From his reclined seat position, the delivery van driver’s drowsy eyes widened with the realization that he had run a red light.  Intuitively, he quickly sat up and gripped the steering wheel.  “Fuck!” he screamed, as two cars broadsided his vehicle.  He felt his sweaty hands slip off the wheel just as he glimpsed the fast-approaching, traffic light pole.

“Killed in a bread delivery truck,” flitted through his mind, as his seat launched his body backward, head first along the aisle of locked-in shelves.  Creating the illusion of a hallucinatory dream, plastic encased bread loaves flew every which way accompanying him on his flight to the back of the van.  He breathed in the odor of freshly baked bread that permeated the cloud of plastic encasing and sticking to his body.  Groggily, he murmured, “Stinkin’ bread…,” before losing consciousness.

Hazily peering under slowly opening eyelids, he recognized the searching faces of both of his middle-aged parents looming just inches away from his face.

“At least he’s alive,” he heard his Dad say to his Mom.

While she clasped one of her son’s hands to her chest, she said over and over in a gentle sing song voice, “Robbie…wake up….”

Groaning and slowly mumbling, “Dad.  Mom.  Get out of my face.”  Their son began pushing them away.

The young man’s parents straightened up from bending over their son’s hospital bed.  Heaving a sigh of relief, they looked meaningfully at each other knowing what they would have to tell him once he left the hospital.  His recovery in the hospital was routine; he had had a concussion, some strains and contusions.  The only visits and phone messages he received were from his parents, except one phone message from his girlfriend yelling, “I’m sick of you being irresponsible and losing yet another job.  I dropped off your stuff at your parents.  Do not call me…Ever!”  He noted that none of his so-called friends bothered to call him and no one returned his texts.

A few days later, his parents picked him up along with the doctor’s instructions for his recovery at home.  He collapsed, exhausted in his childhood bedroom.  Two years ago when he was twenty, he moved in with his girlfriend expecting he would never return to live with his parents.  Staring at the ceiling with its painted stars and moon, he glumly reflected on the news from his employer that he was not welcome back to work.  He could replace the girlfriend, but that job had been hard to get.

“Bong.  Bong.  Bonggg…,” rang Mom’s bronze dinner bell.  The sound of that bell and being in this room again made him feel annoyed and tense.  When he lived at home, their lectures usually happened at the dinner table.  They always reminded him that he was their only child and still not in college.

The aroma of food at the dinner table helped him relax a bit from his tense expectation of a forthcoming lecture.  His mother’s posture clued him in that she would initiate their usual “Go To School” script.

“Rob, what are your plans?” said his Mom as she handed him a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Page one excerpt from Road Noise Short Stories To Thrill and Chill  2016 © Belinda A. Allen

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