his stomach. Was that his intestine? Gross, it was. Jeremy told his wife he loved her, hung up, and ushered the masked man over his way again. He asked him to take him out of his misery, but not before he said something. The masked man said he had twenty seconds. That was plenty of time. Jeremy gave him the middle finger and told him to go fuck himself, then bang.
She was pissed. Why did this have to happen on a night where she meets someone cute? Come onnnnn. Only this would happen to her. Lobster man had been killed along with a teller. Now left twelve alive hostages. She was tired and weary and just wanted to leave. Sarah heard a small noise coming from the back of the bank. A small creak and then slam. Someone had entered the building.
He was a moron. And he knew it. Sneaking into a controlled hostage situation? Brandon was the biggest moron in the world. But he couldn’t just leave the lady to die. He closed the back door behind him, and slowly walked around to the main area. He peeked into the lobby, and spotted the lady. She didn’t see him, but one of the hostages did, and made a murmur, followed by a shush sign from Brandon. He didn’t know what to do now that he was in the building, but he thought quickly on his toes. He picked up a pen from a nearby desk, and threw it at the masked man.
She was a moron. And she knew it. Sarah heard a pen drop, and heard the masked man grunt. He turned away, and Sarah saw her chance. She stood up, grabbed a pair of scissors from the tellers desk, and ran.
He made a bold decision. Brandon had attracted the attention of the masked man, and was subsequently shot twice in the stomach and twice in the left leg. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain. The masked man laughed, and walked over to him, pointing his gun at Brandon’s head. That’d be the end of him, until Brandon heard a shriek.
She made a bold decision. Sarah saw Brandon get shot, and took action. She leapt onto the back of the masked man and stabbed him in the neck with the scissors. She retracted and stabbed again, and again. The masked man threw her off his shoulders, and fired four stray bullets.
He was dying. Brandon was no longer able to move, and breathing came harder by the second. The lady had been shot too, in the neck and ribs. She fell at his side. Brandon mustered up all his strength and pulled himself over to her, where he put his left arm around her. Their pools of blood merged, and even though they had just met three hours earlier, he felt a connection to the lady like none he’d ever felt before. Brandon held her tight, then died.
She was dying. The masked man was dead, but not before shooting Sarah twice. She was paralyzed, and couldn’t see the blood pouring out from inside of her. But she heard Brandon as he crawled over to her, and put his arm around her. She had never felt a bond like this, and was at peace. She let out one last breath, then passed.