Story by Matt Buckley 

Louis takes a bite of his sandwich and glances at the shifting crowd of pedestrians. His eyes linger on a red flowing dress for a moment before it takes a sharp turn down a side street. His expression, or lack thereof, never changes.

A crack rings out as something on the bottom of that Jeep smacks against a pothole. Louis glances calmly at the source of the sound. The car hums by and is forgotten moments later.

A few feet away the new guy, who has been the new guy for over a year, starts on the jackhammer. The noise fills the world. The crowd of faces glances nonchalantly at the sudden noise before a few moments pass and it becomes the new normal.

Louis drinks. He stands and walks away from the back of the truck, carrying his lunch break with him. He comes face to face with a distant reflection of himself against the bottom window of a building. His mind flashes instantly to three summers ago when he had first arrived in this once foreign city. It had been his mother that made him wear the yellow “America” shirt in celebration. Star-spangled tapestry flowing gloriously in the wind.

Louis remembers that excitement, how it once fueled him.

A moment later he is walking along the side of the truck and up to the driver’s side door. He reaches up and climbs into the small empty compartment.

The back of the truck is filled with used shovels and dusty spools of thick colored wire and somehow the front is more of a mess. The remains of last weeks lunch, or maybe the week before, lay trampled on the passenger side floor. The windshield is covered in something that will never be washed away, and creates a stale filter for the gloomy city sunlight to sift through.

“How do I look?” Gloria fixes her hair in the side mirror. She’s always doing that.

“Great.” Louis replies.

“At least look at me.”

“Gotta keep my eyes –”

“Screw off, the road’s not going anywhere.” She doubles her efforts in the side view, then shifts her attention to a different mirror. “You still wearing that shirt?” She asks, adjusting the rearview.

“My mother gave it to me.” Louis adjusts the mirror back.

Gloria stares at him, but Louis keeps his eyes on the road. Streetlights wiz by, breaking the speed limit.

Gloria flips the sun visor down, revealing a small reflection. “Never should have agreed to this.”

Louis tosses his sandwich wrapping to the floor of the empty passenger seat. Sips his Gatorade. Adjusts the mirror. Gloria’s blue shadowed eyes meet his reflection.

“Stop the car. We have no place to go.”

“We’ll stop when we get there.” Louis stares into the darkness, pretending to know what’s next. But the road continues on, flat and simple.

You can read more of Matt’s work, as well as catch up on his adventures on his website:


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