Al Roberts: That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you.
There is a fatalistic quality in Detour. In fact the movie is like a nightmare: The events seem to roll inevitably to a fatal end. The film opens with a road… in a bar Al Roberts (Tom Neal) hears the song I can’t believe you’re in love with me and his thoughts are taken to the past.
He had begun a hitch-hiking trip from New York to L.A. (where his girlfriend was waiting for him). A driver called Charles Haskell Jr. offered to take him directly to LA. However his sudden death took Al by surprise:
Al Roberts: (narrating the story) Until then I had done things my way, but from then on something stepped in and shunted me off to a different destination than the one I'd picked for myself.
Thinking that the police will never believe his version and he may be accused of murder he hides the body and goes away with the car using Haskell's identity. Later he gives a lift to Vera (Ann Savage) who happened to know Charles and blames Al for his death… He is trapped by her and is just a puppet in her hands..
Vera’s accidental death is another destiny trap surrounding Al. The narrator is always surrounded by a dark or foggy atmosphere and never seems to have a chance:
Al Roberts: Yes. Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all.