Friday Drabble: Samaritan

drabble is a very short story of exactly 100 words. Feel free to join in and write your own drabbles on Fridays and tag them with “friday drabble” and on Twitter with the hashtag #fridaydrabble. This one is somewhat of an attempt asking the reader to put themselves in the same situation.

Samaritan

“What are you doing?” Jen asked tightly as the car pulled to a stop.

Ryan glanced in the rearview at the car with its hood up and the man standing next to it. “He needs help. There’s no one out here.”

“That’s right. There’s. No. One. Out. Here,” she articulated slowly. “What if he’s… dangerous?”

“Come on, Jen. He could be stranded here all night. Aren’t we supposed to… to do unto others and all that?”

“Ryan, I’m serious.”

He exhaled heavily, her worry eroding his sense of righteousness.

“You stay here. I’ll check,” he said, opening his car door.

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15 thoughts on “Friday Drabble: Samaritan

  1. GAH! What happens??? Oh, my. Okay…my ending: Ryan finds out he’s rescued a very kind and generous man, who has nary a relative left in the world, and repays Ryan’s kindness a mere 2 years later by dying and leaving him every penny he has. There. Umm…but wait. What if Jen’s right, and the man is really the infamous Empty Road Slasher, and he immediately smites Ryan down dead with his sharp, sharp machete, and then does the same to Jen before she can scramble over the seats to drive away fast. There. Yet another story of misplaced compassion. But…but…wait, again. Probably what happens is that Ryan drives 30 miles out of his way to get gas for this guy, returns, fills his tank, and the guy gets in and drives away, tossing a cursory, “Thanks, pal!” out the window, and never even reimburses Ryan for the gas. Yeah. That one sounds about right.

    Love this Drabble. So many “In Head Endings” possible. Thanks.

    • Marcia — yes, I think the last one is probably the most “realist” answer!! The idea came from a real event on deserted road — and has made me think a lot about the dichotomy between our mandate to “love our neighbors” and our fear of strangers.

  2. Well, one thing for sure. As much as we want to be generous and kind, we know we need to look twice and be very careful today. It’s not the same world it was when I was growing up, that’s for sure. *mentally playing “Those Were The Days” in my head, here*

    It sure makes you think!

  3. I hate to say it, but I don’t think we would stop. We would call and send someone back to him, or something….but, you just don’t stop these days.
    One late night when my son was around 19 years old, he was out driving at midnight. We have a traintrack about a mile from our house. He saw a car parked there, and someone sitting cross legged on the tracks.
    He called 911 and waited until he saw someone come, then he left. I was so proud of him that he didn’t get out of his car. You just never know what people will do!

    • Lauri — especially with cell phones, I think there are ways to help without putting yourself too much in the crosshairs. Good for your son to have made such a thoughtful (but safe) way to help in that situation.

  4. True story: Papa was driving along one night (this is MANY years ago in the Ozarks, so we’re talking a remote place with maybe 10% of the people here NOW). A woman was lying in the middle of the road (gravel, 1.5 car lengths wide, typical). Rather than stop, run out and react like my crazy arse would’ve, he slowly eased up IN THE CAR and looked down when he was right alongside. She opened her eyes and turned her head. He went on…
    As we got a bit further, he looked in the rearview mirror and 2 men stepped out of the woods (which are everywhere and obscure all view).

    Good thing he didn’t stop and get out.

    • Good Lord!!! This reminds me of stories of Camden when I was growing up that there were gangs that if they saw someone driving alone (especially a woman driving alone) that would slide 2×12’s with nails sticking up out of them out in front of the approaching car. Either the car stopped or got flats. Either way, the car stopped. Horrible.

  5. Excellent story. The Drabble is a bitch of a framework in which to work. You don’t even have enough room for a whole “slice-of-life” to tell a story. It’s more like a “petit-four” of life, or a “cookie-of-life.” You create a compelling story, all in 100 words. That is a bitch to do. Very nice work, sir.

    Now back to work merging the seagull and the shark. ;-)

    • Thanks, Tom! I usually think of them as a little vignette. I think the hardest part is to put in enough clues to paint enough of the picture, without being too obvious.

      Sharkgull is on its way to a Gulf state near you! :)

  6. Cell phone/911, Steve.

    And even being the guy on the side of the road when a stranger stops to help can be harrowing at times if it’s not a law enforcement officer. And sometimes when it is …

    • GOM — it’s a really nerve-wracking situation on both sides because no one wants to feel defenseless. And no one wants to seem cold-hearted. But no one wants to do something stupid that puts themselves in danger, either.

  7. I was once the person stalled on the side of a deserted rural road. It was the era before cellphones (unimaginable to my children) and I was scared to leave my car at night to look for a gas station or pay phone. I was praying a state patrol car would eventually show up, when suddenly, I saw headlights pull up and stop behind me. A man got out of the car and walked towards me, and I confess I was terrified, even though I needed help. The man, as things would turn out, was a Mormon missionary on his way to the next town. He really looked like one of the characters from “The Book of Mormon: The Musical!” with a short-sleeved white shirt and black tie. He asked me if I wanted a ride to a nearby gas station. I was very reluctant to accept—I think I’ve read too many Stephen King novels and seen too many horror films, because I was sure my would-be Samaritan was a psycho killer in disguise. Something about him however broke down my defenses—the utterly guileless smile? his complete trust in me—I mean, I could have been a psycho killer for all he knew! But I got into his little Chevy Nova and had a very pleasant conversation with this very relaxed young Minister of the Lord. He drove me to a 24-hour station that had a tow truck, and I couldn’t thank him enough. Since then I keep in mind that night when I see people stalled in remote places. I may not stop, but I will call and alert the local police or CHP that someone needs help.

    And I hope that young man wasn’t Mitt Romney. Probably not—he was too baby-faced, and too nice. But I hope he’s now a middle-aged man with a happy, comfortable life. He taught me something about trust that night.

    • HG — I’m glad that you were met with kindness when you were stranded. I think the “stop-don’t stop” question reveals something about what we really think about human nature. This was derived from a real event that The Beloved and I had on a lonely road in the dark between Yellowstone and Jackson, WY. We stopped and I think the family that was stranded was more scared than we were.

  8. My husband does this, Steve. Stands by his car on deserted highways. Wait. No. That’s not right. Actually, Rob really does stop whenever he sees someone by the side of the road. Makes me nervous each and every time. Fortunately, he’s yet to meet someone only ‘pretending’ to need help. With his 6’7″ stature, I’m hoping anyone pretending would think twice upon seeing Rob.

    This drabble was excellent. Excellent.

  9. Thanks LD — this came from real-life experience on our part — we were the couple in the car. I hope that we as a people will always tend towards stopping rather than ignoring.

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