Driving to the gym in his recently paid off Audi, Mickey Neil tapped his index fingers on the steering wheel in time to some classic Fleetwood Mac on the radio, but he wasn’t listening. Instead, his mind was occupied lately wondering how fate and all its twisted reasoning had delivered him to this very moment. And of course, he couldn’t help but pass judgment on the outcomes.
He just turned 46 and despite his lack of car payments, fate had delivered mostly negative events; or at least that was his current perception, perhaps influenced by the most recent “news” from his daughter, Michelle.
He steered the Audi past the busy coffee shop, whose disordered drive-thru line curved out of the parking lot all-together. He felt some faint sense of achievement for resisting his caffeine urge as he took his finger off the turn-signal. Although, in the past, he had frequently sat amidst that same disordered drive-thru waiting for his grande mocha latte. Ten minutes to acquire it, eight minutes to devour it. These inconsistent numbers had him questioning his self-control.
He returned to his musings as he continued past the strip mall, past the golf course, past the half-developed lot whose peeling billboard towered over the prairie dog mounds below. This morning he was more fixated on the news he received last week, that Michelle had dropped out of her 2nd year of college and would be moving back in with him indefinitely. This was also the first phone call where he realized that his tens of thousands of tuition dollars were being squandered on frat parties and hungover Wednesday morning calculus classes. Of course, her unexpected pregnancy was just the cherry on top. He started predicting the next few years: the baby would cry all night, a car seat would install itself in his recently-paid-off Audi, his home cinema would turn into a Sponge-Bob Squarepants viewing facility.
How did he end up here, and why him?
He thought about the spur-of-the-moment party he attended in college, the young brunette with high cheekbones that he met there, their involuntary marriage, the high paying job working for her father, the two planned-unwanted, children, the messy divorce, the financial difficulties – none of which would have happened if Joey-the-keg-killer hadn’t nudged him toward his would-be wife.
He blinked a few times, coming back from his musing to feel the surprise acceleration of his Audi toward a red light. His foot instinctively slammed on the brake but it was too late. He had been too busy listing the events that had derailed his ambitions and his dreams, all those random events over which he had little-to-no control.