Aside from having the name of derivatives trader, Braaaad has made a couple of obvious mistakes that mar an often quite fine story about existential angst and awful parenting.
The good stuff first: there’s some really true, it’s-not-funny-at-all-and-that’s-why-I-can’t-stop-laughing stuff about how bad or disengaged a father the protagonist is. Unable to meet the kid on his intellectual level, incurious about his interests, drunk most of the time, unengaged in activities (when they do do some real father-son stuff, it just warrants a couple of paragraphs), so wrapped up in his own head he doesn’t really think about the kid’s feelings, mostly desperate to get away.
And the metaphor of the always-crowded California highway — an endless stream of identical cars, their lights visible for a couple seconds — is a bold, dire, contemporary update of the bird-in-a-banqueting hall metaphor.
But, you know. It should be obvious to anyone that the second paragraph of this story should be the first paragraph of this story should be the first paragraph, and the first paragraph of the story should be the zeroeth paragraph. This isn’t fiction, this is the backstory and psychological grounding that Braaad ought to be carry in his head as he shows us the protagonist’s life. There are a few other argh-Brad-show-don’t-tell moments throughout; we would get — we really and truly would get, without being told — that this guy is fundamentally unconvinced of the worthwhileness of life, from the world as he sees it and moves through it.
Also, there’s the whole scene at the end where he gets his palm read late at night and is told by some mysterious striking woman the reasons for unhappiness, and he tears up. And then, to skirt cliche, Braaad has the woman cruelly charge him 20 bucks, because the world is indifferent even when it understands.
Here’s a tip for any aspiring writers out there: if you write a scene and are so concerned that it’ll come off as a cliche that you throw in a cruel kicker to undercut the meaning of the scene and prove your awareness of fiction conventions… hey, how about maybe instead you just leave the scene out of your story entirely?