Ben Shipley was a menace to society behind the wheel of his sleek, new Camaro. He was a media consultant with not enough hours in the day, and when he climbed into that posh leather interior and cranked up, driving was usually the last thing on his mind. Multi-tasking came second nature to him: driving, eating, doing paperwork, and talking on the phone were things better gotten out of the way in one blow, in his opinion.

As he drove along 2nd Avenue to the sound of an overly twangy country ballad, he was stuffing his face with the last of a tuna-fish sandwich and fantasizing about a cute, young girl he had been introduced to the day before. A carnal smile played on Ben's face. Suddenly, lunch had somehow become an erotic ordeal.

When Ben veered off onto Broad Street, his cell began to ring, sliding across the seat as it vibrated. With practiced speed, he flipped off the radio and discarded his trash in the backseat before reaching over and answering the call.

"Yeah," Ben's greeting was unorthodox, but suited him well.

"Well hello to you too, asshole," A vibrant laughter rung out from the other end, "You know who this is?"

Ben thought for a moment, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder as he drove.

"You're no fun. This is Ray Hampton. Remember me?"

A flash of recognition caught on Ben's features and he chortled dumbly, "Ray Hampton," He shook his head, "How the hell are you doing? Haven't talked to you…since I moved."

"I know. But I was in town and I thought I'd give you a ring." Ray said.

"You're in town?"

"Yeah, on business. I'm not working for Baker Media anymore. Than son of a bitch screwed me over big time."

"He seemed to do that best." Ben said, widening his indifferent expression into a smile. He had quit after Baker "screwed" him, lingered in town for a while, and then moved to Atlanta to find bigger and better opportunities. He was now his own boss, and that freedom was priceless.

"Well I didn't skip out of Columbus like you did, but I did find another job with the local paper. They have me traveling around a lot, especially to Atlanta."

Ben caught glimpse of a red light just in time to slam on the brakes and stop. He had been admiring a tall, blonde bombshell on the sidewalk, not paying attention to Ray or the road.

"I see," He responded, not sure what his old friend had said, "You still with Hannah?"

Ben could hear Ray sigh, and he assumed the worst.

"We're separated. Things aren't looking good. I don't know what happened."

Ben wanted to speak his mind to Ray—that Hannah wasn't very attractive and he could do much better, and that life was more fun anyway without some moody dame tying you down. But those sentiments seemed inappropriate at the time and he instead opted for a simple, "I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I'm so busy with this new job that it's probably for the best anyway." Ray was obviously lying.

"Looks like we're two extremely eligible bachelors again. How about a little celebration, to usher in a new period in your life?" Ben proposed, accelerating as the light switched to green. The truck in front of him seemed determined to move at a snail's pace, and Ben blew the horn a few times. The vehicle seemed just to go slower, taunting him.

"A celebration? You mean like lunch or something?" Ray asked.

"Sure. Lunch." Ben's stomach turned over at the thought of more food, but he could at least grab a drink. A gap finally appeared in the lane next to him and he swiftly filled it. As he passed the lethargic ford pickup, he offered the driver his middle finger.

"That sounds great," Ray said enthusiastically.

"Okay. Where are you now?"

"Give me one of those," Ray was talking in the background, "Ben?"

"Yeah." This was getting old. The revelation that Ben never cared for Ray much suddenly hit him, and he nearly had the mind to fake some interference and hang up. Of course, he wouldn't call back.

"Sorry, I was buying some cigs. Anyway, I'm…" Ray paused, "I'm on Broad Street. Near the Atlanta Bread Company."

"No shit. I'm heading that way right now."

"You're on Broad?"

"Have been for an eternity," He looked in his mirror for the clear to change lanes, "Slow people tick me off."

"Can't afford to be slow nowadays." Ray chuckled.

"Hey, why don't we meet at Brewster's Pub? It's across the street from you… then down just a little further. It's hard to miss."

"Okay. I'm heading there now."

"All right." Ben realized now that he wasn't that thirsty either. Oh well. This would be better than working.

"What are you driving now? Still that old Lincoln?" Ray asked in a higher-than-thou tone.

"Nope," Ben smirked and patted the dash of his car, "Brand spankin' new Camaro, actually. I'm a little more successful than I used to be."

"My God. Nice." Ray sounded flabbergasted; "I'll just stick my foot in my mouth now."

Ben smiled. Knowing he was on top made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Ahead, he could just see the corner where Ray said he was at. The traffic seemed to have slacked off a bit in Ben's favor. He sped up a bit.

"I think I see you."

Ben had nearly forgotten that Ray was still on the phone, and he looked from side to side to see if he could get a visual on him.

"Cherry red?" Ray asked.

"That's me." He was craning his neck in an attempt to find Ray. Still nothing. Come to think of it, he didn't remember clearly what his friend looked like, which posed a slight problem in his attempt to pick him out from the crowd. He was always bad with recognizing people he hadn't seen in a while. He'd had more than a few awkward moments when a person had approached him, and he had to pretend he knew who they were through the whole conversation.

"Yep. You look cocky as always. New hairstyle, too?"

"Uhh, maybe." Did Ray have brown hair? Or was it red? Perhaps black.

"Here comes the king of the road!"

The incessant chatter on the other end was quickly annoying Ben. He bit his lip, splitting his attention between the search for Ray and the road.

"Wave to me or something. I don't see you," Ben asked, almost commanded, Ray. A tall man in a blue-collared shirt flailed his arms immediately in response. So Ray DID have brown hair. How could he have forgotten?

"There you are. Nice tie. Bugs Bunny doesn't seem very professional, though."

Suddenly, a thud. Ben was jolted forward a bit, and he put his foot down hard on the brakes. He was still looking sideways. His eyes had met directly with Ray's now.

"My God…" Ray had his hand over his mouth, and his hazy-green eyes were wide.

Ben watched as pedestrians began to move towards his car, all looking frightened. He also noticed something else—he was stopped directly over a crosswalk. He didn't want to move. He knew what he would see.

"Ben?" Ray hadn't budged from his spot by the newsstand, "Ben?"

Ben sank back in his seat and tangled his hands in his hair. All eyes were on him—him and the bleeding woman lying facedown in the middle of the street. His phone slipped out from his hand, lubricated by a thick flow of sweat. He bowed forward and let his head rest on the steering wheel.

"This isn't happening," He told himself. But it was. It had.