On The Line
A Short Story. Based on actual events. Unedited. Read it slowly.
Today, I returned from a service call. My route took me through one of the poorest towns in the state of New Jersey. As I was driving down the road, I noticed a figure. It was somewhere near the center. I began to narrow my focus. I got closer. Definitely in the center. I must be careful. Closer still. A man. A desperate man. He is right on the yellow, center line. Hand outstretched. Barely. Dressed in all black. Long, curly hair. I stopped at the light. He is behind me. Shaking. Quivering. “Dollar”, he quakes. He taps on the window of the car behind me. His feet still on the yellow line. “Dollar”, he mumbles expecting no one to listen. I listened. Intently. I put up my window only to avoid incident. I looked around to see if anyone cared. No one. I cared. He clearly was at the end of his life. I was certain. He stood right on that yellow line. He was certain, too. Police sirens wailed. Someone must have called. Someone else did care. The officer sped right on by. Probably, on his way to some frivolous accident. The man was still there. Was he conscious? Perhaps. Maybe he was no longer on the earth. He just needed his last one.
The light turned green. I went on. I thought about him. His last day. I was overwhelmed. My body let out a little quiver. I said to myself, “If there is a God, may he judge him fairly. Not for what he has become but for what he used to be.” That man, standing there. His entire life on the line.