On Friday nights, he drives.
He drives starting twenty minutes before rush hour in suburbia - four-thirty, most nights - but on Friday he leaves a little early because rush hour comes a little sooner. He leaves twenty minutes before rush hour because the intersection is twenty minutes from his house.
It's a little before four-thirty, right now, and he's there, doing his first round. He's sitting pushed back from the steering wheel, right arm straight out, shades on. He comes from their right, from Mill Plain Street, signaling left onto Sturges. Across is a regular with a red volvo, and she knows the deal with this intersection even if she doesn't know the twenty-year-old waving her on has waved her on thirteen times before. With a curt nod in his direction she makes her her turn. He cuts left right on her tail, slowing up bumper-even to the car behind her. The guy coming the other way on Mill Plain slides through after him.
He makes two more lefts and then starts over - Mill Plain to Sturges, letting someone go, taking his turn, and then slowing up so the car coming the other way can move. He does this every day at rush hour because there should really be a light at this intersection. He gets annoyed about little stuff like that. His high school girlfriend said it was cute.
His sister calls him and asks for a ride to her friend's house. He says no and feels bad, but he's busy and they need him here. If there's anyone who could make him leave his post it would probably be his sister, but even then it isn't likely to happen. On Fridays the intersection is a little more jammed than usual, and he knows it better than anyone. He herds his flock carefully.
His sister is a freshman at the same high school he went to. She's the kind of girl that seems to have it all: good friends, a junior boyfriend, a spot on the varsity field hockey team, fantastic grades. She's smart - that's for damn sure - and she's really the only one he trusts. She understands him.
He slots up in the queue for a third time, glancing around, eyes sharp, ending up helping a nervous looking teenager get past the intersection. As he pulls around a fourth time, he thinks about his old high school friends and wonders when they'll get a break from college. Probably in April.
By the seventeenth turn around, the intersection has thinned out. He makes one more left, letting a middle-aged man in a Chevy go in front of him. No one is coming the other way, so he decides to call it a night. The intersection will be okay without him.
He stops at the Burger King down the street and gets the number three with no fries - he's trying to shape up a little bit. He eats his dinner in the dark parking lot, contemplating what he'll do for the rest of the evening. Ultimately, he decides on a movie.
He tries to throw his garbage into the can from the curb, but he misses. With a resigned sigh, he picks up the trash and drops it in the can. On the way back to the car, he absent-mindedly wonders what his ex-girlfriend is doing right now. Maybe playing the clarinet. That had been an old inside joke between them.
He drives away.