The day would end with death and destruction, yet breakfast had been nothing special. Nothing too flashy or memorable. Just pancakes and bacon. Mark may have cherished it more if he’d known it would be the last meal he’d ever have with his parents. But that’s not how the world works. People walk forward into each day holding a certain picture in their mind. They have a way of thinking how their day will go, but their thoughts, hopes or wishes don’t make reality. Reality tends to hit hard, and from out of nowhere.
In his 32 years of life, Mark Davidson had seen some serious shit, but nothing prepared him for the trajectory his life was now on. Even if the warning signs had been there, he wouldn’t have heeded them. He was hard-headed that way.
It was a beautiful day. Mark had made the short drive over to his parents’ house. He was not their only child, but he was the one they saw the most. His older brother lived in another state and rarely made his way to Kentucky. Fred and Julie Davidson planned this special trip to the flea market four or five times a year. Mark was always invited. Sometimes he would turn the offer down, but today he had decided to go along.
Whenever Mark did accept the invitation, he would drive over early in the morning and eat a home cooked breakfast. He loved walking in the front door to the sound and smell of bacon sizzling in a cast iron skillet. It reminded him of better times. Times before he had made stupid decisions and turned his life, along with the relationship with his parents, into a tangled mess.
Hester, Kentucky was a small, sleepy town. Nothing to write home about, but it had a certain welcoming feel to it. Mark couldn’t fully describe it in detail, but he thought it felt like home. People would laugh and say that it was his home, but they hadn’t understood what he actually meant. The town’s biggest attraction, bringing in folks from a number of neighboring towns and cities, was the Hester Mega Flea Market. While the majority of tables and stalls sold nothing but junk, there were a few treasures if one were willing to look hard enough. The Davidson family would go down every row in the massive area. Some trips proved fruitless, but on other days their buyer’s luck was overflowing. The day Mark’s parents died was one of the latter.
As the hours flew by, their wallets grew light. They’d made a number of trips back to the SUV to drop off their loot throughout the day. The sun had been beating down relentlessly, a clear Kentucky sky stretching out above them, but a nice breeze helped to offset the heat.
As the sun dropped lower and lower in the west, the breeze picked up and the air cooled down considerably. Summer was breathing her last warm gasps of the year. Dark billowing clouds rolled in and ominous thunder cracked far off in the distance.
“That’s as good a sign as any to start heading back home,” Fred Davidson said, looking at the threatening sky.
“Good thinking,” Mark said. “I’m starving anyway.”
They made their way through the crowds of people hurrying to find last minute deals before the rains came. The parking lot had emptied out considerably since their last trip out to the SUV.
“Is there supposed to be a storm coming in tonight?” Mark asked as he opened the car door for his mother.
“I was in such a rush to get out the door this morning that I didn’t even check,” Fred said with a shrug.
As Mark opened the door and got into the back seat he felt the first raindrop hit his right ear.
The rain came down fast and furious. Even with his father driving 20 miles per hour under the speed limit, Mark felt anxious and alert. As they headed toward the old county road that led to the Davidson farm, the rain was going sideways. It was almost impossible to make out the white lines on the jagged pavement ahead of them. The windshield wipers were flying back and forth rapidly, but to no avail.
“Maybe we should pull over and wait for the rain to die down,” Mark’s mother called out over the roar of the storm.
Her husband shook his head, “No, no, we’re so close to home, Julie. Five more minutes and we can get inside, change, and get dinner started. Who knows how long this storm will last.” Thunder cracked overhead, shaking the vehicle. “I don’t feel like sitting out on the side of the road for an hour.” Fred’s voice was firm, yet Mark caught a hint of something else. Was it fear?
By now they were within two miles of home. A left turn onto the county road and then a right turn onto the pebbled path that led to the farm and they would reach safety. Mark could see the fork in the road up ahead. His tense muscles loosened a bit.
Not too much farther now, he thought to himself.
His father eased up to the stop sign and looked both ways. They could barely see the headlights in the distance, heading toward them from the right. In the thick rain it was hard to tell how fast the vehicle was coming. Fred decided to be cautious and wait. He brought the SUV to a complete stop and turned the emergency flashers on for good measure. Within a few seconds they realized it was a semi-truck, and that it was moving quite fast. Fred was glad that he hadn’t tried to go. This was the last happy thought to ever cross Mr. Davidson’s mind.