Oh, by the way, security told me earlier that some guy showed up, claiming to be your assistant.”
“Already? What time is it?”
“It’s almost one o’clock,” he says. “Are you telling me you actually hired someone?”
My heart drops.
I shove past Cliff, ignoring him as he calls for me, wanting his question answered. I head straight for security, spotting Jack standing along the side with a guard, looking somewhere between disturbed and amused.
“Strangest shit I’ve ever witnessed in Jersey,” Jack says, looking me over. “And that’s saying something, because I once saw a chimpanzee roller skating, and that was weird as fuck.”
“I’m going to take that as a compliment, even though I know it isn’t one,” I say, grabbing his arm and making him follow me. It’s about a two-and-a-half hour drive to Bennett Landing, but I barely have two hours. “Please tell me you drove.”
Before he can respond, I hear Cliff shouting as he follows. “Johnny! Where are you going?”
“Oh, buddy.” Jack glances behind us at Cliff. “Am I your getaway driver?”
“Something like that,” I say. “You ever play Grand Theft Auto?”
“Every fucking day, man.”
“Good,” I say, continuing to walk, despite Cliff attempting to catch up. “If you can get me where I need to be, there will be one hell of a reward in it for you.”
His eyes light up as he pulls out a set of car keys. “Mission accepted.”
There’s a crowd gathered around set. They figured out we’re here. They know we’re wrapping today. I scan the area, looking for a way around them.
“Where’d you park?” I ask, hoping it’s anywhere but right across the street.
“Right across the street,” he says.
I’m going to have to go through the crowd.
“You sure you, uh, don’t want to change?” Jack asks, his eyes flickering to me, conflicted.
“No time for that.”
The crowd spots me, and they start going crazy, making Cliff yell louder to get my attention, but I don’t stop. I slip off of set, past the metal barricades and right into the street, as security tries to keep the crowd back, but it’s a losing game. So we run, and I follow Jack to an old station wagon, the tan paint faded.
“This is what you drive?”
“Not all of us grew up with trust funds,” he says, slapping his hand against the rusted hood. “This was my inheritance.”
“Not judging,” I say, pausing beside it. “It’s just all very ‘70s suburban housewife.”
“That sounds like judgment, asshole.”
I open the passenger door to get in the car when Cliff catches up, slightly out of breath from running. “What are you doing, Johnny? You’re leaving?”
“I told you I had somewhere to be.”
“This is ridiculous,” he says, anger edging his voice. “You need to sort out your priorities.”
“That’s a damn good idea,” I say. “Consider this my notice.”
“I’m taking a break,” I say. “From you. From this. From all of it.”
“You’re making a big mistake.”
“You think so?” I ask, looking him right in the face. “Because I think the mistake I made was trusting you.”
I get in the car, slamming the door, leaving Cliff standing on the sidewalk, fuming.
Jack starts the engine, cutting his eyes at me. “So, where to? The unemployment office?”
“Home,” I say, “and I need to get there as soon as possible, because somebody is waiting for me, and I can't disappoint her.
J.M. Darhower (Ghosted)