The Sensible Choice

Short Story
Feb 2, 2020
Jason: Oh, eat shit, you know that's unfair.
Jason, looking through Spotify in the passenger seat. The highway and the silence pass at the same speed.
Jane: I'm just saying, you've been depressed for years and it never goes anywhere. At this point, just admit that everything is 'fine'. Everything is always 'fine', we're better than most and not accountable for the sins of humanity.
Jason looking for the right soundtrack to match the moment; it auto-played The Eagles, but that's definitely not right. Billie Holiday?
Jason: It's just, the years go on, and I keep waiting for the rising action. I'm the ordinary person waiting to be thrown into an extraordinary moment. Where's my Die Hard? Independence Day? I want some action, but instead I'm buying groceries and sleeping at 8:30. When's anything going to happen?
Jane: Everything happens everyday! People are born in taxi cabs; get exploded by landmines; released from cages; and donate millions to charities. You're lucky; our ancestors fought and died for the right to be bored.
Jason: But that's just it, man. I feel the weight of my great-great-grandfather looking down saying 'I toiled day and night so that my lineage would prosper.' And instead of the America they foretold, we have Memes, earthquakes, and seemingly endless beef. I could be on 'My 600lb life' in about 5 years, funded by a Walmart salary and a Golden Corral. I'm jus...
Jane: STOP, no more. I'm sorry you're not more unlucky, Jason. You're not special. Please, for the love of god, silence for the next 30 miles. I need a break.
Strangers in the Night blips from the speakers as Jane pulls the aux cable and stares forward.

Cities rise and fall, now the loneliness of Middle America. It'd only been a few states; a few pit-stops; and the whir of a tiny engine. Jane had her eyes on the prize.
Jane liked Jason a couple of years ago; not to say she doesn't like him now. She likes him fine, but the young man you meet skipping his Medieval Literature class is going to be a fundamentally different person than the one you buy a house with.
Jason was a bartender, or at least had been at one time, before he "got too sick to work" or, rather, "stole someones' medicine cabinet, lost his grasp on reality, culminating in a very dark phone call from a motel near the airport where Jason scored couple of pills and a brutal ass kicking." The cops were called, the blood cleaned, the charges tearfully negotiated to "disturbing the peace" by Jane. Privileged, fuck you, but it was dealt with.
28 miles, the silence hangs unbroken. Jason reaches in the back seat, palming around for chips in the grocery bags, the ruffles.
Jane: They're in the trunk. I think they might be the cooler.
Jason: Why are the chips in the cooler? And, 29 miles, you broke your own rule.
Jane: "Do as I say, not as I do."
Jane smiles at Jason who takes off his seat-belt and climbs into the backseat of the hatchback.
Jane: What else is in this cooler? Did we horde any delicacies?
Leaving Raleigh was strategic; a change of scenery for Jason, family for Jane. But Jane worried he'd get tired in Montana; he wouldn't be the first person to go stir-crazy in the woods. A life full of townies, pick up trucks, and going into the Big City once in a while to see a show. It's got a quaintness.
Jane: Get me a popsicle while you're back there.
Six hours to her mom's house, her childhood bedroom, but probably a better nights sleep than at a cheap hotel room.
Jason plops back into his seat, hands over the popsicle, bites the plastic top off, hands it to Jane, unclips the ruffles, re-opens Spotify, re-installs the aux cable, and scrolls.
Jason: Do you think Pharrell is happy? Like, he can afford to pay naked women to bring him soft drinks on a golden platter, but do you think he's happy? Fulfilled and all that?
This is a game they've always played when they're bored. Along with occasional celebrity death-matches.
Jane: I imagine he's wildly more happy than us. Not because of the naked women, but despite them. He sees through them. We could never understand the level of contentment Pharrell wields.
Jason: Maybe with the amount of musical clout he has, he experiences life through the vibrations of the universe, and naked bodies vibrate better than clothed ones. The butlers are a necessity for his craft.
Jane: Is that what you want? Naked butlers and unlimited clout?
Jason: Man, imagine what I could do if I had a butler.