General Fiction posted June 4, 2019

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How helping a stranded motorist can affect your life.

The Good Samaritan

by Lance S. Loria

The Wrong Move Contest Winner 

TGIF!! Thank goodness it's Friday. After a long week of calling on customers and driving twelve hundred miles, home was now just two hours away down the interstate. A casual weekend of rest lay ahead before the next week began and it started all over again for Ted Sinclair.

In the distance, Ted could see flashing lights on a car along the roadside. Poor guy he thought. Hopefully he has AAA road assistance. As Ted got closer, he thought, maybe he should stop and just check. At the same time, he really didn't want to delay getting home, but it did seem like the right thing to do. Anyway, it's a nice looking Mercedes, and the guy looks like a decent fellow.

After much internal debate he decided to pull over and at least inquire if this stranded motorist needed assistance. He came to a stop behind the Mercedes and put down his passenger side window. The motorist walked around and poked his head in the window. His look of desperation seemed to change into a smile of relief.

"What's wrong?" Ted asked.
"I'm not sure, the engine light came on and then the temperature light. I pulled over and now it won't start. A lot of cars have gone by, but you're the first Good Samaritan, so thank you."
"Did you call for help?"
"I'm not from around here, so there is no one to call. Could you give me a lift to the next gas station?"

Ted thought to himself about hitchhikers but quickly dismissed that thought since this guy was a well-dressed, thirty-something man, in a Mercedes. Without further thought, Ted said, "Sure, hop in."

The motorist pulled a briefcase from his car and jumped in next to Ted. He smiled, extended his right hand and said, "Jim Jackson, or you can call me JJ." Ted shook his hand and smiled back.

About ten minutes later they approached the next exit for a rest stop, but there was no gas station. JJ asked if he'd mind making a quick stop explaining he'd been on the side of the road for over an hour. That made Ted wonder why no one else had offered assistance. Ted nodded and took the exit.

Ted parked in front of the facility and JJ opened the door to leave, but looked back to see if Ted was going in also. "Don't need to go?" asked JJ.
"No, I'm fine. I'll wait for you here."

JJ leaned in and took his briefcase with him as he walked away. That made Ted curious about what was in that briefcase. Perhaps it concealed a weapon. Why on earth did he think that. What if this mild mannered guy was a serial killer. Maybe the Mercedes belonged to his latest victim, who was stuffed in the trunk. Ted's hands felt clammy, perspiration formed on his brow, as well as inside his collar. The realization hit Ted hard that he could be the next victim.

There were numerous parked cars and quite a few people walking about. Ted reasoned that if JJ was truly a stranded motorist, it would be easy for him to get help from one of them. Ted didn't owe this stranger anything. Ted thought he should drive away before getting delayed further, or even permanently. His hands felt sweaty on the steering wheel and his heart was racing. Ted wanted and needed to get home. A wife, two kids and a mortgage needed attention. Ted lived paycheck to paycheck, and what would happen to his family, if JJ was not who he said he was, and Ted became his next victim.

Ted started the engine and the radio came on loudly. He turned down the volume and that diverted his thoughts momentarily, to what causes that to happen. Ted blinked several times, while looking around the rest stop to find a glimpse of JJ. He was not in sight and seemed to be taking a long time. Ted thought JJ wanted him to come looking for him so he could get Ted alone. It would be easier to murder Ted and leave his body in a stall. Or maybe JJ found another victim, and had driven away already. Well, Ted was not going to fall for this ruse and look for JJ. Instead, he slowly backed out of the parking space, and then quickly drove away. A tremendous feeling of relief came across his body. Ted was certain that he had just dodged a bullet, literally. Ted arrived home within two hours, without further incident. He decided it was best not to mention anything about JJ to his wife, Jill.

Ted walked into the living room and Jill was intently watching cable news. She said, "Hi honey. Listen to this news story. A couple of State Troopers are at the last rest stop on the interstate and....well, just listen."

Ted was certain that a dead body had been found either in the Mercedes or at the rest stop. Sure enough, two State Troopers were standing next to JJ. He really must be a serial killer. Then the Trooper turned the microphone over to JJ.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Gordon Hampton, III. Some of you may recognize my family name from our mining and natural gas interests. I've been fortunate in life and have been interested in studying human behavior. In particular, what motivates a Good Samaritan. My objective is to chronicle my experiences, and equally important, to reward each person who took the time to help a stranger in need. Thus far, I've awarded six Good Samaritans with $150,000 in cash for their unselfish acts to help me, as I pretended to be a stranded motorist. I thought I found number seven tonight, but he drove away. My briefcase contains $150,000."

At that moment, JJ, or Gordon, opened the briefcase and showed the camera the bundles of hundred dollar bills.

"Honey, what's wrong? You look like you just saw a ghost", said Jill.

Writing Prompt
Write a story where your character made the wrong choice and must deal with the repercussions.

The Wrong Move
Contest Winner

No good deed goes unpunished.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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