As he gripped the wheel of his pearl-white Porsche, a dark idea was taking shape in the mind of Harrison Quinn.
“I must end it all…”
The gloom deepened to a point of madness as he drove.
Then, just as his desperation became unbearable, panic burning, he saw a hitchhiker in the distance. Harrison felt an inexplicable, overwhelming desire to stop.
The passenger was tall and slim. He wore a full beard, flecked with grey. Wrinkles creased the tanned skin around his eyes.
“Don’t do it,” he said unexpectedly, after the two had driven in silence for some time.
Surprised, Harrison just stared at the road.
“If you lose the baubles,” continued the passenger, “is that really the end?”
There was a thudding in Harrison’s temples. His knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. After a moment he exploded, angrily. “Who the hell do you think you are, asking me that?”
But the passenger was silent again. Harrison’s heart still pounded. There was a palpable, indescribable tension in the car.
It remained so for some time. Then, as they approached a familiar interchange, the traveler finally spoke again.
“Where is your heart?”
A longing filled Harrison. He knew the answer.
“My heart is here, on this coast,” he whispered hoarsely, “With the ghost of my Dad.”
The passenger nodded, “Drop me here, please.”
Harrison was curiously fortified by the mysterious encounter. Never would he otherwise have had the resilience to survive. He lost all his assets and narrowly avoided a jail term. He staggered through a crushing, acrimonious divorce.
But eventually Harrison Quinn followed his heart and returned to the small seaside village where he grew up. Before long, in response to a powerful, lingering desire rooted in his youth, he vanished for days into the mountains which embraced the coast.
He returned exhilarated, darkly tanned, and with a heavy beard. In his small cottage near the beach, he took a long shower. Then, as he prepared to shave, he noticed his reflection. Catching his breath, Harrison stared in shock at the face of the mysterious hitchhiker.