DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE by Robert Petyo

As he slowed to the red light, Jarrod texted his wife. At the blare of a horn, he turned to his left and saw a woman in the car next to him leaning across her seat, poking her finger at him and cupping one hand to her ear.

“Screw you,” Jarrod said as he shot her a middle finger salute.

A horn from behind him told him the light had changed.

“All right,” he snapped as he hit the gas and squealed through the intersection.

The woman was driving a red sedan with a “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker, and Jarrod saw that she had moved into the left turning lane as they approached the next intersection.

Bitch, he thought, as he slipped over behind her. I’ll use my phone whenever I damn well please.

She turned left when the green arrow came on and he followed, pressing the send button on his phone as he did. Once they were heading east on Fulton Street, he got right up on her ass and saw her startled face in her rear-view mirror.

She made a sudden right onto Orange Street and he squealed his tires to follow her.


He checked his phone and read the return text from Molly. “Carter’s is fine.”

Normally the thought of a quiet dinner with Molly at their favorite restaurant would soothe his raging heart, and he let his eyes drift closed for a moment, trying to force himself to relax. But he couldn’t relax, not only because of the bitch in the red sedan, but also because at this nice quiet dinner he was planning to tell Molly the truth. He had cashed in his insurance policy to get in on the ground floor of Conrad’s dot com company. Sounded great. Unfortunately, he recently found out that Conrad was vacationing in France spending all the startup money.

She would be furious. If he survived this night with her, he would have to figure out some way to replenish their savings. They really had little else than his insurance policy. They had been planning to cash it in at the right moment.

Falling for Conrad’s scam wasn’t the right moment.

He realized he had lost the bitch in the red sedan, so he turned right to circle back to the Avenue and head for home.

His phone dinged. Molly again. “What should I wear?”

He smiled and texted, “Something sexy.” Get her mind on love making and he might make it through the night without getting bashed on the head. They fought often, but the sex was always great.

“Where are you?”

“Sorry,” he texted. “Be home soon.”

A brown Ford cut in front of him. That looked like Fritz’s car, but he usually left the office before him and lived in the other direction. He should have been heading south.

A nagging thought about the last time he and Molly had seen Fritz at a party made him decide to follow him.

The phone dinged.

He slowed as he reached for the phone.

“I can’t wait.”

Smiling, he gripped the phone tighter and worked his thumb over the screen. “I can’t wait either,” he texted. At the sound of someone’s horn he glanced up and swung back into his lane.

A ding.

“It’s going to be a special night,” she responded.

His heart hammered as he stared at that message. To Molly, a special night meant wil–

Everything exploded as he shot forward. The steering wheel slammed his sternum and he continued up into the disintegrating windshield. Blackness pressed down on him.

 * * *

Molly kept staring at her screen, waiting for a response from Jarrod. Maybe something bad had finally happened on that busy avenue that he took home every day.

She’d give it another ten minutes, then she’d have Fritz drive the Avenue looking for any accidents. If it was only a minor fender bender, they could work something else out. She smiled as she sipped from the tall wine glass on the end table. Or she could just try again tomorrow, and the next day, until he finally killed himself. She had been trying for a week now, ever since Fritz had suggested that Jarrod’s big insurance policy would be the perfect startup money for their new life together.

It was only a matter of time, she thought with another sip of wine. Jarrod just couldn’t put down that phone.

Robert Petyo’s crime stories have appeared in small press magazines and on the web most recently at “Yellow Mama,” and in “Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths,” and “Pulp Modern.” He has also published some science fiction in small press magazines, and in the deep dark past he wrote three science fiction novels under three different names. In his other life, he is happily married and has three grown children. He lives in northeastern Pennsylvania, is recently retired from the US Postal Service and enjoys playing with his adorable grandson. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2018 Robert Petyo. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.