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Fork in the Road

Joe slouched in a hard chair, his phone dangling from one limp hand. He almost let go and let it all fall down, down to the floor. He wanted to just stop the world and get off now. Everything was gone, it was all laid to waste and his life might as well be over. The world was his oyster, not that long before. How had he let it come to this? 
He picked up his hand and stared at the text on it. 
“I know what you did. Don’t bother coming home. I changed the locks already.”
So she knew what he’d done to keep his family together, to keep his home and give his children someplace to sleep at night. When the last business he’d tried to start he had gone to his father-in-law. The ruddy, balding man, his white beard neatly trimmed, had looked down at him from over his wobbling chins. 
“Not a penny.” He had said before his son-in-law had even opened his mouth. The man had felt his face flush. “I’ll get it from someone else, then.”  The older man, Arthur, had sniffed contemptuously. “Not likely. But you won’t get another penny from me. My daughter is always welcome, of course, but not while she’s married to you.”
Joe had left, head held high, although his heart was sinking. His credit was shot, of course. Coming to Art had been a desperate last ploy. His carpet cleaning business was going down the tubes and the last loan he’d scraped up had all gone to pay his vendors.  Now what was he going to do? 
Joe drove into town, following the truck ahead of him without paying much attention to where he was going. The rain and dusk didn’t really exist for him, he blindly followed the taillights ahead, tears making them look like stars. He almost followed them right off the edge of the road. 
Stomping on the brakes, he fishtailed to a stop. His heart in his throat, he ran to the edge of the blacktop and looked down into the ravine. The armored truck lay on its back in the ravine, one headlight still shining. The undercarriage was steaming in the cold rain. 
Joe scrambled down to the truck, grabbing branches and slipping the last few feet. He could hear a man groaning from the wreck. He looked into the gaping hole where the passenger window had been. The guard was obviously dead, his head hanging at a strange angle. The driver was half conscious, covered in blood. Joe couldn’t see well enough to tell what was wrong with the man, and he couldn’t reach him from this side of the truck. 
He backed out and started to go around the back of the truck. He didn’t want to go near the engine. The back door was buckled open, and Joe stopped and stared. Bags of money lay half inside the truck, one was torn open and twenties had spilled out into the mud. The driver moaned and Joe started. He looked up at the road. Only his headlights showed. He hesitated a minute. This road wasn’t busy, but it was likely someone would be along very soon. 
He made his decision. 
Now, four months later, he sat in a hotel room wondering bitterly why he had chosen as he had. Would she still care? Was this the end of everything he’d ever wanted? He lifted the phone and dialed a number from memory. Time to find out the answer. 
This is my Indie Ink challenge piece for the week. I was challenged by Dirk, with “the world’s his oyster”, And I challenged SuperMaren. 
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4 thoughts on “Fork in the Road

  1. Ach!! It's so open-ended, I'm not sure if she's mad for not helping the half-dead driver, for taking the money, IF he took the money… I WANT CLOSURE!!!! LOL! Which is to say, nicely done!

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