The Shortcut

The Shortcut

Copyright © 2019 Farley Dunn

My plans seemed perfectly ordinary. Buy a ticket online, head to the airport, depart … and soon I’d end up at my sister’s in Boise. It was halfway across the country, but I planned to sleep on the way.

I intended to park my car in the airport’s long-term lot. It wasn’t ideal, but it would be reasonably safe, or so I hoped. My trunk was packed when I started the car to find my radiator hissing at me like a snake from under a rock.

I was cutting it close on time, so I resorted to my least favorite mode of transport. Ride-share. I had a card in my wallet with the number. I’d used it once after a party, so I knew how it worked. I rang up, gave them my info and was told my ride was on the way.

Whew! Bullet dodged, or so I thought. I unloaded my trunk and set my things on the walk. The operator had said ten minutes, and about the time I closed the trunk and locked the car, I heard a horn.

“Hey, mon, to the airport?”

I looked to see a tangled set of braids under a rainbow skullcap. I took a deep  breath, waved, and gathered up my bags. He flipped the trunk and I dumped the bags inside.

“Terminal C,” I said as I dropped inside and closed the door, sniffing at the acrid smell inside the car.

“Yo bet. We fly. I be Daniel. Yo want a toke?” He held the stub of a smoking ember over the seat.

“Nah, just a ride to the airport.”

“Come, mon, this make yo ride so much better.” He waved the fag at me, and I took it, not knowing what else to do. Maybe he would at least put his hands on the wheel and get on down the road.

As we took off and the back seat began to fill with a white haze, I realized Daniel had another smoke in his hand, and he was blowing rings like a circus. I wanted to roll down the windows, but they were manual, and there were no cranks.

I was stuck in the muddle with Daniel, and as we were barreling along at sixty or better, there was nothing I could do. Before I could blink twice, the burning toke in my hand grew hot, and I yelped.

“Mon, in your lungs. Yo be grateful when yo do.”

I gave in, put the fag between my lips, and sucked. My eyes went wide. This was strong stuff. I don’t know what happened after that. I don’t remember boarding my plane or even exiting Daniel’s car. I was on my sister’s front step, and she was looking into my eyes with a concerned expression.

“What?” I asked defensively. My head spun, and I realized I was holding my unused plane ticket.

“Nothing.” She opened the door. “Your driver was very nice. He suggested you might be able to get a refund on that. He said he had such a good time he didn’t even charge you for the ride.”

I looked down the street to see a rainbow skullcap turning the corner in a white haze of smoke. I smiled. Ride-share could be my new favorite way to go.