Better Late Than Never

Jake was racing down the interstate, trying to get to his own wedding, which, according to his dashboard clock, was to start in 5 minutes. His silver ’93 Toyota Camry sputtered in protest. ‘No, not now!’ Jake slammed his fist onto the steering wheel when the engine died off and the dashboard lights went out. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Jake kept repeating as he made his way over to the right shoulder, where he brought the car to a full stop. He turned his key in the ignition, but the car wouldn’t come back alive. He thought about Kelly, his bride-to-be, and when she reminded him to not overdo it with his buddies Tom and Christian, which was exactly what had happened last night. He hadn’t even been able to shake them both awake when he woke hungover just 15 minutes earlier, not that anyone would object to them not being there, especially not his wife or his mother-in-law. Fuzzy images from last night resurfaced as Jake frantically tried to get his car to start up again, but to no avail. He saw his clock tick even closer towards the deadline.

The expensive organ player they had hired would play some elegant songs until they were ready to march down the aisle. His massive fiancée’s family was probably all seated and ready to go, waiting for the groom to show up. Jake had no family what to speak of apart from Tom and Christian, his best friends since high-school. He had a few friends from work, who weren’t close enough for his in-laws’ liking, which meant they weren’t willing to pay to have more guests at the lavish event. Kelly’s father Charles (Chip for his friends) had made sure to constantly remind him how much he was spending for his daughter and told Jake to better appreciate it.

Jake couldn’t help but imagine the looks of disdain and Charles’ red face when he’d finally arrive. He turned the key once more and now the clicking sound of a drained, dead battery was the only sound coming from his engine. He’d have to call road-side help. He dropped his head on the steering wheel, then felt around the pockets of his suit. No phone. He must have left it at Christian’s place. He shouted another few expletives when a knock on the window to his left startled him. A bearded man with a baseball cap waved at him and Jake turned down the window. Jake must have not noticed that the man had stopped with his truck behind him.

“Hey, man, you doing alright?” the man asked. He looked to be about Jake’s age, but the beard made it hard to tell.
“I gotta be at my own wedding in,” Jake glanced at the dashboard clock “well, right about now and my car just died on me, I think last time I had her in the shop the mechanic said it’s the fuel pump. Now the battery is dead too. ”
“Oh damn, dude. How far is it?”
“It’s at Hill’s chapel.” Jake rubbed his forehead. His head felt like exploding. “Uh, maybe 10 minutes from here.”
“I got you man, I can give you a ride.” The man said and waved at Jake to follow him to his car. Jake grabbed his suit jacket from the passenger seat, got out, and followed the man into the truck.

Jake got in and the bearded man put his hand towards Jake.
“Brian.”
“Jake.”
“Nice to meet you Jake,” Bryan put his truck into gear, looked over his shoulder and accelerated onto the interstate.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” Jake said as he folded the visor down to quickly check out himself in the mirror.
“It’s cool, it’s kinda on my way anyway and I can’t let someone miss their own wedding.” Bryan smiled as he carefully navigated around an old station wagon. “Looks like you had a good time last night.”
“I think so,” Jake tried to force a laugh. Even with this lucky break, he was going to be in trouble. His stomach was in knots, just thinking about how Kelly would react.
Jake looked at himself in the mirror. He hadn’t shaved, and there was a pretty substantial bruise on his right cheek. He winced when he touched it and could not remember how he had gotten it.
Jake folded the mirror back up and let himself fall into the back of the seat. Playing on the radio was his favorite band. When he had suggested it for the playlist for the reception, Kelly had shot him down and had called it inappropriate. He loved the song.
“Would you mind dropping me off at the next exit?” Jake asked.
“Exit 25?” Bryan was confused. “That won’t get you to Hill’s Chapel. That’s two more exits away.”
Jake leaned back and closed his eyes.
“I know.”


I wrote this first draft for NaNoWriMo 2021 – 30 First Drafts

📷 Hungover Stuffed Animals by Miguel Tejada-Flores

🎼 B E N N – Synesthesya by kepasaparadoks.

🎼 Tekisse Music by Nammy Wams

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