A short story by E. L. Hayes
The clouds sat low in the sky, the grey drizzle was relentless, a fog clung to the branches of the tall trees leaving a thickness to the air. Abigail Morris pulled her chestnut hair back and twisted it into a loose bun. She closed her eyes praying the old truck would start. Relief poured over her when she turned the key and the engine cranked to life. Bobbing her head to see out as the wipers spread a dirty arc across her windshield. She turned up the radio as she pulled out onto the road. The jerk of the wheel a second too late, the truck bottomed out in a large pothole. She let out a loud oof. The engine sputtered and died she rolled to a stop on the side of the road.
“No!” Abby cried out as she pounded the steering wheel. Running her hands slowly over her face and let out a long sigh. She turned the key, nothing. I should have taken this hunk of junk to Mike to fix. A few more attempts and she admitted defeat smacked the steering wheel again and grabbed her cell phone.
“Yeah honey, what’s up?”
“Hey, I am out here on Route 20 about two miles from the Andersons place and the truck stopped again. Do you think you or Mike can come get me?”
“Sure. Let me get my keys, we’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Abigail scrolled her numbers and called her next appointment.
“Hello, Mrs. Holland? This is Abigail Morris, can you please let Judge Martin know I am going to be late.”
The nasal response was curt, “He doesn’t like to wait. He wants to be here for the appointment.”
“Yes, I understand that. I don’t like to make him wait, but I’m stuck out on Route 20.” she rolled her eyes, “I will get there as quickly as possible.” She hung up the phone before the old crone could say another word. Why is that woman always in a bad mood?
A dark blue Dodge Charger slowed to a stop beside her. Abigail kept her gaze forward refusing to look over. She felt for the Ruger LC9 her dad had given her last Christmas. ‘Never good to be out on some dirt road alone Abigail. Just keep it to make your old dad feel better.’ he had said. She argued with him that night about the gun but today felt a sense of gratitude for her father’s insistence.
The driver tapped the horn. She meant to only take a quick glance over. Wow, she thought. He had wavy dark hair, sharp features, warm skin that was roughed by a few days of growth, but it was his bright amber eyes that reminded her of molten gold that caught her by surprise. She cracked her window just enough to hear him.
“You need a hand?” His voice deep and smooth.
“Nope,” she willed herself to look away but failed. “Someone’s on the way,” lifting her phone, “should be here in any minute.” When he smiled she bit her lip and fought the smile tickling at the corners of her mouth. Her awkwardness made worse by the heat she felt rising in her cheeks. “But thanks!”
“Okay, great.” He sat idle for a moment, then called out again, “Hey, mind if I just wait here in my car until your help comes. It’s getting late I don’t want to leave you out here alone.”
A large tow truck that roared up in front of her and her shoulders relaxed, “No need, that’s my ride.”
“Okay then, be safe.” He watched the two men moving toward her truck. Dipping his head, he waved as he began to pull away. A loud surprised laugh came from the man then he called out, “Mike Morris, is that you?” Abigail’s brother bent to peer into the car, “It is you! Long time no see, man.” He put the car in park, exited and stood well over six feet as he walked toward Abby’s brother.
A smile of recognition spread over Mike’s face, “Dean, Dean Walker. Oh, dude, it’s been a long time!” The two men embraced.
Abigail stood leaning on her open door. “I take it you two know each other.” She felt herself hold Dean’s gaze for a moment too long.
“Yeah,” Mike slapped the man’s back. “This is Dean Walker.” Giving his friend another quick jab. “Dean this is my little sister. Abby.”
Dean’s hands were rough when he shook her hand. “Most people call me Abigail. A pleasure to meet you.”
“Abigail, it’s so nice to finally meet you.” His smile was genuine, and those eyes locked onto her again. She forced herself to look at the ground. When she looked up, his attention was still on her, “How did you two meet?”
“We were in the service together,” Dean answered.
“We were in the same unit. Small world, what are you doing in Arbor Hills?” Mike asked.
“I just accepted a job offer with the Sherriff’s office.” As he answered his eyes drifted back to Abigail.
“That’s great, we should get together and have a beer.”
Abigail partially listened as the two men reminisced. Her chest pounded with excitement when she caught him stealing glances back at her.
Abigail’s father popped his head out from under the hood “Abigail, I am going to hook your truck up and take it back to the shop. It’s going to take more than a few minutes to fix this old girl.”
She sighed, “Oh brother,” and mumbled under her breath. “this sucks.”
“What? Your brother told you to let him fix it last week.” Mike chided his sister, “too busy moping around to get your truck fixed though.”
She flashed her brother a warning look, “I was working, you idiot, anyway, woulda, shoulda, coulda doesn’t help me now. I am never going to make it to my next appointment, I need to make a call. Nice to meet you, Dean.”
“Believe me, the pleasure was all mine.” His eyes lingered as she took a few steps away. Abigail felt a smile tickle her lips when he lowered his voice, “Dude, I figured the way you talked about her she was like a little, little sister.”.
“She is, she’s eleven months younger than me.”
Dean let out a long hum and stroked his chin, “She does not qualify as a little, little sister.”
“She’s like five inches shorter than me.” Mike joked.
“Four and a half, idiot.” Then those eyes were on her again, she spun and walked toward her father’s tow truck. “Hello, Mrs. Holland—“