I asked him if we had met before and I was somehow unaware of it. His reply was just as cryptic as everything else he’d said up to this point. “In a manner of speaking, yes. We’ve met before. It’s difficult to explain fully, but all things will work themselves out in time”.
I was quickly beginning to regret picking up this man. Initially I had wanted some company to keep me awake, but the way our conversation was headed was beginning to make me a bit uncomfortable. I was hoping for some generic small talk just to keep me awake and I figured that there was no harm in giving an old man a ride to where he needed to go as well. This man didn’t come across as though he wanted to cause me pain, only that he had something in mind for me and hadn’t felt the need to share it with me fully yet.
I pressed my right foot down, ever so slightly, and felt the steady increase of the engine’s speed as we accelerated. After the latest statement from him, I wasn’t feeling especially talkative and I focused on the dashed lines in the left corner of my peripheral vision as they passed more and more rapidly.
Minutes passed by and I’m assuming he could sense my unease. The car was silent. The only sounds were our breathing and the soft hum of the engine. Finally, after what felt like hours almost, he broke the silence with three words.
“Are you happy?”
I wasn’t quite sure how I should respond to this because I hadn’t been asked that particular question before. I was not an “open book”, I had no interest in sharing my feelings with people, especially a stranger that I had just picked up on the side of the road. I pretended to not hear him and stared straight ahead. I clenched my jaw until it began to ache. I gripped the steering wheel with both hands with so much force that my knuckles felt like they were cracking. I put all my effort into staring down the road ahead. As I made every effort to ignore him, I looked at the trees only partly illuminated by my high beams on either side of the road and then he asked again.
“Are you happy?”
I couldn’t ignore him the second time around. I turned my head only partly in his direction, refusing to look into his face. I could feel his eyes boring into me and awaiting an answer. I mumbled a response to him and he calmly told me that he couldn’t hear me.
I repeated myself but with more than just a single word.
“No, I suppose I’m not but why is that any of your business?”
“I’m only curious, friend. There was a time in my life that I was unhappy as well. One of my goals during our time together is to help you with this sadness you’re feeling.”
“During our time together? Sir, I plan on dropping you off where you need to go, and continuing on to my original destination. I don’t know how long you planned on us being together.”
“That’s the thing though. I didn’t tell you where I needed to go. I know where YOU are going and I know that you need some conversational accompaniment for this trip. I’m going where you’re going.”
See more of “THE RIDER” HERE.