Seventeen Years in Neutral

“Great ride, Rick.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“How much?”

“Couple hundred large.”

Whistle.

“Well, you know, we get to this age…”

“Yeah. But you’ve always got the money.”

Pause.

“Nice view, huh? Fine sunset, sparkling ocean…”

“That’s right, Bernie. Steep cliff. Wouldn’t want to drop anything over!”

Laughing from one, half-hearted chuckling from the other.
“Say, Bernie, you ever going to retire soon?”

“I dunno, Rick.”

“Consider it. Look at me, living the good life.”

“Last time you told me to do something, Rick…”

More laughing. A hint of accusation floated in the air.

“Hey, uh, Rick, do you think I could get a look at the interior? Just a see?”

“Huh?”

“Of your car.”

“Oh, yeah. Of course. Do what you want!”

Doors click; vinyl shifts as one of the old men sits down in the driver’s seat. More whistling.

“Man, Rick. You really outdid yourself.”

From the other seat: “She’s a beauty, to be sure.”

Admiration and pride hung heavy.

“Goodness.”

Smiles, all smiles.

“Leather paddle shifter?”

“Great, huh?”

“Wow.”

Click, click, click. One of the old men shifts the paddle up and down, in awe, and then leaves it alone.

“Well.”

The two men get out. There’s a sudden change in mood. Sneers.

Bernie: “You know what, Rick?”

The other stands with a suddenly bewildered expression.

“What is it, Bernie?”

A confused question.

“Don’t think that I don’t remember, Rick! I hate you!”

“Remember what?!”

“You know what!”

“I don’t know! Calm down, Bernie…”

“Don’t tell me what to do! I’ve waited long enough—seventeen years is long enough!”

A sudden realization dawns on the attacked man’s face.

“No!”

The shining red paint glints in the sunset as the car plummets five hundred feet into the ocean below, smashing into the water with a mighty crash.





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