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The One That Got Away
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The One That Got Away
Mark has a weird experience after a night of memories and heavy drinking.
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The One That Got Away
As Mark left the bar, he did the standard check to see if he had everything. It was the type of self-pat-down that you hope other people understand, otherwise it just looks like you're feeling yourself up: wallet, check; keys, check; hot girl's phone number hastily jotted on a napkin, check. Mark just wanted to get home so he could slam into bed and sleep for that following day.
As he stepped onto the street, the curtain of warm bar air that extends into the street was pulled back, and the cool spring air smacked Mark right in the face. It would have been refreshing on any normal night, but mark was the type of guy that gets condition sensitive when he drinks. Plus, he had lost his jacket somewhere in the night.
Mark fumbled his way to the car. Complicating matters were the large puddles that had collected in the gravel parking lot where he had parked. After skipping over a few of them, and stepping in more of them, he made it to his car. It took Mark more than a minute to get the keys to open the car. He blamed them and the person who designed them. He thought to himself that if he had designed keys, they would be magnetic and slide right into the hole.
Mark looked back over his car. It almost made his heart skip a beat when he did. Some men say that they love their cars, but with Mark, it almost wasn't hyperbole. Mark was one of the lucky few that owned the car of their dreams; a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. He had rebuilt the car from a scrap yard refugee. He brought back the Competition Suspension, had over 300 ponies waiting under the hood, and he could bounce through the four speed with enough bravado to make anyone forget about even asking for a fifth gear. The car was the best thing about Mark.
Mark waited a few minutes at the car. He put his head forward onto the steering wheel. He looked from side to side with the simple motion of pivoting his head on the wheel. He wasn't looking for anything in particular, but he realized that the rubber of his steering wheel hurt his head as he rolled it.
Mark remembered the biggest fish he had ever caught. He was ten years old. He was standing at the edge of a pond at a friend of his dad's. There was a bunch of people at a fishing party, all trying to catch dinner. With hundred-dollar poles, these fishing experts were making the fish pay for swimming near their lures. But Mark had out shined them all. With his little Mickey Mouse pole, standing on a chair, Mark forgot about the chair, at the edge of the pond, he pulled in the largest bass of the night. Mark had to fight it and his dad the whole time. He fought the fish to shore, and he fought his dad to let him do it on his own. He was leaning so far out over the chair, that he would have fallen in if his dad hadn't held it there. Once Mark got that fish in, he was the talk of the party. Little Mark had pulled in a three pound, thirteen inch large mouth bass. All the real fishermen were very jealous, at least that's what his dad said. His father was the proudest, though, because Mark was his kid. In the end though Mark didn't get to eat the fish.
Mark sat up from the wheel. He looked in the mirror and tried to rub away the indentation he had on his head from the steering wheel. It was all red and smooth. Mark wondered how long he had been passed out. Then he wondered if he really had passed out. He could remember what he was just thinking about, the fish story, but he couldn't remember passing out. No big deal, thought Mark. He decided that he should just get home and put himself to sleep.
He started the car, put it into reverse, and carefully backed out of the parking lot. It took a little while, seeing as how the parking lot was extra crowed. Mark decided that since he had successfully navigated the parking lot, making it home should be a breeze. He pulled onto the street and started to slowly make his way home. He thought back to the recollection he had just had. He hadn't thought about that fishing day in forever.
Mark had been standing on the edge of the dock with his younger brother and dad all afternoon. They had been fishing for blue gill. Mark had definitely caught one too. He remembered his dad saying something about watching the bobber, which mark had said he was doing, even though he wasn't. Just then, Mark had the pole ripped out of his hands. He was screaming for his dad to do something, which he was. His dad was taking off his shirt, watch, socks and shoes, and removing his wallet. Just like that his father was in the water, reaching down and grabbing the little Mickey Mouse pole from the bottom of the Wisconsin river. All Mark could do was jump up and down on the dock like a screaming idiot while his dad saved the day. it was at that point that Mark's priorities fell in line. Instead of him wanting everything to go back to the way it was, his pole in his hand, he suddenly wanted to fish in a more heroic way. Mark began screaming for his dad to let him reel in the fish.
Shit! Mark fell back into the here-and-now with a flash of fear. He had been driving the whole time, but he couldn't remember any of it. He assured himself that he hadn't blacked out, but he also knew he hadn't been paying an ounce of attention to the road. It was weird that Mark could be so distracted by his thoughts. He remembered that all through high school he would read a rather difficult book, be reading it, thinking about something else entirely, yet still move across the page. He'd look back on what he had just read and remember none of it.
He had done something like that now. He had been driving like some sort of zombie. He had even made two correct turns somewhere in there, because he was almost home. Mark marveled at himself that he could devote so little of his attention to driving and still do fine. As Mark turned into his driveway, he noticed that the light above his garage was a lot brighter than usual. Mark simply chalked this up to his slightly inebriated state. He got out of his car and walked to the light. It was when he turned to go into his house that he noticed something strange was going on. The light on the garage had moved. It was now directly in front of him. Mark felt scared for a second. The light then seemed not to be coming from some fixture on his house. It seemed to be coming from down the block, yet stretching all the way to him.
Mark made one more one-eighty, and then was sure something was wrong. The light was still in front of him. Plus, now there seemed to be a warmth coming from it. Mark started to feel more scared. As he spun, the light source spun with him. He passed out then and there.
On the corner of Main street and Parker drive, the police were using the jaws of life. Some asshole had driven his car into the corner of Jenkin's Bank and Trust. The impact had been so severe that the driver's head rested on the corner of the building. One of the firemen had a hard time cutting the door off. Not because of the accident, but because he thought the car didn't deserve it. He had always wanted a Ford Mustang Mach 1. The fireman remarked that the biggest loss here was not the stupid drunk, but rather the car he had destroyed.
The front end had wrapped itself around the corner of the building so much, it almost looked like it was supposed to be there. In a lighter situation, someone might have made the comment that it looks like those theme restaurants that build cars into their walls. Restaurants don't normally have corpses in them though.
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© 2001 Matt Tracy
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