Today is the release of our fifth and final birthday story from the Second Chances anthology: Notice to Appear by C. C. Lorenz.
Josh Campbell is handed a notice to appear in
court for a traffic offence, but his humiliation is complete when he comes face
to face with his schoolboy crush, Carter Sullivan, in the courtroom. Could this
be the start of something with Carter now that age is not an issue?
JOSH LOOKED AT the
courthouse steps looming in front of him and shook his head. The disastrous
date that had led to him being in his current position was definitely not worth
the fallout he was currently experiencing.
The guy was nice enough, but little did
Josh know that when he offered to run to the grocery store to pick up a Redbox
movie the night would end the way it did. He didn't even really know why he
accepted the date in the first place; it wasn’t as if he lived in Los Angeles
anymore. He was only visiting his parents for a few days over spring break when
he met Ben at the Apple store. Initially, he thought the guy was a bit of a
douche when he screeched into the parking lot in a yellow Porsche before
sauntering into the store as if he owned the place. However, the feeling was
quickly replaced by flattery when he turned his attention to Josh, asking him
on a date and getting his number before he left.
The next day, Ben invited Josh to his posh
bachelor pad by the ocean for dinner that night. The meal was delicious and the
company fine, but Josh definitely felt that something was missing. There wasn’t
a spark with him.
And that was when the Redbox incident
BEN HAD BEEN
cleaning up after their meal and mentioned that there was a place down the
street with Redbox if Josh wanted to pick something out for them to watch. He
even offered up the keys to his Porsche for the trip, and honestly, how could
Josh say no to that? He was secretly proud of himself for only stalling once
before getting the car out of the garage, and with no one else there to see, it
was really as if nothing had happened at all.
As he drove down the route described by
Ben, Josh noticed heavy traffic going in the opposite direction and made a
mental note to take a parallel street until absolutely necessary for him to
turn back to Ben's condo complex. When he reached the store, he picked up a
copy of Thor, which he'd missed in the theaters, along with a box of condoms
that he stuffed into his pocket.
Just because it wasn't love at first sight
didn't mean that Josh wasn't hoping to get a little action out of this date.
Ben was certainly a good-looking guy and probably had condoms back at his
place, but you never could be too careful.
On his way back, Josh took care to avoid
the traffic he’d spotted earlier when he’d left Ben’s building to pick up the
movie . . . or so he thought. Unfortunately, Josh turned one street too early
and landed himself smack dab in the middle of a traffic jam. Chastising himself
for not paying close enough attention, Josh squinted at a temporary sign
illuminated on the side of the road.
Driver's License Checkpoint
Great. No wonder there's traffic.
Digging into his back pocket, he grabbed
his wallet and fished out his driver's license. Since he didn't have a car in
San Francisco, the only thing he generally used his ID for was buying booze or
getting into a club and giving it a quick once over, everything seemed fine.
Until he noticed the expiration date in bright red lettering. His stomach fell.
It had expired on his birthday, three weeks
earlier, and Josh hadn't even noticed. His mind scrambled for an excuse to give
the police officer.
They'll understand, right? I'm sure
there's some sort of grace period for things like this.
Josh rolled the window down, next in line
to be checked. As Josh shifted into first gear to move forward, he stalled
again. His face heated and he gave the officer an apologetic smile as he
started the car again.
The officer gave him an unimpressed look in
Of course, Josh had to be driving the
flashiest car possible when this happened. Stopping next to the officer, he
gave a small smile and handed him his license.
The officer looked down, then back at Josh.
“You realize this license is expired?” he asked.
Josh stammered, “Well, I, uh, just noticed
that, and um, don't usually—”
“I'm gonna need you to pull over to the
side of the road.”
He pulled over to the area indicated by the
officer and they asked him to step out of the car as the officer started
writing him a ticket for driving with an expired license. Josh had no idea what
kind of fine to expect, but would be happy just to get out of there. As the
officer handed him the ticket, he said, with an evil glint in his eye, “We're
also gonna have to tow the car, since you can't legally drive it.”
Josh paled. “Wait, wait. It's my friend's
car. Oh God, please don't tow it. He'll kill me.”
“Sorry. There's nothing we can do,” he
said, and started radioing the tow company.
Josh resorted to begging. “Honestly, I'm
two blocks away from his place and I had no idea my license was expired or I
wouldn’t have driven.I live in San
Francisco and don't really drive much, plus it's only been expired a couple of
weeks. I can call my friend. He can walk here to drive it home . . . please,
please, please don't tow the car. Please.”
The officer let his hand fall to his side.
He let out a sigh and said, “Call him.”
Josh grabbed his phone from his pocket
before the officer could change his mind, and as he yanked it out, the small
box of condoms came flying out with it. His eyes went wide and he barked out an
embarrassed laugh, crouching quickly to snatch them off the ground. When he
looked back at the officer, he was staring at Josh with a raised eyebrow. “I'll
just, uh, over here . . .”
“That's a good idea, son.”
The phone started to ring and Josh silently
prayed that Ben would pick up. Getting voicemail was not an option he was
prepared to deal with.
Josh breathed out a sigh of relief. “Ben,
it's Josh. I need you to come down the street right now.” The whole story came
out in jumble of words and Josh had no idea how coherent he was, but Ben was by
his side in five minutes flat, slightly out of breath from running.
After the officer checked his license, he
let Ben take the keys. When they got back to his condo, they sat and watched
the movie, but the vibe of the evening had been shot. Josh knew the condoms
he’d purchased would be wasted.
He went home right after the film ended,
with apologies and empty promises to keep in touch. It wasn't until he got home
that he looked more closely at the ticket he’d received, trying to find the
amount of the fine. He groaned when he saw the box checked off next to where
the infraction was listed.