Chapter 2

 

Stranded near the most remote stretch of freeway midpoint between Orange County and San Diego with only his duffle bag, Oliver was left with more questions than options. Who was that cab driver? Where did he come from? How did he know so much about Oliver? He looked back and forth between the freeway, still devoid of activity, and the simple dirt road that lead to an unknown wilderness. 

You’re an accountant. Take stock of the situation.

It was probably a half mile back to the freeway, and another mile or two to an emergency phone. Failing that, Oliver remembered the border checkpoint was approximately five miles north. Within a couple of hours, he could find some kind of assistance, report that a-hole of a cab driver and return to his home by late morning. It would be the wisest, most practical course of action with a clear and defined outcome worthy of the Well’s Family Formula. Then again, what was waiting for him there? No wife. No daughter. A pile of bills. A ton of debt. A boring, godforsaken job—assuming the firm even wanted him back. It all looked so pointless now, and Oliver was in no hurry to go back to it.

And what of the road less traveled? 

The very thought prompted a chuckle. Such a goddamn cliché. Answers, that’s what the crazy cab driver said he would find. And how would that happen? Oh right, I’d find the answers only if I traveled the road. Where does this road go? No way of knowing unless one travels it! Stupid cabbie. 

Oliver flirted with the prospect of walking the dirt road for just a short while. How far could it be before he discovered the big answer? Was there a car waiting for him out there? A drug cartel looking to kidnap him and use him as a mule? This farmer guy the cabbie spoke of? Maybe Oliver should walk it for a bit, and if he didn’t find anything within thirty minutes or so, he’d turn around and go back to the freeway. Why was he even thinking the dirt road was a viable option?

Because the cabbie knew things he shouldn’t have.

No, it’s a trick, Oliver reasoned. He got your credit card number somehow, looked up your records, scourged your social media accounts—everything. In this day and age, that is all too easy. 

But how did he know about the dream? That awful, terrible, glorious dream about a farmer you hadn’t dared tell anyone about? The dream that marked the day they both died! A dream he said others shared! How did he know these things?

One thing was for certain. In a matter of hours the sun would come up, and the brisk, cold evening air would be replaced with a biting summer heat.

It’s not worth it, thought Oliver. It’s not worth my life. 

Then again, what is my life worth?

Oliver had spent the last year traveling the world to find out. Here, he was told the answer lay at the end of a dirt road he could barely discern in the moonlight. 

What is my life worth? 

What is my life?

I’ll walk the path, he thought. If only for a little while. 

Oliver picked up his duffle bag, slung it over his shoulder, and headed down the dirt road.

(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

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