Road Trip

From Take Ten For Writers by Bonnie Neubauer

You’re on a long distance bus ride – you get on at the same stop as the person sitting next to you – you are positive you’ve never seen this person and never will again – you plan to not share your name or any other identifying information. Feeling confident that your secret will remain safe, you choose to confess something to this person

Start with – A while back

Use the words: Misunderstood, murder, memory, master plan, money

A while back, my life changed forever. I didn’t even think about what I had done until I was on the Greyhound bus to Wichita. A sweet old lady had gotten on with me in Omaha  and she reminded me so much of my dead grandmother, that I felt the need to tell her the truth. I couldn’t explain it, but the confession was on the tip of my tongue; I couldn’t just go blabbing my mouth off until I knew it was safe to talk to her, though. Noticing the beginnings of a tiny sweater on her knitting needles, I decided to strike up a benign conversation to see what I could learn about her.

“That’s really pretty,” I gushed, reverently caressing the ball of angora yarn that she put in the seat beside her.

“Thank you dear,” she beamed, “it’s for my little granddaughter. Her name is Josie and she’ll be two next week.”

“I see. Does she live in Wichita?”

“Oh no, dear, I’ve got to change buses there. I’m actually going on to Lawrence to stay for a little while. My daughter and son-in-law both work at Kansas State.”

I was relieved to know that I could unburden myself because I’d never see her again, but what was the best way to go about it? Deciding that I might as well just spill it, I started talking. “I’m glad you’ll get to be with her on her birthday. I’m not going that far. Just far enough  to get away from my problems.”

Grandma looked up and squinted at me, as if she couldn’t quite figure out how someone my age could have such serious issues.  “Are you alright, dear?” she asked, although I couldn’t tell if she was really concerned about me or if she was trying to figure out how best to defend herself with her knitting needles.

“Oh yeah,” I scoffed, “I’m fine. It’s my boss who isn’t. If he hadn’t been such a jackass, he wouldn’t be where he is now…” My voice trailed off as I lost myself in the memory of the day I made my life altering decision. My boss  had always been a jerk, but I hadn’t known how big a jerk until recently.

“My first instinct was to quit before he could put his master plan in place, but I couldn’t afford to go back on unemployment, so my only option was to confront him. I waited until everyone left for the night and that’s when I told him I knew he was plotting with the staff attorney to bilk our clients of their money.  I told him that if he went ahead with his plan, I would alert the clients and the police that he was committing fraud. Of course, he immediately told me that I misunderstood what I had heard, and when I insisted I hadn’t, he came on to me. He told me he could make it worth my while if I kept my mouth shut. Of course, he didn’t know I carry a gun until I pulled it on him.”

The clicking of Grandma’s knitting needles, which had punctuated my entire confession, suddenly stopped. She turned and looked at me without saying anything. Her mouth was slightly agape and her eyes were wide behind her bottle-thick glasses. When I realized how she had interpreted my story, I quickly explained myself. “What, do you think I meant that I committed murder?

She mutely nodded.

“Nah, I shot the bastard in the left kneecap and the right foot and left him lying on the floor of his office screaming and bleeding. I did call 911 before I left, but assault with a deadly weapon still lands you a couple of years in prison.”

I fell silent, feeling a sense of relief that I had gotten my transgressions off my chest. I didn’t regret what I had done, but somehow putting it into words made it easier to accept the abrupt change in direction my life had taken. Nothing would ever be the same now that I had to live  a life on the lam. As for Grandma? She never said another word, but started knitting so fast that the sweater was finished before we reached the state line.

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