A New Life

Tires squealing, Column bolted from the roadhouse, too many memories in his wake. In the rear view mirror, the jagged pink neon shrank from view, allowing him to breathe a sigh of relief. He glanced down at his phone. It was 8:46. Still early. Still alive and kicking. Just gotta put a few miles on and I’ll be good.

When he looked up again, he was overtaken by deja vu. There it was again, looming electric in the night, the goddamned roadhouse. “What the hell.” he said, as his ex-wife waved at him from the porch, sweaty mimosa in hand. “Told you there’s no way out,” she yelled across the lot. Despite his lack of air conditioning, he rolled up the window, cranking the classic rock station to eleven.

What did I ever do to her, he thought as he pulled out of the lot again. He thought back to the late nights at the office while she waited at home, the forgotten anniversaries, the unreturned texts. I never meant to hurt you, Davi. I just needed to figure out my life. I was treading water. Memories of her walking out burned in his skull. Watching her soft black hair blow in the breeze as she swayed across the parking lot to Terry’s car, idling by the dumpsters. I guess I could’ve been a better husband, but you didn’t have to fuck my best friend. Still, you have him now. He’s a far better man than me. What do you keep on pulling me into your life? Or did he keep pulling himself back into her life?

Once again, the road stretched out before him, long and gray and hot, even as night’s shawl fell upon it. Two hundred miles to Memphis and not a moment to spare. A new life, a new girlfriend, a new job, everything was waiting for him. This time, he wouldn’t look back, he wouldn’t look down, he wouldn’t even think about his old life. What’s the point? He didn’t know why he’d ever come home again. His parents lived in Miami Beach now. Why did he agree to meet Davi for a drink? Maybe, somewhere deep inside, he needed her forgiveness. Or maybe he needed to forgive her. Or himself. He wasn’t even sure anymore.

An old Clash song burbled through the radio, and he found himself crooning along. “Should I stay or should I go now.” The words splattered against the car window, and he stopped singing. Totally not helping. He flipped the radio station and locked his eyes on the road. No distractions this time, he thought, no more pointless memories.

His phone rang. He didn’t want to answer it, but what if it was Leela wondering what was keeping him. Glancing down, he noticed that was Terry. What the hell did he want? I’ve got nothing to say to you. As he focused on the road again, that same pink neon shimmered on the horizon like a tunnel without end.

“Goddamnit! I give up!” he said, pulling into the parking lot and slamming his car into a space out front. Davi still sat on the front porch, in their old spot, with her legs crossed sipping on that same mimosa. Walking to the bar, he glared at her. “You win.”

Her ripe copper lips pursed around the straw. ” I know.”

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