WRITING PROMPT: Murphy’s Law

Man In Car On Phone

Photo: Alexandre Boucher

The writing prompt for this story is ‘What’s the worst that could happen? Well, you’re about to find out.’

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What’s the worst that could happen? Especially seeing how the question’s about driving out to buy a six-pack. Granted, your girlfriend told you to stay home, because she’s on her way, doesn’t have the keys, and her phone’s dying.

But it’s just a two-minute drive, and the shakes are coming on, which also means you’re within the legal limit to drive. Get in, get out, enjoy a few cans of beer. Really, what’s the worst that could happen?

You pull out of the driveway with only one thing in mind. You picture gulping the cold beer—you’d much rather have vodka, but this particular store only stocks up on beer—and feeling the comforting burn in your chest. You floor the gas, because all that thinking is making this short drive seem like a cross-country trip.

You see a roadblock, and your heart skips a couple of beats, but the disinterested officer just waves you along. You speed away, already working out an alternate path home.

All that time spent in our own head means less time focusing on the road, and your car suddenly tilts sideways, like you’ve just rolled over a curb. An accompanying howl sends chills down your spine. What the fuck?

The store’s up ahead, so you decide to park first, then see what you’d hit. You check the rear-view mirror and notice a commotion. Did you actually hit a person? You promise to return and sort everything out later. You’re not a bad person, you think, you just need a drink.

You pull up to the store, and you see the cashier stepping outside to look at the fuss that’s happening. He gives you a sideways stare, and you’re not sure if he saw the whole thing.

Your phone vibrates, and the only people who ever call you these days are the debt collectors and your girlfriend. You don’t have time to entertain either of them, so you continue your beeline towards the refrigerator and grab some cold ones.

You tap the glass door to get the nosy cashier’s attention. One can finds its way into your hand by the time he sees you, and you empty it by the time the asshole steps behind the cashier. You feel much better after the drink, but the look he’s giving you sets you on edge again.

He reluctantly rings in your purchase, and you throw him a tenner without waiting for your change. Right then, someone barges in through the glass door, looks around, then points towards you. The officer beside her speaks into his radio. Something about an Asian male with sleeve tattoos. You realise that’s you.

You feel someone pulling your shirt, and it’s the fucking cashier. He doesn’t see your strike coming and drops like a sack of potatoes once your elbow finds its home. People start shouting and chaos begins to reign. The officer makes his way towards you, and you run down a neighbouring aisle, thrusting the witness aside as you fly out the door.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, what did you do?

Maybe they didn’t get a good look of your face, and maybe they didn’t see your car plate yet, so escaping seems like a valid option. You peel away from the parking lot, leaving behind a cloud of smoke and burnt rubber.

Another drink sounds good, so you crack one open, as your phone vibrates again. You figure that listening to a familiar voice would be good, so you answer it. “Where the fuck are you?” On second thought, you decide you don’t want to talk and hang up.

The sirens never seem to fade, even as you swerve down your street. Maybe if you could make it inside the garage in time, you might be able to lose the cops.

The car jolts and rumbles as you run over the sidewalk towards the garage. Your girlfriend appears out of nowhere, and you watch as the anger on her face turns into surprise, then fear.

This moment seems to drag on forever as you watch her crumple against your hood, then the windshield. You’re not sure if the final bang was from her body or the garage door. The sirens that never faded rings louder now.

You hear shouting, and you feel hands wresting you to the ground, but your gaze never leaves the hood of your car, and the person you used to know splayed lifeless across it.

What’s the worst that could happen? You tie your prison jumpsuit into the top rung of your cell bars. “Not this,” you say aloud, as you stick your head into the loop and slowly let go.

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