Spinning the Wheels (Flash Fiction)

I went out one afternoon on a hot day when the humidity suffocated all things and the sun drove those with semblance of sanity toward any hint of shade. Mosquitoes hovered about my head as I wandered into the marsh and swampland with no real reason or particular goal in mind. My clothing stuck to my skin like the mud to my boots, and I waded in. In the bog, in the forgotten corners of undesirability, I found a man in a dented and worn truck. It was a sun-washed green and I heard the engine groaning as I drew nearer. Clinging to a bald cypress tree wearing a thick coat of mass, I watched the man trying to break free from the bog.

At first it seemed he was making a good attempt at it, but as the minutes wore on, I came to see that no real effort was being made. His chin rested on his fist as he stared listlessly from his window into the distant nothing of the swamp around him. A small opening in the trees showed a dark cloud on the horizon that threatened rain and lighting and other such treacherous things, clearly concerns that would make his escape all the more difficult, but still no concern grew on his face. He’d put his foot into the pedal and the truck would groan and struggle in the mud, but his face never changed. It always held the dull, blank stare that looked off into the distance.

I took care to come closer without being seen so that I may watch this peculiar man. His skin, pink from being in the sun, was glossy with sweat, and mosquitoes feasted on his arm, cheeks and neck. The only movement he made came from the truck rumbling beneath him, shaking the fist supporting his head and jiggling his jowls of his aged face. Always, his eyes were toward that narrowing opening, toward the coming storm. He paid no attention to the truck becoming more entrenched. He seemed not to care for the wisps of steam escaping from under the hood. With each futile push on the throttle, the truck would roar and lurch and fling the watery mud dozens of feet into the sky, but at no point did he pay any mind. He never looked around. He never saw me.

As the storm closed in around us, I took pointless shelter and watched him. A sadness seem to come then, as the light was blocked and the darkness of his known doom arrived. The rain fell in fat drops and the sky rumbled with power. It was then that the truck began to gurgle in the bog, the exhaust now sinking below the waterline. The sky cracked with lightning and water fell in torrents, consuming the world around us, surging into the swampland like a pulse shooting through an artery, and it was only then that the man took his head into his heads and appreciated his dismay. He forced the throttle down in a vain attempt to finally break free, but it was too late. The chance for freedom had passed. His chance for escape from the bog had been squandered while he wasted the hours away spinning his wheels.

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