THE CARPOOL • by R. L. Copple

Henry pulled to a stop in front of Jerry’s house to pick up his new carpool partner. No one flew out the door. “He’s going to make me late!” Henry slammed on the horn.

The door flung open, and Jerry rushed down the driveway, one shoe off and a loose tie flapping in the wind behind him, while trying to eat a breakfast bar.

Henry shook his head as he watched Jerry fling his briefcase into the back seat and flop down beside him, scattering crumbs around as he pulled the door shut.

“Bogus! My alarm clock didn’t go off this morning.”

“You’re going to clean up all those crumbs, aren’t you?”

“Oh, wow, Dude, didn’t realize I had cratered your wheels.” He dusted more crumbs off his shirt and onto the floorboard.

Henry gritted his teeth. Why he had ever agreed to the carpool idea now escaped him. Yeah, at the time saving the environment had sounded like a good idea, but at the expense of his sanity?

After a brief drive to the freeway, he landed in the morning rush hour traffic headed downtown. More like the morning still hour traffic, because they didn’t go very fast. Reminded him of the Army: rush to stand in line. At least there you didn’t have to smell everyone’s gas fumes. Only an occasional rear venting.

Jerry swallowed the last of his breakfast bar and dusted the remaining crumbs into his lap. “You know what you need?”

“No, what?” Henry kept his eyes on the car in front of him to watch a movie on their TV screen.

“What you need is a set of saws on the front of this chariot, and like, you could mow your way through all this traffic.”

“Saws? What are you talking about?”

“They have those now. I saw it in the movie theater. Speed Racer uses them.” He stared at me as if serious.

“Ah, that’s a movie. Not real life. They don’t really have cars like that. Besides, even if I had such saws, I’d be put away for life for killing all these people in front of me so that I could get to work faster.”

“Whoa, Dude. I hadn’t thought about that. After all, who wants to get to work faster.”

Henry wrinkled his brow and stared at the man. “Who hired you?”

A grin spread across his face. “My Uncle. He’s rad.”

“Of course. I should have known.”

“Why? Are you psychic?”

“No, you crazy–”

“Oh, oh, I know! You need those legs that pop out and shoot your car into the air so you can jump over everyone. That’d be awesome!”

Henry rolled his eyes, and kept them there. “Aside from the damage such a device would do to your car upon crashing back onto the pavement, when you’re sitting still, all it would do is make your car jump up and down in one place!”

“Whoa! You’re right!” A silly grin danced upon his face. “You’re pretty smart.”

“Wish I could return the compliment.” Using saw blades to shorten this ride grew more appealing by the minute. The crowd of vehicles moved forward a couple of feet.

Jerry scanned the area. “Dude, we’re gonna be here for a while. What if we–”

“No! No more crazy ideas. Nada, zip. Got it?”

“But I wanted–”

Henry grabbed Jerry’s lips and squished them shut. “What did I just say? Did I stutter? Was I not clear enough?”

He yanked his head back out of Henry’s grasp. “But if–”

“You see this button right here?” Henry pointed at the radio volume dial.

Jerry nodded.

“If you don’t shut up, I’ll push that button, and you’ll be ejected from this car. Remember that from the movie?”

His eyes grew wide. “You…” He stopped himself short. His eyes glanced at the button, then back to Henry. He settled back in his seat and stared out the window.

Henry smiled. At last, some peace and quiet.

For a few moments, only the sounds of car horns and a street crew hammering pavement into pieces off in the distance pierced the blessed quietness in the vehicle. The line moved forward another couple feet.

Jerry dug in his pocket, then pulled out… nothing? But he held it as if it were keys. He then grabbed an imaginary steering wheel and proceeded to ‘start’ the car.

Henry groaned. Now he’s going to mime all the way to work!

Jerry flipped an imaginary turn signal switch and made a noise with his mouth, “Click, clunk, click, clunk,” and spun the air-wheel to the right.

Henry’s eyes followed his movements to a street leading off to the right. The construction blocking the back-road route to work had been opened after months of being closed.

“Oh look, the road’s open now. Great!”

“That’s what I was trying to tell you, Dude!” His eyebrows shot up. He threw his hands over the radio volume knob and waited for Henry to act.

Henry sighed. “I’m not going to eject you.”

Jerry relaxed. “That’s awesome, cause otherwise, I’d have had to take drastic measures.”

Henry laughed. “And what would those be?”

He whipped out a handle, flipped a switch, and a beam of light extended six feet from the base, searing a hole through the roof of the car. Jerry swung it around. It crackled through the metal with a hum, and a chunk of ceiling crashed between them.

Henry jumped back and gazed forlornly at his car’s ceiling. “What the…!” Jerry had created an instant sunroof. Jagged metal surrounded the hole as the light-saber hummed, throwing sparks when it bounced off the edges of the ever-widening hole.

“Where on earth did you get that?”

“Dude, from the movie, where else? Now, about those saw blades….”

R. L. Copple is a father to three children, a husband since 1982, and lives in the Texas Hill Country. His interest in speculative fiction started at an early age, after reading “Runaway Robot” by Lester Del Ray. Many others followed by Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, Tolkien and  C. S. Lewis, among others. He has written for religious purposes but started writing speculative fiction in 2005. Infinite Realities marks his first book, a fantasy novella. Novels are in the editing stages, one of which is a sequel to this book. He has been published in several venues. More info can be found at the  author’s web site,

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Every Day Fiction