December 4th – Had the map changed, or had he read it wrong to begin with?
He was lost.
There was no escaping the fact. It was dark, it was raining, and if nowhere had a middle, he was in it. Except nowhere wasn’t marked on his map.
Obviously, he could have paid extra for a satnav. And he would have done, except $30 seemed a lot at the time, and it was only a couple of hours away. Or it should have been. And, besides, he had a map. A proper, old-school, fold-up-fold-out map. With things marked on it. Places. Including the place that he should have been at 2 hours ago.
He should have been in the bar, now, with a drink, and with her.
He wasn’t. He wasn’t anywhere.
The map was spread on the passenger seat. He’d turned it round more than once, looking for up, looking for right, looking for any sort of direction at all.
Of course his phone was dead. How could it be anything else. It wouldn’t have been, if had had been anywhere near where he should have been. It would be charging. He would be connected. But he wasn’t. He was here, disconnected. With a map that was obviously wrong.
He’d planned it all so carefully. He knew the turns, or he thought he did. There weren’t that many roads, for Christ’s sake.
Would she still be there? Would she wait? He didn’t even know where there was, ad he didn’t know where here was, and getting there from here was unlikely. All he could do was drive.
So he drove. He took turns based on intuition, on luck, on a left-left-right-right pattern, and then the other way. There was nothing. The map stayed spread on the passenger seat. The rain stayed heavy.
Then, in the distance, lights. Lights of a building, of a motel, of a car, two cars, passing.
There was a light on in reception. There was neon light in the bar: open.
For a drink, or for her?
He got out of the car. He spread the map above his head as he ran for the door. Useful at last.
Inspired by a prompt from here