Daring Dilemma Unsolved

In the following short story, a teen age tragedy provides important life lessons to be learned about becoming a better person.

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.”(James Thurber)

Jeff got up every day at 3:00 am. to bundle his newspapers and throw his assigned paper route. He truly appreciated the satisfaction of performing this job alone in nightly silence. Yet he did not want his parents nagging ways to interfere with such solitude in his life as he approached his senior year of high school. Lately it seemed, however, late night parties, barking dogs, and drunken drivers along his daily driving route in this suburban community seemed an increasingly difficult distraction to him.

Being a careful driver, Jeff had normally stacked his folded newspapers in the back of his sports utility vehicle without obstructing his driving vision. Yet tonight, feeling more stressed than usual, he had rushed to pile up his newspaper bundles to the tip of the interior roof in a more haphazard fashion. With his “tunnel vision” eyes nervously focusing only in front of him, now, Jeff drove off on this fateful delivery night, clenching the steering wheel more tightly. If only he had remembered to re-stack his papers more carefully to unblock his rear/side vision!

With only 25 out 350 papers delivered in the first hour tonight, Jeff obsessed that he was running late on his nightly schedule. Suddenly he smelled the unmistakable stench of burning smoke and heard desperate screams emanating from the darkness behind his car. Ignoring this potential calamity seemed out of the question yet Jeff’s preoccupied mind combined with his cluttered back seat surrounding had adversely affected his rational judgment. As a result, Jeff would make the tragic decision to continue along his paper route robotically fixated solely on the need to “make up” for lost time.

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