How would you know you’d hit rock bottom? This weighed upon Billy’s mind as he drove. He concluded one sign was grasping at straws. Delivering 10 pizzas to the middle of nowhere was grasping at straws.
He wanted the money; wanted it so bad he could taste it. Would it happen? How many men have done how many stupid things for promises of sex or money? Speaking of sex, would he be doing this if his ex-girlfriend wasn’t canoodling in an Audi with a trustfunder?
He swung past a rural bank and then, abruptly, swung a U-turn. At this hour, it was closed. But the ATM was open and it was time to test a theory. His theory being that he was a gullible jackass.
He paused in the parking lot and fiddled with his smart phone; transferring his tantalizing yet unbelievable PayPal tip to his nearly empty checking account. PayPal deducted the usual usurious fee. (Bastards!) He waited 10 minutes and rolled into the ATM Lane. There he attempted to withdraw the money.
No withdrawals over $300? Bastards!
Billy reflected that he had never before encountered that limit. Not a good indication of his financial history. Angrily, he jabbed at the keys and requested $300.
And there it was… $300 in fresh clean greenbacks. Holy shit!
Theory disproven! He rolled back out into the empty street and floored it.
Forty minutes later, having broken every traffic law en route in a pell-mell scramble to find and latch on to this mysterious money source, he swooped into the location indicated by GPS. It was the middle of nowhere. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he fumbled in the glovebox to retrieve his Glock… a present from Grandma, the only family who ever understood him. If this was a carjacking he was gonna hold on to his Subaru until his last breath! Grandma would approve.
Maybe that’s another sign of rock bottom, when you’re utterly unafraid of a carjacking and willing to take a job that says “two column inches in a police blotter”? Then again why not? His ex-girlfriend was shagging a rich douche bag in an Audi while he was a college dropout delivering pizza to an empty field.
“LEAVE THE PIZZA UNDER THE PINE TREE.” He had just received a text.
“I’M NOT GETTING OUT OF THIS CAR UNTIL I CAN SEE YOU.” Uber drivers, like bartenders, beat cops, ER nurses, and hookers… have seen things. They don’t step into traps lightly.
We? As in more than one? His eyes narrowed. The car was a tactical advantage he wouldn’t give up. Standing in a field with a few scattered trees was vulnerable and stupid. Nothing happened. He waited.
If they didn’t approve the Uber ride he wasn’t getting the money. But leaving the car was out of the question. Time to push it.
“THIS PIZZA IS DELICIOUS! I’M EATING IT RIGHT NOW.” He texted.
That did it!
A deep guttural roar blasted across the field. Something huge and evil was charging at him!
If saving his friend Doogie during “the battle of the tutoring room” was his bravest moment, this was Billy’s most reckless moment. The Subaru was still idling and without hesitation Billy put it to use. He dropped it into drive, flipped on his high beams, and rocketed across the field. He aimed directly at the charging demon.
In his later years, Billy would wonder why he did this. The truth is he had nothing to lose. The monster apparently did. It skidded to a halt and turned tail.
What the hell was it? Maybe a homeless bum covered with dreadlocks? Why on all fours?
Whatever it was, Billy was going to flatten it. Heedless of his vehicle’s suspension he gained on the fleeing monster. Did werewolves really exist? If they did, this one was the old-school kind. A ragged beast of the eastern European variety that tore apart peasants and livestock. Count on his luck that it wasn’t the handsome kind that got involved in love triangles with nitwit teenage girls.
Regardless, the creature couldn’t outrun a pizza delivery driver. Billy thundered past, gaining a brief but clear view of the skinniest, ugliest, bear he’d ever seen.
The bear was making for a shabby pine tree and cover where a Subaru couldn’t go. Billy was relieved he wasn’t fighting the supernatural but in no mood for forgiveness. He angled sharply and cut the bear off. Let’s hear it for all-wheel-drive!
The bear circled around and Billy chased him; recklessly endangering man and bear and Subaru. Suddenly there was a squirrel on the hood. It was clinging to his windshield wiper and waving its arms. It must’ve been in the grass somewhere.
Who knows what would have happened next? (Certainly not the author of this ridiculous story.)
The future held murder. Billy had lined up the hood of his car on his target. His manly valor was willing to accept… no, not merely accept but demand a dented hood as the price of flattening the bear. Bart the bear braced itself for his certain demise. He’d gotten a good view of the driver of the Subaru from hell and reflected that the driver was white. As a black bear about to be flattened by a white driver it was clear, just as he’d always expected, he was going to be killed by a racist. He tried to let out a belligerent roar, “Bear lives matter, bear lives matter” … but it came out weak and quivery; “Bear! Lives? matter…”
Terry the squirrel clung to the windshield wiper frantically trying to defuse the situation and grimly mused that each and every animal on God’s green earth was dumber that squirrels. The world would be so much more peaceful if she were in charge. Only one thing could stop the mayhem. Indoctrination. Billy’s phone chimed.
He was of a demographic that had been trained almost from infancy to carry, use, covet, respond to, and accept the commands of… a cell phone. For example, Billy lived in a car yet had an unlimited data plan; the irony of such budgetary choices never occurred to him. He read the text:
“STOP. DON’T HURT SQUIRREL!!!!!” Mary and her stolen iPhone were the single thread of sanity in a situation that had gone off the rails.
Billy let the bear escape. He blinked. The squirrel, clinging to the windshield wiper, was staring directly at him. Another chime.
“DON’T HURT SQUIRREL. BIG TIP. MONEY!”
Just as Billy never knew why he decided to charge across the field, he never knew why he decided to stop. But he gingerly rolled back to the dirt road and parked his car.
In a flash the squirrel leapt away. Heart racing, Billy wondered how much expensive undercarriage damage he’d done when two bucks in ammo would’ve done the job? Grandma would’ve know better. She’d have stepped out of the car, dropped the bear, and be halfway to making a rug of it in the time it took Billy’s heart rate to subside. He took a deep breath, counted to 10, and texted:
“WHO AM I TALKING TO?”
“WE ARE LESBIAN ACTIVIST SQUIRRELS.”
This didn’t penetrate Billy’s cerebral cortex. From the shadows beneath the tree he heard a growl.
“AND A BEAR.”
Billy waited for this to make sense. It didn’t. Another text.
“STILL HUNGRY. PLEASE”
Billy rolled down the window and hurled a pizza box into the darkness.
The bear charged it, tore into the cardboard and started eating; ignoring all else. Billy hurled another pizza. The bear attacked it and chewed, box and all. Billy hurled a third. A squirrel appeared from the grass, dodged a sloppy swipe from the bear, grabbed a bit of crust, and disappeared.
“WE ARE HONEST. WILL PAY. $$$”
Billy gently opened the passenger door and kicked the remaining seven pizzas to the ground. Then hurriedly slammed the door and backed up his car. He watched with round eyes as his headlamps illuminated a bear and two squirrels devouring ten pizzas with extra anchovies.
He let out a deep breath. “Well,” he thought “that was unexpected.”