Mark lived a lonely life, but from the outside you would never see it. He was married for 23 years and had a 12-year-old son, but the family didn’t end there. They also had a beagle raised from a puppy and a goldfish going on 3 years. But still with all the difficulties and realities of life he couldn’t remember back to the time he fell in love with any of it. He knew he loved his wife and his kids; probably even the goldfish, but he couldn’t feel it. The pressure of his boss constantly laying unreachable deadlines, the mortgage, and every other external distraction, had placed his priorities on different shelves than you and I. His outlook on life seemed to cause a negative effect on his family because there were constant fights with his wife and the child was lashing out in some adolescent rebellion. This had to change or he would soon come to a point of no return, but how? He searched online, asked friends at work, would even go to a psychiatrist if he could afford it, but nothing was out there. Until one unsuspecting day when he was on his regular routine home there was road construction signs everywhere. He had to deviate from his normal path and go through neighborhoods he would never go through. When suddenly he blew a flat. Just his luck. He stepped out of his sedan and kicked the tire. It was completely blown. Without thinking he instinctively grabbed his phone and began looking for a tow truck company. While checking multiple companies he needed to find the lowest rate; and fast, the battery was at 3%. While immersed in his search he heard what sounded like a diesel truck coming down the road. The truck pulled up right beside him and it said Ateehos Towing. Wow could his luck be changing? The truck stayed idling and was lifted high enough where he couldn’t see up into it. He heard the door open and close on the other side and boots slowly coming around the truck. He had a very bad feeling about this. A tall trucker with a sideways hat stood there looking him up and down and then looked at his tire.
“You need some help I take it?”
“No I think I got this,” Mark said.
“No I don’t think you do,” the tall stranger snapped back.
“I –I could use maybe your help.”
“There we go, that’s the spirit,” the stranger lightened up. “We get these city folk in this area all the time and they want their safe ways always getting outside help. How do you think that feels to us out here who got jobs to do to make our money?”
Mark was hesitant, “I could defiantly use a tow.”
The trucker stood there with a blank expression then spit out the side of his mouth. “My names Bo.”
“Oh uh, Mark.” He reached out his hand.
Bo squeezed it tightly and looked through Mark. “Nice to meet you Mark,” Bo said, “You don’t need a tow, just a simple change. You got a spare?”
Mark wished he did so he could get the hell out of here. “No sadly I don’t have that kinda luck, it’s never in my cards.”
“Luck?” Bo looked offended, “There aint no such thing, it’s just a matter of using what you got.”
Mark humored him, “Yeah your right”.
“I tell you what, I bet that the exact size of your tire is the one and only tire I have in my back here,” Bo said. He walked over knelt down and sure enough it was the exact size he had, even the same model that was on the other three wheels. He replaced the tire and didn’t say a word the whole time. After everything was fixed Mark insisted on paying the man but he wouldn’t take it.
“You see your life is what you make of it and that is why you have what you have, and that is why I have what I have,” Bo exclaimed.
“I don’t entirely understand,” Mark said confused.
“Look, go see this woman and tell her your issue, she can help, she always helps.” Bo handed him a card with an address on it and got into his truck. Mark stood there reading the card and feeling very bad about this. Almost as if it had eyes and it was watching him.
Mark thought about going straight home, but what awaited him there? A routine fight with his wife? Another story of how his son got in trouble? No, he would see her, “she always helps.” It was about 45 minutes out of the way and already he was thinking of excuses to tell his wife why he was late. He pulled up and it was a normal suburban house next to many other identical units, in fact the whole street looked like a mirror image of each house adjacent to it. He was hoping for maybe more excitement, going in thinking it’s a hoax you at least want to see vials labeled eye of newt or frogs breathe, as you stroll alone through an abandoned house till your hear a faint sound in the basement and as you go down the dark narrow space a cat jumps out of no where, or some sort of fantasy. Even a few cobwebs on the porch, would do, but nothing. He rang the doorbell and stood patient almost hoping someone wouldn’t answer so he could say he at least tried. But not his luck, he heard feet rapping on tile floor, a simple lock unhinged and a woman appears. “Hello you must be Mark?” the young woman asked.
Mark was instantly breathless, “uh-yes. How did you-?“
“Your name tag.”
“My-ohh,” He was so embarrassed.
She stood there with a smile, “please come in.”
Mark entered the house and everything was clean and kept. No mason jars. She sat him at the dinning table and asked his troubles. He gave the basic run around but she stopped him when he said, “I’m just not in love anymore”
“Why not, take your time to answer,” she leaned in.
“Well, I think because, well, I don’t want to” Mark was instantly taken away. He couldn’t believe he said that, was that really how he felt?
“There is nothing to be ashamed of, what you need to be thinking about is do you want to?”
“Of course,” He said before she finished her sentence.
“What would you give for this emotion?” She said very serious.
She stood up and walked away, seconds later returning with what looked like ancient paper, a quill, and a bottle of black ink. “If this is what you want then sign right there at the bottom,” She pointed.
Mark tried to read it over but somehow the words didn’t make sense. It was English so he could tell it wasn’t foreign but something about the arrangement made him confused. “What’s this for?” he asked.
“For your safety,” she said as she pulled the signed page away.
Mark left the house bewildered. He paid nothing and got nothing. By the time he was home he had already forgotten everything. The house was dark; he turned the lights on and no one was home. It then dawned on him that his wife’s van wasn’t in the driveway. He set his keys on the counter and saw the phone blinking 10 new messages. The first some Indian accent trying to sell something, the second background noise then hang up. But the third made his heart drop. A police asking for Mark, there had been an accident involving his wife and he needed to ID the body. The drive there was a blur but he was wide-awake when the police escorted him to the morgues office. He told Mark she was in an automobile accident. 15 cars. Streets were closed for blocks. The double door swung open, there in a cold room on a metal table his wife laid. He walked over and held her hand; tears built up till they ran down his face and soaked his collared shirt. Mark knew how eternity felt and he didn’t like it. When he returned home his son was just getting there. He sat down and told him.
Mark laid in bed broken and then fell asleep. A muffled whimper startled him awake. The porch auto light was on. He grabbed his lucky bat and stepped outside. A puddle of blood was in front of him and what sat center was his beagle, lifeless. In a shock he ran inside to call the police, but stopped dead in his tracks when he saw his wife. His mind couldn’t react, but his body did as it ran to tell his son, mom is home. He didn’t bother knocking and swung the door open. He was acting faster then his brain could process. His son lay in bed pale and partially eaten. Mark stood there a husk of a human. He couldn’t take in all this information. A loud moan was in his right ear and his wife was already advancing on him. He shrugged her off and she fell face first into the fish bowl. She stood back up with broken glass sticking out of her skin and continued to approach him. He screamed, “NO” as he hit her head with the bat. The neck jerked to the side but she still came closer. Mark then continued to cave in her skull with continuous swings till he was out of breath. He collapsed to his knees too tired to cry, too tired to go on. He looked at his wife then his son.
Mark Felt so much love for his lost family.
He wiped the tears away and chuckled. “She always helps.”