I was sitting in the middle of an open air courtyard, finishing my roast beef on rye, when a simple little flyer caught my eye.
*Curlon Deals. Text CURLON to get local deals right to your phone.*
It reminded me of a coupon texting service that popped up around my university in my last year. It was a great deal; free fries with a pita every Monday, buy one get one tacos.
I signed up, hoping this would be the same.
For about a month, I didn’t hear a peep from Curlon. I assumed it had shriveled on the vine.
One evening, on the considerable walk through the company garage to my car, I got a text from Curlon.
“Take the I-10.”
What the hell kind of deal was that? The I-10 was always packed. The 202 was a much calmer drive.
That day, however, the 202 had come to a dead stop. Literally. The radio said a person in an old Mustang had entered the freeway with a pistol.
He fired into vehicles near him, killing six people instantly. The resulting accidents killed a handful more. Police had arrested the suspect, but couldn’t find the gun he used.
Drivers were urged to notify police if they saw anything.
A week later, I go my second text.
As soon as I had read the text, my phone rang in my hand. I jumped, getting a few questioning looks from my coworkers.
“Uh, hi. I was told to call?” said a timid male voice on the other end.
I laughed. “I was told to answer.”
“They said you could drop me off at the VA Hospital in Gilbert to visit my mom.”
I rolled my eyes. Was Curlon trying to get me to be a fucking Uber driver? But the hospital *was* on my way home.
Turns out the kid, his name was Ken, worked in the bank just north of my building. His car had been smashed up in the wreck on the 202 and it was in the shop.
When I got home, I found an envelope taped to my door with $1000 inside. Curlon deals, indeed!
The next night, Curlon wanted me to drive to an old industrial park. A guy in a suit got in the back seat. He had a white silk bag over his head.
Curlon texted me an address.
The bagged man was silent the entire ride. When I arrived at an abandoned motel, Ken stopped me. His eyes were puffy and red like he had been crying. He held a gun in his right hand.
“Jesus, Ken! Where’d you get that?”
“That pile up on the freeway. They say they can cure my mom.” A tear ran down his cheek. He pulled the hooded man from my car.
“Stop answering their texts,” Ken said. “It never stops.”
As I drove away, I heard two shots. Then my phone jingled with a new text.
“Your passenger unsubscribed. Don’t follow Ken's advice.”