A lot of bad happened to Jimmy in a short amount of time that led to his walk on that lonely, dark road. He didn’t have a destination in mind, other than a fresh start, wherever that may be. After his wife had a miscarraige, his whole world broke down drastically and turned to absolute shit. His drinking amplified, which led to physical altercations with his wife, an arrest, and a pink slip from the factory where he worked. A court ordered stint at a sober living facility was short lived due to his continued drinking.
As Jimmy walked the desolate road, he pondered the decisions and events that led him to where he was at that very moment. This frustrated and further depressed him. He wanted nothing more than to jump in front of the next set of headlights that sped by. However, the lack of cars on this stretch of road made that plan highly unfeasible. Jimmy knew that he was damaged and would never be a pleasant memory in anyone’s mind. He just didn’t see the point in going on living. He thought, maybe there will be a rocky ravine up ahead. Then I could just disappear, and never be found. That thought alone was enough for him to take faster and wider strides toward the darkness in front of him.
A car could be heard approaching from behind and the landscape in front of him became illuminated. The vehicle slowed and pulled next to Jimmy.
“Hey there friend. Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I’m good.”
“There’s nothing out here for miles. Get in and I’ll take you closer to where you need to be.”
“Really, I’m fine. Go on.”
“Nonsense. Get in. I insist.”
Jimmy reluctantly got in the car with the stranger. Jimmy thought, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe he’ll be a serial killer, and do the hard work for me.
“My name is Carl,” the driver said, with his hand extended.
“Jimmy,” he responded, as he shook Carl’s hand.
“Where are you headed?” Carl asked.
Jimmy remained looking forward, and said, “West.”
“Ok. West is pretty vague, but I can get you a little closer in that direction.”
They rode in silence for the good part of an hour, when Carl pulled into a gas station.
“Need to fuel up. You need anything?” Carl asked, as he got out of the car.
“No, I’m good.”
Carl went into the store and returned with a six pack of beer and a pint of whiskey. He opened the passenger door and handed the items to Jimmy.
“Here. It looks like you need this.”
Carl began fueling the car as Jimmy opened and turned up the pint. The entire pint and one of the beers were emptied by the time Carl got back in the driver’s seat.
“Wow. You don’t waste any time do you? I knew you needed a drink.”
“Yeah, thanks. You have no idea.”
As the two were back on the road, the alcohol allowed Jimmy to open up a little about what had recently transpired in his life. Carl reminded Jimmy that life had a way of being shit sometimes, but it could always be worse, and that there was a good chance that it would get better. Jimmy wasn’t in the mood for a pep talk. He just sighed and continued on the beer. Carl told Jimmy about a young woman in a purple dress that he gave a ride to recently on the same stretch of highway as him. How she was at the end of her rope as well, running from an abusive husband. However, by the end of the ride, he had her smiling and confident in her decision to leave and start anew.
“See. Sometimes you just need someone else to put it all in prospective for you,” Carl said in a comforting tone.
“I guess you’re right,” said Jimmy, as he contemplated what Carl said.
The horizon began to brighten, as Carl slowed and turned right into a closed restaurant. There were no cars in the parking lot, and most of the lights on the inside were off. Carl pulled around to the rear of the building near the back door.
“This is my buddy’s place. I make runs for him roughly two times a week. He’s not the most social guy. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t really talk. I just have to drop off a few supplies and we’ll be on our way. Come on in. I’ll see if he has anything ready yet.”
The two of them got out of the car and Carl knocked on the rear door. A short, fat man with greasy hair and sauce stains on his apron opened the door.
“Bubba. How’s it going? This is Jimmy. Can you fix him a couple of your famous sandwiches?”
Bubba grunted and gave a slight nod. Carl showed Jimmy to the counter in the front and pulled out a stool for him.
“Bubba has the best barbeque around. He’s been in the paper and even on the local news. Look at all these awards,” Carl said, as he pointed at framed pieces of paper above the counter.
Jimmy looked around, nodded, and said, “That is a lot. Smells good. I am pretty hungry.”
“Here it comes now. You’re going to love it. I have to get some items out of the car so he can open up in a few hours. Eat up.”
Bubba placed two huge barbecue sandwiches in front of Jimmy and he didn’t waste any time digging in ravenously. Through the order window, Jimmy watched as Bubba and Carl hauled bags of items into the kitchen and walk-in cooler. Carl poked his head through the square opening and said,
“Pretty good, heh?”
“You weren’t kidding. The meat is so tender and the sauce is the best I’ve ever had. Everything is terrific. I can see why he has all those awards.”
“I told you. Hey, when you get done, do you think you could help us move a pig from the cooler to the smoker?”
“Sure thing. I’m about done.”
Jimmy used his last bite of sandwich to sop up the remaining sauce on his plate and leaned back in his stool, full and content. He took his plate to the back and Bubba motioned for him to put it in the sink.
“Bubba, if I could give you another award for that meal, I would my man,” Jimmy said, as he patted his stomach.
Bubba let out an appreciative grunt, and shook his head in acknowledgement. Carl came through the back door with another bag, placed it on the counter and motioned for Jimmy to follow him to the cooler.
“It’s a big fucker. Might take all three of us,” Carl said as he opened the cooler door.
Jimmy entered the dark cooler and the door slammed behind him.
“Quit fucking around! Open the goddamn door!”
Jimmy beat on the door and continued yelling in the pitch-black cooler. Moments earlier Jimmy thought he wanted to die, but now his instinct of survival took over. He continued beating on the door to no avail. He started feeling faint and dizzy and staggered around the refrigerated death trap. Jimmy was losing consciousness and realized he must have been drugged. He located a pull string and a light illuminated the cooler. He couldn’t believe the horrific things he saw. Bags of body parts and buckets of blood surrounded him. Jimmy lost his footing and fell to the cold floor. Just before everything went black, he looked into the lifeless eyes of the girl in the purple dress.
That day during the lunch rush, a dad and his son, who were traveling through town, sat in a booth next to the door. They finished their meal, and the dad told the waitress that it was the best barbeque that they had ever eaten. Before leaving, he left a glowing review online.
Jimmy had made a lasting memory in someone’s mind after all.