Fate Waits for No Man

Ron Karpinski 1999

 

A storm warning flashed across the bottom of the television screen: "Severe cold and ice forecast for entire Indianapolis area within the hour."  Ken glanced at his watch.  If he hurried, he had just enough time for a quick trip to the store.

Dashing out the door, he slid behind the wheel of his pride and joy, a blue Datsun 260Z sports car.  One turn of the key brought a quick growl from a hundred and thirty horses under the hood.  Minutes later, he cruised down a nearly empty highway.

The drive to the store passed without incident.  Ken hurried inside, bought a few essentials, and returned to the car; but, by then, the skies had turned black and ominous.

On the way home, sheets of heavy rain, sleet, and hail pelted the windshield.  The road became a foggy blur.  At North German Church Road and 38th Street, ice covered the intersection.  The rear tires skidded, and the car spun out of control.

The car spun completely around before landing in the ditch, still facing forward.  Tilting far to the right, it hung for a second or two, and then settled back down on all four wheels.  A thin crust of snow gave way, and the car sank to the axles in the soft soil.

Mired in the steep trench, Ken hung his head.  Why had he been so foolish?  Why had he ventured out in such bad weather?  For nearly an hour, he sat and waited.

At last, a police cruiser happened along.  The officer offered to call a tow truck with his radio but admonished Ken to remain with his car until the wrecker arrived.  Ken, happy to foresee an end to his predicament, gladly accepted the officer's terms.

The next half-hour passed in silence; and not a single vehicle ventured down the treacherous, icy stretch of asphalt.  Ken paced at the edge of the road.

Suddenly, a small red car came from out of nowhere and slowed to a halt in front of him.  Inside, a young woman beckoned with one outstretched hand.  Ken edged over, stepped gingerly on the ice, and leaned inside the open window.

She turned and looked up at him.  Light brown hair fell in soft curls, framing a pair of pale blue eyes.  Perfect straight white teeth broke into a gentle smile.

"Would you like a ride?" she asked, briskly patting the seat next to her.  Every man must dream of a moment like this; but, when it happens, words often fall short.

A dozen thoughts filled Ken's mind: his car, the tow truck, the policeman, this woman, and the unknown places she might take him; but, when he finally did speak, he hardly recognized his own voice.  "Thanks," he said, "but I have to wait for the tow truck."

"Are you sure?" she asked.  "I don't mind at all.  You really shouldn't stay out here in this cold, you know."  He gazed down at the smooth bare skin above her knees.

He scolded himself for fearing what the policeman might do, if he left before the tow truck arrived.  His heart told him to jump in the car with this woman; but he couldn't stop worrying about the consequences.  She did not ask a third time.

Sadly, he watched, as the small red car faded into a tiny dot on the horizon.

 

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