After dropping his kids off at school—the “baby-sitters,” he called it—he peeled out of the parking lot. Turned up the radio. The sun had risen just over the low clouds hanging above the hills to the east, prompting sunglasses ahead of the intersection.
What would those fucking liberals be up to today, he wondered, as he flew through a red light, honking his horn and flipping off the goddamn Prius that came screeching to a halt just feet from the side of his truck.
“Fuck you sissies! Gas wins,” he cried, wiping powdered donut crumbs from his powerful dark mustache before guzzling the last of his Rockstar. “Some of us have to actually work for a living Goddamnit!”
Accelerating to 85 on the mostly empty side road, his haste, as usual, was halted by stop-and-go traffic on the freeway: cars lined up, red brake lights. A wall of license plates. It was no worse than usual, and yet, he reacted as though a fresh wound.
Why couldn’t people just drive? Faster, God-fucking-damnit. He honked his horn, raging at the futility, glancing side to side like a trapped animal to see if he’d pissed anyone off enough to prompt a reaction—but no luck. Once, in a fit of road rage, he’d had a gun pulled on him by some gang-banging black drug dealer, which is why he now kept a loaded sawed-off tucked into the pouch behind the drivers’ side seat. An insurance policy.
“You know what a lot of people saw in this last election? You get to the polls to vote, like the responsible American citizen you are. You’ll get there, and lo and behold: thousands of illegal immigrants in line, speaking Spanish as if it’s their own country…” Rip McCarthy, radio host of Patriot Mornings, was saying. “These people waited hours upon hours to vote and by the time they finally got into the building the smell of refried beans, dirty ponchos, and tequila was so overpowering they were hardly able to pull the lever…”
It made his blood boil. A taco truck at every construction site. Groups of men in dirty coats standing on street corners, hoping to get picked up for work—work white people use to do. Christ, he couldn’t even take his kids down to the swimming hole anymore because it was chock full of writhing brown little bodies, welfare moms on the beach chattering away in spic-speak. Where were the pretty white teenagers of his youth? Answer: not at the wetback watering hole. Round ’em up, he thought. Build a wall. Get ’em the fuck out of the here.
Finally, his exit appeared and he sped off, gunning the engine to mock those left in traffic. The road curved into a typical modern suburban strip mall, new concrete everywhere with small trees studding the sidewalks, complete with right hand turn lanes and median dividers and traffic lights and signs wherever possible. He wrapped around two intersections and into the parking lot, weaving toward the Safeway where he worked. They weren’t supposed to park in the first ten rows closest to the storefront, but his boss was a spineless, Democrat-loving pussy who would never confront him (a faggot too, he suspected), so he parked his truck in the closest space on the right.
Entering, the store was mostly empty. Only two of the checkout stands were lit, and of these, only one was dealing with a customer. The other was Becky, a petite, 19-year-old community college dropout he’d love to fuck, especially given how fat his wife had gotten after their second kid, but he didn’t have the first clue as how to make that happen. The few times he’d tried to talk to her she seemed annoyed, which made him ashamed and then embarrassed and then angry—and then furious, so seething with wrath he’d knocked over the banana display on his way to the back of the store.Today he just marched on past.
Beyond the checkout stands, a few blue-hairs wandered the produce aisle, fondling each fruit carefully to see which was ripe. “Figure it out grandma,” he muttered as he passed, continuing to the bakery, and then, at last, to the frozen food windows in the back.
The hum of the freezer refrigerators, the blink of bright lights turning on as customers approached, the clean windows panning immaculately stocked shelves of every possible food that existed—all of it preserved perfectly—it was wondrous. And all one needed was a microwave to turn any of these dainties into something piping hot and delicious. It made his heart swell with pride.
Officially an assistant manager, the PIC (person in charge) of the frozen food section, he made about four bucks over minimum wage, but that wasn’t the way he liked to tell it. At parent teacher conferences recently, he’d found himself yelling at his daughter’s 4th grade babysitter, telling her he was, “the head manager of stocking, shipping, and refrigeration—that place doesn’t run without me,” and, “the private market’s a hell of a place, sweetheart, nothing like these cushy, public-union jobs,” because, “results matter. We actually have to take pride in our work.”
The first thing he did was walk the front of the freezer displays to see what customers saw, fixing boxes if they were off-kilter or didn’t have their labels facing forward. Industry insiders called it “facing.” Satisfied, he continued toward the back of the store, plowing through the double doors into receiving and storage. The produce guy, Bill, nodded as he walked in.
He clocked in and picked up the clipboard of scheduled deliveries to see when they’d arrive. In the last week a good amount of product had passed its expiration date (free food, as far as he was concerned), and the process of switching out old for new was ongoing. The rest of the day was fairly routine: unloading shipments as they came in, storing excess product in the box freezer, restocking when necessary. There was a lot of downtime, most of which he spent reposting conservative talking points on social media while listening to 1360 the Patriot.
In between working, he butted his way into conversations with checkers and staff—especially the younger employees—steering them in a political direction if possible, and then peppering his targets with conservative talking points until people excused themselves to go back to work.
It didn’t take long. No one could withstand more than a few minutes of Jason’s reasoning and logic. And it was easy. When people disagreed, he’d raise his voice over theirs and interrupt, calling any facts they’d cited into question as, “biased bullshit from the liberal media.” And when the conversation turned to something he wasn’t familiar with, he could always fall back on the basic tenets of modern conservatism: taxes bad, government bad, unions bad. Environmentalists, feminists, and Europe bad. Non-white: suspect. Non-Christian: suspect. Military good, rich people good, corporations good, oil good.
Donald Trump: great.
At 4:45 the day was almost over, and then—as so often happened—Jason got screwed. A delivery of frozen pizzas and ice cream showed up. Late. It was supposed to have been there just before three, but the driver got stuck in some sort of traffic jam on the interstate. If he’d showed up only an hour later, it would’ve been the night manager’s responsibility, but just his luck, the fucker showed up right before he was about to get off. Typical. Almost like God was trying to screw him on purpose.
“Couldn’t just wait a few more minutes, eh?”
“What?” the truck driver asked.
“Never fucking mind. Just help me get the product off the goddamn truck. Some of us have families to go home to.”
The driver shook his head, but did as he was told. In truth, Jason wasn’t going home straightaway, but to The Lacy Jade, a strip club where a gal named Heaven (which she assured him was not her stage name) worked. He’d been plying her with ones now for nearly a month and felt as though on the edge of a break through—that any day now she’d take him in the back and give him her buxom body. She liked him, he could swear. And strippers get horny too, right?
But now there was no way that could happen—if he was too late his wife would start bitching and listening to her fat jowels jawing at him was the last thing in the world he could stand. Fuck. He’d have hit her by now but he knew she’d call the cops. Used to be that was how a man kept order in his house. But not anymore. Not in pussified, nanny-state, Democrat America.
Still, after a few grumbling and grudging minutes, Jason put it aside and he and the driver got into a groove. The work went smoothly. He was carting the last pallet off the trailer when the driver came back out flipping his keys around.
“Alright, pal, I’m out. Just watch that freezer door—seems like it’s sticking a little.”
“Yeah, yeah, I think I know how things work around here buddy,” Jason muttered. “Freezer door always fucking sticks a little.”
“OK. Thanks man. Sorry for being late,” he added. “See ya.”
Jason didn’t reply. Fuck him anyway—it was already 5:15 and he wouldn’t be able to leave for at least another half hour. Freezer door sticking? The freezer door always fucking sticks. He couldn’t believe the nerve on the guy: telling him how to do his job like he didn’t know already. Unbelievable.
Finally, he had the last pallet loaded and ready to cart into the storage freezer. Hot from the work, he pulled the door shut to unload and stack the last few boxes in place. The freezer had a certain order and he meant to keep it, even if it meant staying a little longer—at least he’d get overtime. And with that he put on his headphones, turned on his radio app, and continued working.
“Climate change? HA! That’s a communist conspiracy theory concocted by the Chinese. Seems to me the trees still lose their leaves in the fall, there’s still snow on the ground in January, and summer’s still nice when it ain’t too hot. I’ll tell you what’s really the problem—it’s these liberals running around in their electric cars telling you gasoline is bad. Gasoline ain’t bad. Our country was built on gas. The only problem with gasoline is that the people who sell it are successful, and if there’s one thing the Democrat Party hates, it’s a successful capitalist enterprise…”
Stupid bastards, Jason thought, stacking the last container box on top of the others. Finished, he promptly opened it, grabbed four boxes of pizza—no one would ever know since he kept the inventory—then headed out. With his left hand, he pushed the button on the freezer door, but it only went down halfway. He pushed it again, harder, and still it stuck. Again halfway. It just wasn’t getting the extra inch it needed to release the latch. He put the pizza boxes down and slammed the button with his elbow.
“OWWW!” he screamed, pain burning through his left arm. “OWWWW!”
“Hurts, does it?” a voice like a professor’s asked.
“I asked if it hurts. Unfortunate, really. I’m very sorry. A bruised elbow wasn’t supposed to be part of this.”
Jason looked around the room. Someone was speaking to him, but how? There wasn’t anyone in the freezer except him. And Goddamnit did his elbow hurt.
“Please don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”
“You heard me: don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. At least not while I’m here.”
And then, following the voice, there he was: a small, elderly man sitting on some boxes of frozen Tilapia. He was dressed in tan corduroy pants and a green sweater, over which he wore a black peacoat; he had short-cropped silver hair, small blue eyes, and though wrinkled with age, he appeared healthy and fit.
“Who are you?” Jason gasped, not knowing what else to say. And then, “where the hell did you come from?”
“I am a messenger of God.”
“A messenger of God—you know: an angel, a cherub, a member of the Holy Choir.”
“You’re full of shit.”
“No, Jason Fish, I assure you I am not.”
“We’ll see about that motherfucker,” he replied angrily, marching over and grab—but when he tried to haul the man off his perch by the coat lapels, his hands went right through him! “No way,” he gasped. “What the hell?”
“I told you, Mr. Fish, I’m a messenger of God—I’m not of this world.”
“Fuck this man, I’m getting out of here!” Jason yelled, retreating to the door and pounding on the stuck button. “Come on, come on, come on! Goddamnit—PLEASE! HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP!”
“No one’s going to hear you, Mr. Fish; you’re just wasting your time,” the angel said quietly. But Jason kept at it a few minutes, pounding on the door, hammering at the button, attempting to wrench the lever free, all the while screaming “HELP! HELP! I’M TRAPPED!” After awhile, he tired and sat down on an empty pallet next to the door, panting.
“As I said, no one is going to hear you,” the angel repeated.
“Why? The night manager should be here by now,” Jason replied, incredulous. “And people come to the back all the time. Why wouldn’t they hear me?” he added.
“Because, Jason Fish, you are being called to account by Almighty God.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Again, Mr. Fish, I assure you I am not.”
“OK fine,” he conceded, “fine. So what does God want—why am I being…”
“Called to account?”
“Good. Now you see, Mr. Fish, we’re getting somewhere,” the angel hopped off the box, put his hands behind his back, and continued, “You see, God watched the last U.S. election rather closely, and frankly he’s appalled by what’s happened—”
“Why? It was a choice between a patriot and a lying fucking criminal cunt.”
“Exactly, Mr. Fish. That is exactly what is of concern to our Deity.”
“Well good, I’m glad He’s on our side.”
“No, no, Mr. Fish, that’s your problem. He’s most certainly not on your side.”
“He wanted that stupid whore to win?!”
“No, I’m afraid you don’t understand. God doesn’t vote. Nor frankly, did He support one candidate in particular over another in this or any other election. As you may or may not know, God has taken a step back for the last couple thousand years.”
Seeing that he was confused, the angel attempted to clarify, “let me explain: in the Beginning, God gave human beings everlasting paradise—Eden—but invariably, your kind chooses free will, including the freedom to do wrong—to sin, in other words—against God, each other, the earth, animals, sometimes even yourselves.
“That is, of course, why Jesus was necessary. Because even in sin, God still loved you and wanted to offer humanity a path back to paradise. The sacrifice of Christ offers every human being that path, and as such, it wasn’t necessary for God to take an active role in the world anymore. Now, you people govern your own affairs—for the most part. Of course, you could choose to govern yourselves much more graciously than you do, but that’s your problem, not God’s. He gave you free will, the capacity for near infinite knowledge, and what the human race chooses to do with that is up to you. And in case you, to use your parlance, Mr. Fish, ‘fuck it up,’ Christ’s forgiveness is waiting so that you need not fear death.”
“l fucking knew it! Those Muslim terrorists are going straight to hell!”
“Not exactly, Mr. Fish. God has made pacts with all people on earth. Those who don’t know the love of Christ will get their chance to know Him and receive His Forgiveness before it’s all said and done, so long as they have shown others the love that all human beings carry in their hearts. Didn’t you ever read C.S. Lewis?”
“Who the fuck is he? And goddamn it, are you kidding me? There’s going to be ragheads in heaven?” Jason couldn’t possibly believe he’d have to share heaven with a bunch of dirty terrorists who hate America.
“Please refrain from using the Lord’s name in vain, Mr. Fish. I don’t want to have to ask you again. In any case,” the angel chided, “haven’t you got your own problems to worry about? It’s awfully cold in here.”
True, Fish shivered, noticing for the first time. He wished he could grab one of the freezer coats they left on the rack just outside. He began rubbing his hands together and then thinking better of it, pulled his arms under his sweatshirt to keep warm, still rubbing them with his hands.
“OK, fine,” he said at last, “I’m being called to account. What the hell does that mean? And when do I get to get out of here?”
“Well, that all depends, Mr. Fish. To be perfectly honest,” the angel continued, shrugging his shoulders, “I’ll probably have to leave you in here.”
“What—why? What have I done? I’ll freeze to death!”
“Precisely. That is precisely the point, Mr. Fish. You see, your soul has become what we call ‘irrecoverable.’ And to make matters worse, your actions, beliefs, and thoughts are so disgusting and reprehensible, we can’t really allow you to keep on living as you are.”
“So you’re going to murder me?”
“Oh, it’s not murder, actually, Mr. Fish. You yourself pulled the freezer door closed after scoffing at your colleague’s warning that it was sticking.”
Shit. He’s right, Jason thought, but “why won’t someone come in to save me?”
“As it happens, there just isn’t occasion for anyone to come in tonight—the night manager’s extremely busy already with a massive spill in the dairy section and one of the checkers called in sick at the last minute… so for the moment, everyone’s spoken for.”
“But couldn’t you save me? Couldn’t God?”
“Of course, of course. But as I said, God generally doesn’t intervene in earthly affairs, though in this case I suppose, His choosing not to intervene could be seen as somewhat of an intervention.”
“What the hell?” Jason demanded, growing desperate and angry.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, Mr. Fish. You’ll find out soon enough.”
“But, no, I mean, why—what have I done?”
“Well, like I said, your current predicament is the result of not heeding the good faith warning you received earlier today; but since our time is running out, I suppose I better just get to the point. At noon today, God chose to launch the first large-scale intervention in human affairs since World War II.”
“But we won World War II—America. We killed those fucking Nazis and—”
“Yes, yes, I know what you and the rest of your countrymen think, Mr. Fish. And it’s true that American soldiers fought bravely in the war. But do you really think taking the beaches at Normandy was possible without Divine Intervention?”
“No, Mr. Fish. God saw to it the Germans weren’t prepared. Their strongest fortifications were to the north-east in Calais, as were the bulk of their soldiers and panzer divisions.”
“Just accept it, Mr. Fish. We’ve got a long way to go yet…” the angel paused a moment, “now where was I? Oh yes, you see, it’s gotten to the point where conservatives in America are causing devastating and long term damage to our Brand.”
“God has a brand? Like Carhartt? What brand?”
“Well yes, of course He does—it’s called Christianity, my friend.”
“But I am a Christian.”
“Oh, hahaha, that’s very funny Mr. Fish—hahahaha!” the angel began laughing uncontrollably. “Whew, ha, ha, wow—my goodness! Ha! That’s a great one. Wait til I tell the Metatron. Whooo. Haha. Hmmm,” he cleared his throat, “anyway. Hmm. Sorry, Mr. Fish. I should be more restrained in such a somber moment, but man that’s hilarious.”
“But I AM a Christian! I believe in Jesus Christ! I believe—”
“Let me stop you there, Mr. Fish. You are most certainly not a Christian. You—”
“But—” and then, suddenly, Jason couldn’t speak. His mouth continued moving, but… nothing.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Fish, but I won’t be interrupted. This isn’t one of your fascist talk shows. And besides, it’s important you hear this: you, sir, are not a Christian. Not even close. If you’ll recall, Christ’s message is one of unselfish love, compassion, and forgiveness. His teachings are, at their core, about placing the utmost value on human life and dignity, about having respect for oneself and others, about seeking the truth of things, about pacifism and the rejection of material wealth… In other words, sir, everything you and American conservatives are not. To begin with, you hate the poor.”
“Not true!” Jason argued, finding his voice had returned.
“Oh, really?” the angel shot back. “You people keep voting Republican, and yet, what do they do in office? Cut Food Stamps, prevent a raise in the minimum wage, block or repeal other forms of help for those less fortunate, decry and attack welfare in all it’s forms—”
“And their rhetoric doesn’t label the poor, ‘lazy? Takers? Welfare queens?’”
“Well it’s true—they are!”
“No, Mr. Fish, it’s not true. And frankly, it’s disgusting you people find it fit to slander your fellow man, some of whom are so desperate they’d search the garbage behind this establishment for a meal. Do you recall Matthew 25:41?”
“I thought not. It concerns who will enter heaven and who will be damned to hell. And Jesus told his disciples:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”
The angel paused a few moments, for effect, then finished, “Doesn’t seem to me like Christ would be very please with the Republican platform, does it Mr. Fish?”
Jason opened his mouth to object, but found he couldn’t—not, this time, because he couldn’t speak, but because he couldn’t object.
“Furthermore,” the angel continued, “You express hate and disdain toward so many of God’s children. It would seem anyone who doesn’t speak English, isn’t white, or isn’t Christian is a candidate for mistreatment… or worse. I mean my God man, without fail you guys defend police officers who kill innocent, unarmed African Americans—every time! And Donald Trump, your Republican President, has said so many awful things about so many different people I don’t have time to list them all before you freeze to death.”
His impulse was to argue, but Fish kept his mouth shut. There has to be someway out of this, he kept thinking. Some hope.
“Hope? Let’s add that to the list. For the first time ever your country has the courage to elect a black man—who is one of the most decent and intelligent people on earth—and what’s your reaction? You make ‘hope and change’ into bumper stickers advocating gun violence, all the while cheering a party who has completely abdicated it’s responsibility to govern, unless it’s to help the gun lobby or the rich and powerful. Not exactly what Christ would approve of, Mr. Fish.”
“OK, I get it, I GET IT!” Fish shouted. “Please, Mr.—”
“Angel is fine. Mr. Angel if you prefer to attach the usual title and formality.”
“Please Mr. Angel! I just don’t want to die!”
“Jesus didn’t want to die either, Mr. Fish, when it came down to it—but let me get back to the point—it probably won’t make you feel any better, but at least you’ll understand. Anyway, as I hope you can see, broadly, the actions of American conservatives are a real problem for God, and finally, He’s determined to do something about it, which is why we’re here today in this freezer. I mean, surely you can understand it’s not a good look for God to have a bunch of people running around calling themselves Christian and using that label to get themselves elected to political office while their thoughts and actions are precisely the opposite of what Jesus came to do on this earth. Indeed, if our poll numbers are correct, you people have already done considerable and irreversible damage: Christianity hasn’t looked so bad since the Salem Witch Trials—and it’s never been so unpopular.
“Worse, it doesn’t seem—for most of you at least—that there’s any shred of honesty or integrity left for in your souls for God to salvage, even after death. Think on it a moment, sir, of all the lying and dishonesty. Oh sure, all humans lie from time to time, especially politicians, but American conservatives have taken it to a level unprecedented in human history. I mean, come on man: denying climate change? God was really hoping you guys were going to act in time to stop from killing off your own species, but thanks to American conservatives, that’s in doubt.”
“But Climate Change is a Chinese—”
“I know what you think, Mr. Fish, but it’s not true. And it doesn’t end there. Saying Democrats want to abolish the Second Amendment? Suggesting tax cuts for the rich will trickle down to the poor? Getting people hysterical about voting fraud in order to prevent people from voting? The liberal media? HA! Utterly absurd, Mr. Fish. Utterly absurd, and from our perspective, embarrassing. The lying has become so brazen many conservative politicians refuse to acknowledge saying things they’ve said—just days ago. And yet, there’s no remorse, no acknowledgement of the dishonesty, and so many of you seem not to care—even while accusing your political opponents, primarily, of being dishonest. The hypocrisy is absolutely staggering. To use your parlance: what the fuck, Mr. Fish?” the angel paused, then thoughtfully, “Do you remember your Commandments, sir?”
“Uh, uh,” Jason stammered, “uh, thou shalt not kill… thou shalt not murder… thou shalt—”
“How about the Ninth Commandment, Mr. Fish?”
“What? Thou shalt not… ” but try as he might, Jason couldn’t conjure any others.
“Bear false witness. Thou shalt not bear false witness,” the angel repeated. “It means you shouldn’t lie, Mr. Fish. And that is perhaps most concerning of all, for the American conservative traffics in a cacophony of lies and dishonesty every single day.”
“But I believe in it—all of it!” Jason cried. “How can it be a lie if I think it’s true?”
“God gave you a brain, man! Use it for goodness sake! Do you believe in leprechauns and unicorns? Do you believe the world is flat? Or better still, would you vote for a man who loudly proclaimed such beliefs? I don’t think so, sir—there’s a difference between genuine belief and allowing yourself to be deluded. You’re most certainly one of the latter.”
Jason thought a minute, unsure of what to make of everything. At last, overcome by emotion, he broke down and began to cry.
“Please. Please. I don’t want to die. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’ll change. I can change,” he blubbered through the tears. “Please, Mr. Angel! Please, I don’t want to die. Please give me another chance.”
“I thought you’d ask me that. Ugh! OK, OK, one moment, please, Mr. Fish,” came the exasperated reply, and then suddenly, he was gone.
Not knowing what else to do, Jason went again to the door and pounded on the freezer button, yelling “HELP! HELP! HELP!” as he clawed desperately, hands beginning to go numb.
“Calm down, calm down—I was only gone a minute.”
Jason turned and kneeled before the angel, hands together in prayer, “please. Please,” he begged, “please sir, just give me one more chance. Please…”
“Yes, yes. Well, you’re lucky I suppose. Our God is a Merciful One. He is willing to grant you a reprieve provided you agree to the following terms.”
“Oh anything, anything, I swear!” Jason exclaimed, jubilant with hope.
“Are you ready then? Here are the terms:
“One: you must treat other human beings with respect—all of them, regardless of race, religion, creed, etc. All of them.
“Two: you must act with dignity, love, and grace. No more yelling, screaming, angry tirades. No more threatening gestures or hostile actions. No more hate, Mr. Fish. From now on you must turn the other cheek as Christ commanded.
“Finally, number three: you must start going to a Christian Church; you must tithe there, 10% of your earnings per year, and Mr. Fish: you must act in accordance with the Ten Commandments and live by the Lord’s Prayer. Do you know what that is?”
“I thought not. It’s found in the Book of Matthew, starting at chapter six, verses nine through thirteen: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. I trust you can look up the Commandments?”
“Of course. Absolutely—I mean, yes, sir,” Jason stammered.
“Good luck then, Mr. Fish.”
And with that, the angel disappeared. Jason shivered, then went to the door once more and tried the button. Still stuck. But just then he heard the familiar squeal of the lever outside, and miraculously, the door opened. It was the night manager, Rick.
“Ahhh!” he screamed, jumping back. “Jason? What the hell are you doing in there?”
“Oh thank God for you Rick, thank you thank you thank you!” Jason exclaimed and rushed to hug him.
“Of course man. What were you doing in there?” he asked again, adding, “how long have you been in there?”
“I don’t know, what time is it?”
“Oh,” Jason thought as he grabbed one of the freezer jackets, rubbing his arms, “about a half hour I guess. I got trapped, man. The button stuck on the inside of the freezer. And there was this…”
“This… oh, never mind. I was probably imagining things. I thought I was dead for sure man, thank God for you Rick.”
“It’s all good man, just glad I happened to come back here.”
Still cold, Jason went to the staff area and poured himself some coffee. He drank it quickly, refilled the generic cup, and then went to clock out. “I’m going to take this freezer coat with me tonight, Rick. See you tomorrow.”
“Sounds good. Take care, Jason,” Rick replied, heading back toward the front of the store.
As soon as he was gone, Jason went back in the freezer—sure to leave the door open, this time, propping a chair to hold it—and grabbed the four pizza boxes he’d had before getting trapped. No harm, no foul, he thought.
He threw them in a bag and pushed through the heavy swinging doors, walking out the entrance furthest from the checkout stands, where Rick stood talking to a customer. Then he jumped in his truck, cranked the heater, and took off, driving into the half light as the sun had now set beyond the west hills.
About ten minutes from home, he exited the freeway and headed up toward his little apartment complex, thick trees lining either side of the street, leave-less, framing the winter sky. As he turned the final corner toward home, he saw red brake lights ahead, and flashing lights a little further up. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. I almost freeze to death and now this. God fucking damnit,” he muttered, “probably a fucking spic who can’t figure out how to drive after picking berries all day.”
But just as he finished his statement, the truck’s steering wheel jerked hard to the right. “What the, come on, how the hell?”
He pumped the brakes but his foot fell through the pedal as if nothing were there, then, “hey, no, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” He screamed, fighting hard to regain control of the vehicle. Frantically he shoved his foot down hard on the emergency brake. But to no avail. The truck continued—accelerating even—to the right, through the bike lane, over the curb, onto the grass, and then between two trees, careening over a steep escarpment into the bottom of the ravine below.
When the police and medics finally managed to navigate down to the wreck, they found a man’s body slumped across the steering wheel of his truck, which was standing up, perpendicular, on it’s nose. The cause of the crash was unknown. They took out his wallet and identified the deceased as Jason Fish, 35. He hadn’t been drinking. And he wasn’t on drugs.
When the police notified his wife and children, they were of course, heartbroken and sad, though less so, some of the officers would comment later, than one might expect given the circumstances. Luckily, his wife noted, he had decent life insurance.
No one else gave a fuck.
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