The Last Stop

The Last Stop

A Story by Chad Hollingsworth

This is a short story inspired by a poem with the same title written by Shelby Baker. I found the poem inspiring and wanted to write a short story based on it. Kudos to Shelby!


Just Another Day

Today started as any other day.  Beat on the alarm clock a few times, stumble to the coffee pot just to get the day rolling.  I seemed to fall asleep in between putting in the filter and scooping out some coffee.  I think I did fall asleep there for a few seconds.  Then off to the shower, cold of course. I don't think I've taken a hot shower in two years.  With two teenage girls in the house, it seems that I always end up with the short end of the straw.

"Good morning, daddy."  Oh, Blair is in a good mood this morning.  She is so very beautiful.  She reminds me more of her mom and less of me every time I look at her; or so it seems.  "Gonna be home late tonight.  Study group at Shea's house."  Hearing these words makes me think that I'm gonna have a late night as well.  I try not to worry about these girls, it's just that the world's filled with so many horrible people.  God, I so struggle with them gaining their independence and freedom.  Do all fathers go through this?  Now I know why my Dad always said he was happy to only have boys.

Where's Emmie, I asked.  "She left early for a morning swim practice."  I ask Blair if she wants a ride to school, knowing that my wife had to be at the community center with Emmie.  "No, Shea's on her way."  And before I can get off the routine, "Be safe, I love you," she's out the door.  Shheww.  Some time alone. 

It seems I dream about alone time all the time, but with all the time I get alone in the patrol car, I get lonely when I'm home alone.  What happened to the late night giggles?  Where did all of the moments of refereeing go?  I miss tripping over Barbie dolls and finding friendship bracelets in my shoes.  What ever happened to the stick figure drawings with insanely oversized heads that had sentences that read, "Love you dabby!"?  Man, I miss those backwards d's. 

It seems lately that the only reminders that I have kids at all are some requests for twenty dollars, or the occasional thong that I find in my laundry pile.  What does a 16 year old spend twenty dollars on in a night at the football game?  And when did sixteen year olds start wearing thongs?  I've really got to talk to Maria about that.  Are we sending the wrong message to our daughters?  I knew we were blessed when the Doc said we were having twins, but sometimes it just seems like a prescription for double trouble.

Just a Routine Call

Work started just like my morning.  Another day, another dollar.  I never really put much thought into becoming a cop.  Just kinda fell into it, if you will.  Not that any of my family were in law enforcement.  Heck, my mom always thought that I'd be a politician or something.  Not that there's much difference.  You either piss everybody off, or you are a criminal yourself.  Where are the morals of society?  Not too many seem sacred to me anymore, but I still try to live by the Golden Rule.  That's a good thing, isn't it?  I mean, is there really anything more important than that?

I'm supposed to be focused on this radar gun, but it seems that my thoughts are wandering more and more.  Is it the Hemachromatosis that they diagnosed me with?  Who knew that a liver that doesn't get rid of any iron could take such a toll on the body?  The struggles to get going each day.  The tiredness.  And that damn metal taste in my mouth.  Man, I'll be glad when those phlebotomies get my iron levels under control.  "Ha, gotcha Mr. Speeder!"

Do you ever get that gut feeling that something's not quite right?  Well, I do and I can tell you that I never had it on this call.  The car was old and rusty.  Looks like a '92 Camaro.  Probably some kid excited about a new set of wheels.  Isn't it funny how anything with four wheels and a gas pedal seems like a dream car when you're sixteen?  It doesn't matter what shape it's in, because you've got dreams.  And you've got vision.  You can see what all needs to be done, and you're pretty sure you can do most of it by yourself.  But at sixteen, those wheels represent FREEDOM.  And INDEPENDENCE.  And in my experience, it represents STUPIDITY.

I called in to dispatch the license plate and everything came back okay.  Current registration.  Plates are good.  Just a speeding ticket.  So I get some paperwork started before I leave my car.  I hate standing on these roads while writing out tickets.  Too many crazy drivers that are not paying attention.  I remember when Bob from 3rd Shift got killed on this road.  Man, has it really been three years?  Just another drunk driver.  And Bob was just checking on an unoccupied vehicle sitting on the side of the road.  Man I miss Bob.  Reminder to self..."Don't be a Bob.  Safety first, and keep your eyes open."

I didn't notice anything unusual when approaching the car.  I put my thumbprint on the taillight cover and approached the window with caution.  Are you kidding me?  I swear this guy is either Tom Cruise, or he could pass for his twin.  "Officer, is there anything wrong?"  How many times have I heard that?  If I were truly guessing, I'd say it has been at least one thousand times over the last fifteen years.  "Sir, I clocked you doing 50 in a 35," came my reply.  "Oh, sorry, my wife is sick at home and I was just worried.  Can we make this quick?"

What?  No argument?  Either his wife is sick or he's hiding something.  I heard my wife's voice in the back of my head...."You always think the worst of people.  Why don't you ever give them the benefit of the doubt?"  She simply does not understand what losers I deal with on a daily basis.  Of course, most are your average joe and jane, but when we get the losers, we get the LOSERS.  "Sure," I replied.  "License and registration please."

Just a Bad Judgement Call

I got his driver's license and registration and headed back to my car for a minute.  I knew it would only take a second to get a background check done.  And that's when I saw it.  It was just a flash out of the corner of my eye, but it was there.  I think that was my mistake.  I hesitated.  Hell, I stopped in my tracks for at least five or six seconds.  I'm not sure why.  I think I was just processing it.  Maybe it's the disease's fault.  But I screwed up.  I paused.  And I am sure he saw me pause in his side mirror.  Or maybe he was looking back as he grabbed that tool of misery from the backseat.

He must have reached behind him.  But he had to have seen my pause.  And he panicked.  That pause, I'm sure, is what has me thinking it through now.  Really?  Can a five second mistake define the single most significant event of my life?  Yeah, I guess it does.  But no use crying over spilled milk now is there?  I knew I had to turn around now, before things got out of hand.  And so I did.  Man, this adrenaline that I used to love so much, now just seems to make me sick to my stomach.

When I came back to the window, that look in his eye said ten thousand words.  I have no idea who this actor is playing right now, but I didn't want to be any part of his story.  But I have a job to do.  People expect me to get criminals off the street.  If I don't question the past thirty seconds worth of events, bad things could happen.  I never knew how bad things could get for questioning them. 

We locked eyes like two guys about to have a gunfight in one of those old Clint Eastwood movies.  Spaghetti Westerns, I think they call them.  My dad told me it was because the movies were all shot in Italy due to budget constraints.  Man, I could use the quick hands of one of those guys now.  I squinted.  I felt a bead of sweat emerge from my brow.  All that was missing was a tumbleweed or two and someone whistling us a soundtrack.  And then it happened.

Two shots rang out.  I didn't even feel it.  But they hit me for sure.  That ringing in my ear ain't the soundtrack.  I saw him get out and grab his license and registration off of the ground.  And then he drove off.  Just like that.  What I thought was a sixteen year old speeder just levelled me without even thinking about it.  What could he have been hiding?  Could I have given him some help?  But right now, I'm the one that needs the help.  Where the hell's my radio?

I'm bleeding.  That's for sure.  But I can't hear anything.  Just this damn ringing.  I feel weak, not like I just finished a good workout; but weak as if I simply don't have the ability to lift myself off this ground.  I can't seem to keep my thoughts together.  Well, that's not true.  I mean I've replayed this entire day in my head right now with you.  I call out for help on the radio, but not sure if it got through.  All I can hear is this damn ringing.  They say that you see your entire life pass before your eyes just before you die.  So maybe I'll live.  I can't make it past thinking through this day.  Forget about the rest of my life.  Maybe help will be here soon.  I'm not sure.  The only thing I can say is the last thing that went through my head before I passed out was a line from the song, The End, by the Doors..."Before you slip into...unconsciousness..."  Funny, huh?


© 2009 Chad Hollingsworth

My Review

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This is so wonderful, impressive write here I must say,
Remarkable writing. I like this alot.
Love all the imagery and detail you put into this.
Very well written story and a enjoyable read.

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I enjoyed this. Great conversational flow. I was expecting a twist involving one of the daughters, which would have been a tad formulaic. This worked well. Not much criticism from me.

Good work in general, great for a first short-story.

Now go enter a few contests.....

Posted 13 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Well im flattered! Very good story. I love the bold sentences you have in there. Kind of gets you ready for the scene in one manner. It was nicely written!

Posted 13 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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3 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on October 22, 2009
Last Updated on October 22, 2009


Chad Hollingsworth
Chad Hollingsworth

Fairview, TN

Firefighter/Paramedic by trade. Philosopher at heart. Writer for the love of creativity and expression. Married, three kids, too many jobs. more..


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