Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Guest Room Pt. 4 - A Short Story

Joshua awoke at a random rest stop along the I-5 corridor. He had fallen asleep in the passenger seat with the seat cranked as flat as possible. Resulting in a better rest then he had the day before in this same car. There was no crick in his neck this time, although he was a little stiff and needed to stretch. Of course he would need to use the restroom before he hit the road and would get the chance to stretch then. He grabbed his overnight bag, he wanted to brush his teeth and freshen up a bit. The sun was just barely coming up over the mountains and it was that light that had awoke him. He stretched as he exited the car, it felt good to stretch.

After he washed his hands and while he was brushing his teeth, Joshua reviewed the last 24 hours. This time yesterday he had been headed to his job. Then he had went on the crying jag, which was because he finally accepted the fact that his wife was missing and had been gone for a year. When he had been able to drive again, he went home and packed clothes, toiletries and all the food in his house that required no cooking or refrigeration. He loaded all this stuff into his car before heading over to the nosy elderly couple next door. When Sarah had went missing Bob and Ellie had been over every day with casseroles or cakes. They were full of good will and even better intentions but they definitely overstepped a lot of bounds. He had found them infuriating before Sarah had disappeared but had learned to accept them and their quirks after. They wouldn't leave him alone, no matter what he said to them, and he had said some nasty things to a lot of people right after Sarah had went missing. One day when he felt the urge to throw them out of his house he realized they were just being good neighbors and Joshua had to stop fighting with them. His visit to them was so they he was going to New Mexico, to pursue all the leads he ever heard about the case. He explained he needed to know what really happened to Sarah so he could start to take the steps necessary to rebuild his life without her. Bob had patted him on the back and told him things like "Finally! I've been telling you to do just that!" (even though he hadn't) and "You go down and you crack some heads if you need too!" To which Ellie said "Bob! Joshua is not a violent man and he does not need you telling him to be violent!" After that died down they promised to watch the house for him. Ellie assured him that she would handle Sarah's plants as well, Joshua had smiled and thanked her. He had not realized there were any plants left around his house but on his way to the car he saw his lawn was well maintained, through no action of his own. Bob and Ellie were definitely caring people.

He waved goodbye to them as he drove off. They were waving at him long past the point were he could still see them but he had seen them do it to other people before, it was just their thing. He hit the freeway and had put a few hours down before he called his office. He was patched through to the owner, it was a small office. The owner had been after him to take time off after Sarah disappeared and he responded well to the news that Joshua was doing just that. Joshua neglected to tell him where he was going and what he was planning to do. His boss might not think it was such a good idea and try to talk him out of it. He was not in the mood for that. The owner told him to take as much time as he needed and that they would still have a job for him when he got back. He had thanked the boss and had meant it. Even though he was not sure he would ever have enough time to heal. He also was not sure he ever wanted to go back but he shut his mouth and played the game.

He had driven for several hours after that, stopping only for fuel and a drop in at In-n-Out Burgers, his favorite chain burger joint. When his eyelids had become heavy he pulled into a rest stop, grabbed a blanket and had made himself comfortable in the passenger seat.

Joshua shook the water from his toothbrush before putting it away. He splashed water on his face and applied a new smear of deodorant. He looked in the mirror, the first time in a year and was startled by how old he looked. He was kind of grey looking too. No wonder people kept asking him how he was doing. He ran his hand across the stubble on his chin before heading to the vending machines outside. He needed a cup of coffee before he hit the road. His next stop would be around Bakersfield or perhaps a little further East. He had chose to drive this route because he planned to stop in Flagstaff, AZ on his way to New Mexico. He had a friend he needed to see, some one he hoped would help. If nothing else he could spend a night or two there, and pick that same friends brain a little. That friend had introduced Sarah and Joshua back in there collegiate days. He had been a man of many connections and new a lot of people all over the place. Joshua was hoping some of those connections might tap into Santa Fe.... his destination. He sent a text message alerting his friend that he would be there in a day or two. With that complete and armed with the coffee and a Nutrigrain bar he headed back to the highway and applied his foot to the gas pedal.

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