He had only been driving for a minute before he came to a stop again. The road in front of him looked like a series of red lights. He again read the address on the paper and felt he needed another 15 - 20 minutes to reach the place if the traffic felt smooth. He had been to that same place a few weeks back. The fourth exit and then second right from where he was, would take him to a lonely stretch. A mile on that road and he would be at the place. He still had about 25 minutes but the traffic in front concerned him.
Though it was the shortest route, he always wanted to avoid this road due to the crawling traffic. But it was only now that he realized he’d been counting on it. He looked at the square box next to him. He had to deliver it to the address on the paper and he had to do it in the next 25 minutes. It suddenly looked like the world was trying to stop him from doing it and it frightened him more. He decided to take the first exit he reached and then make through the smaller road to that lonely road. That first exit was on his immediate right and he was already ahead of it by a few feet. Without wasting any time he took a sharp risky turn barely missing the concrete wall and tried to join the exit lane. A ticket was sure, if a cop had caught him in the act. He could sense the anger of the drivers from all the honking cars around him but this “had to do” situation had left him with no option. He drove fast to smoothly merge into the exiting traffic. His noisy rattling car had carried well. Again he started driving in the direction of the address and this time it was better, he was moving.
He drove for the next few minutes and the road seemed to be becoming lonelier. He wasn’t sure whether he had already reached or was yet to reach somewhere near, where the fourth exit would take him. The highway was no where in sight but he felt he was still in the right direction. He had never done this road before. The only part of the road he could see was lit by his car lights. Every thing was pitch black on each side with black lines extending into no where. Once in a while when he was closer he could make out the trees around him but there were no signs of any human life. He had another 10 minutes left with him and he knew he was lost.
Where was he? He should have at least brought a map.
Soon he knew he was just driving in the dark, heading no where. He had only 4 minutes left and the only way he could deliver the box in time was if a miracle happened which would put him right in the door way of the house he was searching. He gave up all hopes and decided to go back and take the crawling highway again. This was the only option left and he knew he had lost on the delivery. He stopped the car to look around him. There was nothing except darkness. He turned the car to head back to the highway when something shiny caught his eye. It was a sign board.
The road name on the sign board was same as the road of his address and directed towards his right. There was no sign of any road on the left. He realized the road he had taken had brought him at the other end of that lonely road and he now had to take that road but check on the opposite side for the house.
He started driving in that direction and he was once again in the dark country side. He drove for a few minutes when he saw a light at a distance; a trace of life, at last. He immediately recognized the house as he approached it. It was the same house he had come a few weeks back and it was the same house that was on his paper.
He parked the car in front of the house and walked towards the door with the box in his hand. He pressed the door bell and waited for the door to be opened. A lady opened the door and seemed to point towards the wall clock in the neatly laid room.
“You are late. I cannot pay” she said as she took the box from him.
“Enjoy your pizza ma’am” he said, and turned back to drive into the darkness again.
~Narendra V Joshi