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The Cart Pusher

Dreams of another life.

By Wade AstinPublished 3 years ago 8 min read

It was the same routine every morning for Wilton Matthews. Stumble out of bed at 5:45, or later, depending on how many times the snooze button was hit. Toss a couple slices of bread in the toaster, sloppily smear some peanut butter across it when it was done, and head out to work.

Wilton would always beat his manager to the store. Wilton learned quickly that his boss liked a clean lot. When Wilton first started, Frank, the store manager, would walk around the lot with him and point out cigarette butts, smushed fast food cups, and other items discarded in the massive lot of the massive discount store. “One day you’ll get inside, if you work hard”, Frank would say.

Two years later, one day has yet to come. Today was no different then the last two years it seemed. Wilton rolled into the lot, tidied up the trash the customers left behind (more like tossed out) but who was Wilton to judge. He was just a lowly cart pusher with a fancy title. His real title was Customer Response Tech. I guess the store thought it was better than cigarette butt collector or cart custodian.

As Wilton was pushing his last row of carts in, a car with many more years on it than some of the carts rolled up to Wilton. Wilton thought to himself, “I bet this guy wants me to fit a 72” in the trunk.” People always seemed to think they could fit large items into cars the size of a Geo Metro, no matter how many times Wilton tried to tell them no.

The window on the drivers side slowly rolled down. A mist that smelled like old cigarettes and discarded pizza boxes lofted out of the window.

“You’re going to need this more than me”, said a voice coming from the car. Wilton reluctantly grabbed a hold of what appeared to be a weathered little black book. “Follow every step in the book on page one, and call the client listed at slot number 72”, the voice stated.

Wilton thumbed through the pages and stared down at the vast compilation of what appeared to be business contacts and important dates. When Wilton looked up, the car was gone.

Wilton closed the black book, put it in his vest pocket and went inside to clock out. As he walked to the time clock he saw Sophia. Sophia was the flirtatious brown eyed security manager that hired Wilton when he first started.

“Hey Sophia, the weirdest thing just happened”, Wilton proclaimed. “Do you think you can check the cameras for me?”, he added.

Sophia motioned him towards the back corner office where the cameras were housed. As Wilton explained his story and watched Sophia take it all in, he got lost in a daydream. Wilton had always wanted to ask Sophia out. But he felt they were on opposite sides of the tracks. Still he sat there and imagined what it would be like to take her to a movie, get dinner, and just relax on their time off.

“Wilton? Wilton?”, Sophia echoed. “I found you at the edge of the lot but the camera cuts out momentarily and I don’t see this car you mentioned”, she explained. “Additionally, I don’t see a car on either camera shot, are you sure this was today?”.

Wilton explained it had just happened. He sheepishly apologized for wasting her time and he walked out of the office.

“Wilton, have a good day okay?”, Sophia hollered as she smiled at him and darted back into the office.

Wilton was outside himself. He went home that evening and tried to ignore the little book in his vest pocket. He kept thinking about the book and how he probably messed up any chance with Sophia. He scolded himself as he debated which was the worse offense.

Shortly into his evening the phone rang. That’s odd, Wilton thought to himself. No one calls me here. Wilton reluctantly answered his phone.

“Hello?”, he stated.

“Look, I don’t know you but I also know we don’t have much time. I found you in the little black book and you need to follow my instructions, it’s well worth your time!”, explained the voice on the other end.


The caller hung up and the line went dead.

Wilton remembered what the mystery voice in the car said. “Call every number on page one”, Wilton recalled him saying.

Wilton flipped to the cover open to page one. On page one, scribbled in black ink was the name “Jenkins” and an out of state number written beside it. Below “Jenkins” was another quickly scribbled entry that said “Best Choice Inn” and another non-local number.

Wilton slowly began to dial Jenkins. As the phone rang Wilton immediately questioned himself. He started to hang up when an elderly man answered the phone.

“This is Jenkins, you made a great choice”, the call taker stated.

“I’m, I...”, Wilton stuttered before being interrupted.

“I know who you are Wilton”, said Jenkins. “I need you to come to the Best Choice Inn on Saturday, three days from now, call the office when you arrive, and don’t forget to call the folks on page 72”, Jenkins stated and quickly hung up.

Wilton was in shock. “What is going on?”, he said to himself. Wilton feverishly flipped to page 72. Three names, and only three names were on the page. Wilton found it odd because all the other pages had at least a dozen names if not more.

Wilton was mystified as he read the three names. “Sam, Alice, and Jeffrey” he read out loud and gasped in amazement.

Sam and Alice were Wiltons parents. Jeffrey was his brother. His brother had passed away years ago and even though his parents were listed he knew the numbers weren’t correct.

Wilton was in deep but he knew he had to complete the requests. Something told him he had to do it.

He called the number to his parents first. They answered, strangely, almost immediately.

“Mom? Dad?”, Wilton questioned.

“Wilton, we know you haven’t called in a while but we want you to know what’s about to happen is life changing”, they said. “Call the other number and call us back when this is over, we love you”, they both seemed to say at the same time.

Wilton had long struggled with his brother’s death and had not talked to him months before he took his own life.

Calling a number to his dead brother seemed a bit morbid, yet Wilton dialed.

“Wilton?”, said the male voice on the other end.

“Jeffrey? I’m so...”, Wilton started but couldn’t get any more words out.

“It’s ok Wilton it’s not your fault, I’m in a better place now man”, said Jeffrey.

“I’m sorry Jeffrey, I really am”, said Wilton as the tears rolled down his face.

“Listen, go to the Best Choice Inn, call that number”, implored Jeffrey.

The line went dead. Wilton sat there and cried like he had never cried before.

Wilton woke up with his clothes still on and still in the same chair from Friday night.

Wilton realized it was Saturday and immediately propped himself up. He tossed on a coat and started his car. Wilton felt an odd confidence as he drove towards the Best Choice Inn. His GPS stated the hotel was eleven miles outside of town.

When Wilton rolled up to the hotel he looked down at the black book. What a journey. What a story he thought to himself.

The lyrics to the song on the radio seemed fitting. “Hotel California” echoed across the speakers.

Wilton flipped open the cover to the first page and dialed the number he was told

to dial.

After what seemed like an eternity a voice answered. It was an elderly woman. “Wilton, go to room 72, they’re waiting.

Wilton cautiously walked into the hotel and it seemed really eerie, especially this early in the afternoon.

No one was at the front desk but a dry erase board stationed near the door said “Be right back”.

Wilton looked around and saw an old faded room guide with the numbers 24 to 72 and an arrow pointing to the right.

Wilton walked down the hall. Music played from some of the rooms. Wilton thought to himself, “What are you doing? This is crazy? What’s going to be so life changing about this this ratty old hotel?”

Wilton walked down the hall further and approached room 72. A note on the door said “Don’t knock, please enter”. Wilton slowly turned the handle and entered the room. The room smelled gorgeous. It smelled beautiful and fresh. It didn’t smell like the rest of the hotel. A huge king bed sat in the middle of the room.

Wilton had never seen such a nice room, let alone a room with such a good vibe. Wilton had a modest apartment but it was nothing like this. Wilton could never afford something like this. “I’ll be out in a second just get comfortable”, said a soft voice from the shower area.

“Uh, ok”, said Wilton.

Wilton sat down on the edge of the bed. The bed was amazing. Wilton laid back in the bed and melted into the covers. Wilton had never been so relaxed. As Wilton laid back he began to drift away into slumber.

Wilton slept for what felt like hours.

“Honey, honey, wake up”, he heard a voice echoing in his head.

Wilton slowly began to come to. He smelled that smell again and thought he was still in the hotel.

“Babe, babe, you got a letter from Mr. Frank, your boss.

There stood Sophia in a gorgeous gown, the same gown he saw at the Best Choice Inn but only he wasn’t in the hotel.

“Babe, you must have been having a dream, I could hardly wake you.

Wilton took the letter from Sophia and read it aloud.

“Dear Wilton, I know it’s quite unusual for me to write you, but I have been thinking about doing this for some time. Last year I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I haven’t told anyone but I know I can confide in you. You’ve worked tirelessly for the last two years and haven’t missed a day of work. I’ve watched you push carts in rain, heat, and snow. I’ve heard you tell others at work about your dreams of getting a house for you and Sophia. You talk about how Sophia is a teacher and you all barely make ends meet. I understand how hard it is to do that these days. With that being said, I’m enclosing a check for $20,000”.

Wilton could barely read the last line as his eyes met Sophias and he remembered the first day he saw her and the day he asked her to marry him. Her eyes never stopped to amaze him and melt his heart.

“I want you to take this money and put a down payment on a new home and I hope you grow your family in that home and you never stop to be such a hard worker and an amazing human being”.

Wilton unfolded the letter further and there was a check for $20,000.

He looked at Sophia and they embraced.

“I love you Sophia”, said Wilton,

“I love you too Will”, Sophia replied.


About the Creator

Wade Astin

I am a writer at heart. Although my main line of work is well away from where my heart is, I still find time to dabble in one of this worlds great stress relievers, putting a pen to paper and pouring out your heart.

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