By: Brian M. Van Hise
She left first but it wasn’t important for me to follow her since I knew where Drainer lived already. He lived in the Vista West subdivision, just past the creek and small forest which separated our homes. She left first and took her car, leaving me alone once again.
Sometimes stories start in funny ways. Like, “it was a dark and stormy night” or “once upon a time”. My story itself didn’t start with a clever hook like that, but maybe I could start this part by saying it was, indeed, a dark and stormy night.
I backed my car out of the driveway and into the rain, which was pelting heavily on all sides, with no signs of letting up at all. I flipped on the windshield wipers, then quickly remembered they were broken. Fretting, I reached into the back seat to retrieve the window-cleaning squeegee I had lifted from the J&J Texaco on Route 3 earlier in the week. It was just a small bit of thievery. And I had even donated a few bucks to the local MS society fund-raiser the Texaco clerk had suggestively sold me. He made me write my name on a paper-shaped pot-of-gold cutout and when I wrote “Nixon Family” he smiled, showing a snaggle-tooth, and said: “Like the president!” I said I didn’t know as I pushed the pot-of-gold paper back to him and watched him tape it up next to 3 others. It was a $2 donation. Maybe it’s not the exact price of the plastic squeegee, but it made me feel better about stealing it.
I rolled down the driver’s side window and rolled up the sleeve on my left arm. This was how to drive in a rain storm, squeegeeing the rain away as it fell, never catching up and always behind. Something like that Sissy-fuss fellow from high school English we learned about.
I wasn’t in any particular hurry. I figured it best to actually catch her escaping from his house, so as she wouldn’t try to sweet-talk her way through whatever excuses she could conjure up about the message I’d read. Best to just park right outside his house and wait for her and then confront her about it.
I drove quickly down the darkened road, passing through the small wooded area and over the creek that would be gushing with water soon enough, from all the rainfall. There was no one else on the road. It was a Wednesday night after all and maybe all the night owls actually were playing bridge tonight and not out and about. I kept my eyes on the headlights in front of me, a bit transfixed with the constantly falling rain drops. Focusing on just one proved to be impossible as they were falling too fast. I’ve seen those pictures in magazines, not Psychology Today, but others at the newsstand, of high-frame rate cameras capturing a single drop of water splash onto a surface. Too fast for the human eye to see. And yet, we did see it, but just couldn’t slow down our own vision, our own spot in time, to really appreciate it. Still, I wanted to see it, wanted to see each of those rain drops pause in time for the briefest of moments to form that slow-shifting splash onto the hood of my —
And then I hit the woman square on, the force of the car thrusting her body forward onto the darkened road ahead. The impact had shattered the passenger-side headlight and by the time I was able to stop the car, I had already rolled once over her body.
I sat there, both hands on the wheel. I put the car into reverse and backed up, turning the wheel a bit so as not to crush her head. I focused the remaining headlight onto her limp body. I moved the squeegee quickly back and forth over the windshield to clear up my view. She was a jogger, wearing running clothes. Her bloody hand was clutching her MP3 player and I could see the headphone wires snaking up into the covers of her hoodie. A blond ponytail skirted out from along her shoulder, having come undone by the impact and already beginning to clump up with the dirt from the pavement.
I felt bad for the poor girl’s hair getting dirty.
I kept the car running and looked at my watch. By now, Linda was probably well into her session with Jack Drainer. If I was going to confront her, I needed to get going.
I looked back at the dead, helpless woman I had hit. I would have to deal with her later.
I reached over with my left hand and popped the trunk.
To be continued…