by Zach Murphy
Heavy eyelids don’t adhere to will after you’ve just worked a double shift.
Zamir was having that problem on a particularly snowy night, so he pulled over to the side of a lonely road and threw the car into Park.
Holiday season was a drag. Zamir worked the frontlines during the massive influx of rabid shoppers pushing and shoving each other like football players diving for a fumbled ball, except the fumbled ball was an item that they could probably order online for the same cost and less hassle. And then there were the customers who were extremely rude to him at the cash register. They’d snap their fingers, roll their eyes, and talk condescendingly to him as if he didn’t understand English. Assholes transcend all language barriers, anyway.
As the snow continued to fall, Zamir drifted off into a deep sleep, only to be awakened by an aggressive knock on his window. He shook from a combination of his nerves and the freezing cold while frantically gathering himself, as he’d been lost in the kind of slumber that you wake up from and you can’t tell if it’s been a couple of minutes or a couple of hours.
Zamir cracked open the window with hesitation. The blowing flakes greeted his skin like a breathtaking slap to the face. A deep and raspy voice cut through the white, windy noise. “You need some help?” the person asked.
Zamir rubbed his eyes and mumbled, “I’m not drunk. I’m just tired.”
The person came into focus. It was a man with a puffy winter coat. His dark beard was speckled with snow and gray hairs. Zamir was somehow more relieved that it was a random stranger and not a police officer.
“This ain’t no way to spend Christmas Eve,” the man said.
“This is no way to spend any evening, but here I am,” Zamir answered.
“Tell me about it,” the man said. “I’ve been taking care of these roads non-stop for as long as I can remember. I’m DeWayne, by the way.”
Zamir glanced at the rearview mirror. Behind him was a big truck with a plow attached to the front. “I’m Zamir,” he said.
DeWayne peered ahead of Zamir’s car. “You’re stuck,” he said.
“I know,” Zamir replied. “I’ve been searching for a new job for the past two years and I’m having zero success. Even my degree doesn’t make a difference.”
“No,” DeWayne said. “I mean your car is stuck.”
Zamir shifted the car into Drive and tried to advance forward, but the wheels spun in place. “Oh shit,” he uttered.
“I’ll be right back,” DeWayne said as he trudged back to his truck and grabbed a pair of shovels.
DeWayne and Zamir shoveled the snow away from the car, hoisting the heavy white stuff around like a pair of mighty worker ants moving mounds of dirt. “Try it now,” DeWayne said.
Zamir hopped back into his car. He shifted it into Drive and gave it some gas. The tires trounced over the snow. “Thank you!” he graciously yelled, holding a thumbs-up out the window.
“Have a great night!” DeWayne shouted back.
During the long ride back to his apartment, Zamir thought about DeWayne, and how the man was some sort of guardian angel. A guardian angel who reeked of cigarettes and under-appreciated duty. Zamir was looking forward to eating leftover Thai food at home with his cats Mookie and Sudoku. He needed to fuel up and get some rest, because for the next double shift he’d have to deal with Returns.
About the Author:
Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in film and screenwriting. His stories have appeared in Peculiars Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, Fat Cat Magazine, Lotus-eater, WINK, Drunk Monkeys, and Ghost City Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly and loves cats and movies.