I didn’t notice the note under my windshield until I’d already gotten into the car and put the key in the ignition. Immediately, a sequence of future events came into my mind. I would open the car door. I wouldn’t take the keys out of the ignition as I got out. I would automatically push the lock button down. I wouldn’t want to take the chance that I might get a grease smear on my white shirt, so instead of just reaching over and grabbing the note, I would slam the door shut and walk around for it. I would pull the note out from under the windshield wiper and unfold it. It would be folded in a very complicated manner, and my unfolding would be a long and frustrating experience. Once I had it open, I would see that there was only a single sentence written in pencil. The sentence would read, “You’ve just locked your keys in your car.”
And it would be true. Clutching the note in one hand and trembling with hope and fear, I would reach down with the other hand and seize the door handle. But the door really would be locked. I would cup my hands around my eyes and peek in. Since I’d still be holding the note, I would get a small paper cut above my left eye.
Yes, there would be the keys. So close and yet I might as well have been looking through a supernaturally powerful telescope at them on the moon.
I would now be late to an important meeting this morning. It would be the last straw, the very last straw. The Big Guy would sadly fire me. I mean to say he would pretend to be sad. I would be mostly pissed. I would say things that would forever burn my bridges in this business. Word would get around that I was not only late, but hard to work with and generally unpleasant in stressful situations.
Blood from the paper cut would run into my left eye, and I would wipe it away and smack my palm against the glass of the driver’s side window and leave a bloody handprint.
Maybe I should kill myself. I was already bleeding — no need to cut my wrists. I could just wait it out and bleed to death from my face right there in the driveway.
Or I could go into the house and get my spare car key if it were not for the fact that my house key was also locked in my car. I could try breaking into the house, but I had already set the alarm. It would go off. The security company would call the police. By the time I convinced them I was the homeowner, I would already be late, and the Big Guy would have already decided who was to get my office.
So, in order to derail that sequence of events and cheat Fate, I carefully removed the key from the ignition and put the whole bunch of keys into the front right pocket of my pants. I got out of the car and automatically pushed down the lock, and, not wanting to get my white shirt dirty, closed the door and stepped around and snatched up the note and negotiated the complexity of its origami.
Inside it looked like this.
There was a local phone number.
There was a treble clef and staff drawn in blue ballpoint pen and seven musical notes.
I didn’t recognize the tune, but I understood the message.
I had been at the point where it might have gone either way, and I had made the right turn.
I had not locked my keys in the car. I would be on time for my big meeting.
The Big Guy would love me.
My future was bright.
To seal the deal, I got out my phone and called the number on the note and made arrangements to have my piano turned just enough to catch the spring sunlight.
Ray Vukcevich’s fiction has appeared in many magazines including Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, SmokeLong Quarterly, Night Train, Polyphony, and Hobart, and has been collected in Meet Me in the Moon Room from Small Beer Press. His novel The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces is a mystery from St. Martin’s. He also works as a programmer in a couple of brain labs at the University of Oregon. His fiction has been published twice in Flash Fiction Online: “Suddenly Speaking” in September 2009 and “Note From The Future” in December 2009. Read more about him at sff.net/people/rayv.
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