Quick Fiction No. 6: Retirement Plan

 Here’s a quick story I wrote using a story prompt shared on our Cypress Knee MUSH forums:   

Gillum Swayze clutched the steering wheel of the leased Kenworth with beefy, tattooed hands.

The 18-wheeler churned west on Interstate 40 through snow-glittered darkness. Barring mishaps, he’d make it to Knoxville before morning rush with the shipment of toys bound for the distribution center.

Limbaugh blustered on the satellite radio. The trucker didn’t much care for the blowhard AI talk-show host. In fact, Gillum actively despised the pill-popping hypocrite. But it kept his attention late at night, working in tandem with the caffeine to keep him awake and focused behind the wheel.

He’d been at this gig for twenty years, starting before the Orange Horror. Back when the seasons weren’t so damned skewed. Back when St. Augustine hadn’t been the new Atlantis.

Every once in a while, he thought about retiring. He’d be seventy-six in August, only four years shy of early retirement age. He wasn’t sure what to do instead. He’d been a mechanic before, but the robots had that market nailed down.

“How do you take it?” Essex Patterson had asked over coffee at the Flying J outside Greensboro. Young trucker, on the road about four years now, but calling it quits. “I miss my family too damned much.”

Family. Gillum had taken a healthy gulp of black coffee through the silence. Shrugged. He hadn’t heard from his ex-wife or three daughters since that night he mixed meth and cocaine – after promising not to do that again the first three times – and tried to beat them all to death with a pink wiffle bat.

He’d bruised them. That’s all. Maureen, though, had clocked him upside the head with a Ruger pistol and shot him in the left leg. Self-defense, she told the jury. He’d spent six years at Florida State Prison for his trouble.

Rush rumbled something about immigrants. Gillum wiped away an ambitious tear before it got its big break.

Never even met his grandkids. They wouldn’t even take his Facebook friend requests.

The dashboard thermometer read: 29 degrees. Warm for Fourth of July these days.

He almost didn’t see the Tesla broken down in the right lane. No emergency blinkers. Not even brake lights. Just the steady reddies.

Gillum jerked the wheel hard left – he didn’t have the space to brake safely, all he could hope to do was swerve, but even this had its risks.

The loaded trailer swung behind the semi, a rearward amplification known as the “crack-the-whip” effect.

“Shit,” the trucker growled as he felt a shudder and tilt as the Kenworth’s right wheels left the surface of the highway.

Limbaugh warned that the foreigners wanted all our jobs.

The truck’s horn wailed. Metal shrieked along icy asphalt. The roof crushed inward.

Gillum Swayze retired early after all.

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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