Ride Share

Liam waited outside Bellamy’s. The Uber app told him his ride ‘Danny’ would be arriving in two minutes. It couldn’t be soon enough for him. At least the weather was good, and he’d had a good lunch. You couldn’t say J.J. was cheap, anyway. He glanced behind him. J.J. was still inside – probably in the men’s room. Just as well. The less conversation, the better. Liam glanced down at his right hand to be sure the brown sling bag he carried was zipped up. He didn’t want to lose any of the twenty thousand dollars J.J. had passed to him.

He didn’t have time to do anything else before he saw the dark blue Toyota Camry coming slowly down the street. When it pulled close, Liam checked for the ‘Uber’ sticker and then slid into the back seat. ‘Hi’ he said as the door closed.
‘Hey,’ Danny half-smiled into the rearview mirror. He started the car. ‘Ramona, right?’
‘Yeah, Riviera Oaks.’
Danny nodded and set his GPS.

The two men were silent for a few minutes as they left Escondido and headed for Route 78. Liam looked out the window at the flow of traffic. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad. He’d be out of town pretty quickly. He patted the sling bag next to him. It wasn’t time yet, but he’d be ready when it was. He looked around him at the car. It looked to be in good shape – just the sort of car he’d hoped for. Camrys didn’t attract a lot of attention. He’d left his own car at home, so it couldn’t link him to anything. He wouldn’t be able to keep the Camry long, but for now, it served his purpose.

Just then, Danny spoke up. ‘You been to Ramona before?’
‘Me? No. Just visiting someone.’
Danny nodded. He understood. ‘I hope you have a good time.’
‘Yeah, thanks.’
‘She must be special for you to drive out there to see her.’
Liam let Danny think what he wanted to think. He shrugged and grinned. He thought of Marty, waiting for him at the hotel. Yeah, not the sort of date Danny had in mind. This time, though, it wouldn’t be like always. Liam had twenty grand and a little time. J.J. and Marty could find another flunky from now on.
Danny blinked a few times. ‘Yeah, well, be careful anyway. Women – you gotta watch out for them.’
Liam couldn’t resist. ‘Sounds like you know.’
‘You could say.’ He paused and then repeated himself. ‘Yeah, you could say.’

In spite of himself, Liam was curious. Besides, he needed to be on Danny’s good side for now. ‘Trouble?’
‘Rough time, yeah.’
Liam waited for Danny to continue. It didn’t take long. ‘My girlfriend – her name’s Stephanie – and I were supposed to get married next month. What do I find when I get home yesterday? She was with this guy she works with. Can you believe it?’
‘Oh, man!’ was all Liam could think of to say.
‘We had a big fight, and she took off.’ Danny shook his head.

By now they’d left Escondido and were passing signs for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. ‘Ever been?’ Danny jerked his head towards the signs. ‘Stephanie and I used to go sometimes.’
‘Nah, never had the time.’ Liam thought about doing it here. No, too many people. He’d wait for a better place. Someplace where he wouldn’t be seen. He didn’t have that much time, though. He’d have to do something soon.

The road started to narrow a little as they headed through the farm country just east of the Safari Park. Now was the time, Liam decided. He reached into his sling bag and pulled out his gun. ‘Pull over!’ he growled.
Danny stared into the rearview mirror. ‘What the hell?’
‘You heard me. I said pull over!’
Danny turned around for a second. ‘You’re serious?’
‘You think I’m kidding?’ Liam looked for a second at Danny’s pale face and saw the way his fingers gripped the steering wheel. No, he didn’t think Liam was kidding. Good, this would be over soon, and Liam would be on his way.

Then, Liam felt the car start to go faster. He glanced out the window. The scenery was starting to speed by. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ he yelled. ‘I said pull over!’ The car sped up more. ‘Hey, didn’t you hear me?”
Danny looked at Liam through the mirror. ‘I heard you.’
‘Then stop the car!’
‘You don’t get it, do you?’
‘Get what? What is there to get? I said stop the car!’ Liam pushed the barrel of his gun against the back of Danny’s neck.

All of a sudden, Liam was pushed back against his seat as the car jolted forward. Danny drove faster and faster along San Pasqual Valley Road as Liam groped for the gun that had slipped out of his hand. He found it in a second or two and pointed it at Danny again. ‘You’re crazy, you know that? Stop the fucking car!’
Danny stared ahead of him as the car kept careening along the narrow, winding road. His face was still white, but he seemed almost calm.

The car veered towards the edge of the road. Liam looked down at the sickening drop on the other side of the guardrail. ‘You’re going to kill us!’ he shouted.
‘Not me.’ Danny shook his head. ‘It’s Stephanie’s fault. She knew I’d die without her. I told her she couldn’t leave me. I was going to do this after I dropped you off, but you were going to kill me anyway, so why not do it now? I told you, you can’t trust ‘em!’ He let go of the steering wheel. He closed his eyes and Liam screamed as the car hurtled through the barrier and down into the canyon below.


NOTE: This story was inspired by Donald Honig’s short story Come Ride With Me. If you ever get a chance to read it, I recommend it.

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