It’s Fandango’s Flashback Friday! This little story was originally written for MindloveMisery’s Menagerie in 2018. And here it is again.
A cackle of hyenas feasted off fresh carrion near the shoulder of Route 66. Turkey vultures circled high above in the Arizona sky, waiting their turn. Occasionally, one would squawk as if to remind the hyenas that the committee was hungry, too. The hyenas couldn’t have cared less, although the larger, dominant leader glanced up with a vociferous growl.
A few miles west at a self-serve car wash, Tyler Vance was feverishly spraying the blood and guts from the grill of his Chrysler with cold water. The temperature regulator wasn’t working and there was no one there (luckily!) to ask. At least there was plenty of soap.
He’d hit the brakes and swerved when he saw the old man in the road, but it was too late. The old guy’d been killed on impact. Tyler shuddered as he recalled the look of shock on the old man’s face as he bounced around on the hood, his face nearly touching the windshield. Luckily, he was so frail that damage to Tyler’s car was minimal.
What was an old fart like that doing in the middle of Route 66, anyway? And where in the hell had he come from?
Taylor wrestled with the idea of calling the police, but who needed the hassle? Plus, they might detain him and what if there was a trial? He had to be in LA tomorrow for a photo shoot. Nobody saw the accident. Screw it. He was in the clear.
Satisfied that all traces of blood and guts were washed from his vehicle, Tyler resumed his journey to LA.
After twenty or so miles down the road, Tyler spotted a hitchhiker. Getting bored with no one to talk to, and scenes of the accident playing through his mind, Tyler welcomed the company. He pulled over and rolled the passenger-side window down.
“Where ya goin’?”
“San Francisco?” The hitchhiker responded — an aging hippie wearing a faded purple tie-dyed t-shirt, frayed bellbottom jeans and worn huarache sandals. His grey hair reached to the middle of his back.
“I can take you as far as LA.”
“Cool!” He opened the door and tossed his backpack in the back seat. “Name’s Harry.” He offered his hand to Tyler.
They drove west chit-chatting about this and that. Finally, Tyler asked what Harry did for a living.
“I’m a Chiromancer,” he replied with a nuanced grin that Tyler couldn’t quite read.
“Palm reader. I tell people’s fortune’s by the lines of their hands.”
“Ah!” Tyler grinned and raised an eyebrow. “Okay…”
“Oh, nothing!” Tyler explained. “It’s just that I’ve never been one for that hocus-pocus magic stuff.”
“To each his own. All I know is that it’s put food on my table for the past thirty years.”
“Pull over,” Harry said. “I’ll give you a quick reading.”
“Okay,” Tyler shrugged. This’ll be good for a few laughs.
He stopped the car on the side of the road and offered Harry his palm.
Harry studied it, gently tracing the lines of Tyler’s palm with his finger. “Hmm….”
“What?” Tyler asked. “What do you see?”
“I see you’ve got blood on your hands. My father’s blood.”
Tyler’s face went pale. He tried to swallow but his mouth was dry.
In the rear view mirror, Tyler saw the flashing red lights of several squad cars as they pulled up, sirens blaring.