Driving wasn't helping. Miles upon miles of darkened roads, littered with street signs and billboards. Hour after hour spent behind the wheel, purchasing distance at a low cost in an attempt to sell high. Listening to the radio play the same songs over and over again - a tired circle of pop culture melodrama unfolding in the car speakers on repeat. Nothing was working. He'd been at this for as long as he could remember, this driving, this running. It seemed like forever that he was behind this wheel, running from the ]archfiends of Hell themselves.
He'd had a lot of time to think while driving. While he found it increasingly difficult to focus on one particular thought at a time (there were so many!) he still found himself able to draw certain conclusions on his journey, and make certain very important resolutions because of those conclusions. The first thing that had to happen was he had to tell the boss that he was done. No more late night runs, no more lying to clients and stealing their money. It was good while it lasted, but the heat was too strong now and he felt that it was best to just let it alone before someone got hurt. That was an easy decision.
He still hadn't decided what to do about her, though. She was becoming more of a problem each day, and now it seemed almost as if their relationship had mutated from something that was very easy to stomach into something that was hindering his very way of life. He didn't know if he wanted to end the relationship completely, but he felt that it surely needed to be reassessed, redefined, and reconsidered. These sort of things need an overhaul from time to time, he told himself, and this one was no different. She needed to know exactly what he expected in a relationship, and in turn he had to know what she needed from him. It was either that or things would have to end. There was no point in continuing on the path they were on now, in the condition they both were in.
She had found out about the job, what he really did for a living. He had always figured that if he found himself in a serious relationship then eventually she would have to find out about the nature of his work. This was to be expected. You can't keep secrets forever, and he knew that. He just hadn't counted on her finding out so quickly, and in the manner in which she had. Everything was running very smoothly with them, and the relationship was still very new. In the few weeks they had been together, he had found that he could express himself to her in a way that he had never been able to do before with another woman. She had a certain disarming air about her that only very special women have. When he first met her and started talking to her, he almost fooled himself into actually believing that she knew all about him before he'd even said a word. That was a mistake, and he knew that now. Trust cannot be so easily given away, or else things like this happen. He laughed to himself when he thought of what ran through her mind when she found out all about him that accidental afternoon, and all of those silly little paradigms that she had about him vanished in an instant.
Things change very quickly. Indeed they do.
It was partly his fault for lying to her about it in the first place. When she asked him that first night what he did for a living, he found himself in a very precarious situation. He had a standard line for people when they asked him this, but the prospect of using that line on her, for whatever reason, seemed wrong. He wanted to be honest with her from the very start, but he knew that wasn't possible. There was no way that she would accept him if she knew what he really did for a living. Society frowns on such people, and he knew that. It was something he'd accepted when he decided to undertake it as a career.
Up until that day, it hadn't bothered him a bit to lie to people about it. When it came down to it, he took pride in what he did. He didn't derive that pride from the approval of others. His boss and clients already showed their approval by paying him the money that he earned. The public didn't need to know what he did for a living, and as far as he was concerned it was none of their business.
With her, the lie came out as an incidental blurt. Sort of a half-truth. She seemed to accept it as fact, but the lie escaping from his lips made his mouth dry and his stomach uneasy. Women had lied to him before, and it had hurt him deeply. He had told himself he would never put someone through that. He would only lie about that one thing, and eventually even that could not be covered up any longer. At that moment, with her, he thought that if he told her a half truth about what he did then maybe when the real truth came out it wouldn't be so much of a blow.
He'd told her that he was a teacher. In a way, he was.
The sun was coming up over the horizon. The clouds seemed to mock him with their multi-colored hue of dark tones. There were still stars out, but he knew that he had to get where he was going soon or else there would be no chance to make anything right. He had to keep this final appointment, this last commitment to his boss and their client. Gradually, he pushed the accelerator closer to the floor. As the car gained speed on the road, he felt his knuckles grip the steering wheel tighter. He was almost there. He felt a small bead of sweat form on the side of his head.
I'm losing it, he thought to himself.
He saw a flock of birds flying overhead in the distance. They were small birds, or maybe they were bats. From the distance he couldn't really tell for sure. There were a lot them, though. He imagined that they all knew about him too, and were flying away from him as fast as they could. Not even the bats wanted to be near him. He didn't blame them one bit.
It was almost time. He saw his exit up ahead and took it. Coasting to a stop from the end of the ramp, he looked to make sure that all of the tools of his trade were with him. They were. He rummaged for the rudimentary map that his boss had made for him. The boss always tried to be as specific as possible when giving directions to jobs, but the handwriting was always awful. He struggled and squinted to read the street names and numbers written on the scrap of paper. He had to be very accurate as to where he went. It would be very embarrassing for everyone involved if he were to show up at the wrong place.
No one wanted that. This much was certain.
He had studied the map well enough, and was sure that he wouldn't get the address wrong. He turned down the streets as directed. As he did so, he felt himself getting closer. He was becoming more nervous now - he could feel his heart beating faster and could see the white of his knuckles as he grasped the steering wheel in a tenacious bid to cling to his thoughts and the task at hand.
As he pulled into the driveway, he took a deep breath. He knew that he would be useless if he was too nervous. He found himself worried about making critical mistakes. Mistakes that he couldn't afford to make. He didn't plan on doing any more jobs after this one, but he knew that if he didn't get this last one right then it would just cause more problems. Problems that he didn't need right now. He needed to get in there and work quickly, get the job done, and go back. Go back and attempt to set things straight.
He worked at a fever pitch, trying his best to not let his anxiousness get the best of him. His instincts took over for him now, doing the things that he couldn't think through in this mental state, but things he had done hundreds of times before. He had given up on his consciousness long ago. He didn't feel bad for what he did, not the work itself. The guilt came from the lying, and his cheating of clients. That was his boss' fault, for he was only doing as he had been taught. Not this time, however. This time he would get the job done as quickly as possible. This time he would be honest with his client. This time would be different.
Before long, he had finished. As he left, he knew that the client would only pay for the work that he'd done. No extras - not this time. He was too good at what he did to sell himself short by cheating. As he was leaving, it struck him - if he was so good at what he did, then it didn't really matter what she thought of it. If she couldn't love him and understand him in spite of what he did to make his living, then it wasn't meant to be for them. He still took pride in what he did, and if she wanted to continue with him - that would have to be good enough for her.
Even if he was just a computer technician.