Erratic Cycles

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CHARLES DEAN Webster, attorney at law, sat very still in his '89 Toyota Tercel, frustrated over his predicament. Something - he had no idea what - had happened to his car. First there had been smoking and hissing and then the car had stopped running. That was the extent of his knowledge about what was wrong with his car. He was a lawyer, not a mechanic.

Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a mechanic.

He looked at his watch, taking his eyes off of the forest for only a very short time. It was a quarter past nine. As he lifted his head to look down the barren stretch of Highway 144, he caught the glare of the setting sun in his rearview mirror.


He slammed a fist against the dash and then sat back once more and stared out the bug splattered windshield at the deserted highway.

Why me? he asked, and was quick to find an answer.

Why not you?

This was going to be your big case, your first major success, your big break. This was going to be the case that not only brought you a handsome sum but spread your name across the country. After winning this one, you were finally going to be someone.

So why not you? If you continue to believe such stupid glorified dreams, then why not you? Face the facts, schmuck: This is just another case.

And, being just another case, it had been nothing but a pain in the ass from day one. Getting stranded on a lonely highway somewhere between Sudbury and Timmins was just par for the course.

He looked at his watch again, but only a minute had passed since he'd last checked it. His eyes quickly returned to the wall of forest which ran never-ending along both sides of the highway. He couldn't shake the feeling that something was watching him from the forest.

No, not something, he corrected himself.

The Bush People.

He shuddered at that thought and considered turning on the radio to help alleviate his mood; but he was afraid that it would kill the battery. And he needed the battery in order for the hazard lights to keep working? Didn't he?

Dammit, it always came back to that, didn't it?

He hated the fact that he knew nothing much about how a car worked. But that had been his father's profession, not his.

When he was still young - very young - he'd watched his father closely. Anthony Webster would come home from the garage and spend as long as twenty minutes washing his hands and never really getting them clean. The tracks of his fingerprints were a permanent resting place for the grease and oil of his livelihood. Then, after supper, he would sit down in the living room with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other and grumble about inflation, taxes and the latest antics of the Toronto Maple Leafs. And the next day the cycle would repeat: Work, a vain attempt to wash away the residue of that work, and when that failed, a cleansing of the soul with beer and bitching.

Charles loved and respected his father who had never been anything but reliable and supportive. He'd always provided his only son with everything he could afford to give him and only once had he raised a hand to him - but in retrospect, Charles had deserved that quick slap after having verbally assaulted his mother in a typical teenager/mother argument. Anthony Webster was as close to the perfect father as any man could be.

But the last thing that Charles wanted was to be like him. He could never lead such a mundane existence. Charles wanted more than just money and a career. He wanted an exciting and fulfilling lifestyle. He didn't want his father's life of broken car after broken car - every day slaving over someone else's troubles and ultimately getting nowhere in life.

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