CHAPTER 3 – FATE
But that was all in the past now. This trip was about closure. Jeff reached over into the passenger seat and popped the lid on the cooler, reached inside and grabbed an ice-cold Corona. He paused to stare at it for a moment, mesmerized by the bubbles, before placing it between his legs and then pulled the lid off, re-opening the cut on his thumb. That was when he blew by the police officer. The officer had his sirens on and was in the middle of pulling over someone doing 75MPH when Jeff roared by.
The officer quickly gave up on the little fish and headed after Suzy. Jeff was as completely oblivious to the sirens and flashing lights behind him as he was when they were in front of him moments ago. When he finally noticed the pretty lights dancing in the black sky, they reminded him to take another hit from the joint sitting in the cup holder. “Whoa, close one. Almost forgot about you, sweetie” Jeff sighed as he swapped the beer for the weed and inhaled.
As the officer started to close in, Jeff caught sight of him in the rear view mirror and in a panic, fumbled and dropped the joint into his lap. He clumsily knocked it around and around, burning himself over and over and the car veered and swerved chaotically over the road. Finally Jeff grabbed the joint but as he pulled it out, he hit the shifter and put the car into neutral. Realizing it, his mind wanted him to reach for the shifter and get back in gear.
Unfortunately the wiring between his mind and body was saturated with beer and he instead grabbed hold of the emergency brake. The police officer had moved up to try and get ahead of Jeff and when Suzy suddenly spun wildly out of control, the officer had no chance to avoid the collision. The powerful Mustang crashed into the cruiser and sent them both sliding into the dark woods. Suzy flipped over twice, then landed back on her wheels before roaring through a ditch and then into a tree. A huge limb from the tree smashed through the window and pushed straight through the driver side seat. It would have pierced right through Jeff’s heart had he been wearing his seatbelt and still been in the car.
His luck was still playing games with him. Was he so impossibly lucky to be alive? Or just too pathetically unlucky to die? Jeff lay back in the dirt for a few minutes to think about it as he looked up at the stars. It wasn’t until the urge for another drink hit him that he remembered he had just been in an accident and had run a cop off the road.
He was cut and, or, bruised almost everywhere. His face, legs and hands were especially burning and he was dizzy as hell, and not the kind of dizzy he enjoyed. It was the really, really bad kind. Suzy was toast. Her hood was popped and steam was bellowing out of every end. She was now more of a treehouse than car. Clearly Jeff’s luck was still intact. Suzy’s on the other hand had run out. The second tree was just too much for her.
Jeff burst out laughing as he thought of a plan. The cop had a car. He could take the cop car and then he could drink and drive all he wanted because he’d be the cop. He walked over into the forest towards the cruiser. It hadn’t flipped or spun, which was probably worse since it just barreled ahead at full speed into the forest. It had hit the giant tree so hard that it was hard to tell which parts were car and which were tree.
Jeff crept closer, worried the officer would come up to arrest him at any moment, but as he got beside the car he saw that the officer wouldn’t be arresting anyone anytime soon. The car had crumpled like an accordion and the officer’s body appeared to have been snapped almost completely in half. “Shit” Jeff cursed as he realized he wouldn’t be able to use the cruiser after all.
Then reality slapped him across the face. The radio burst to life with chatter, or had it been chattering the entire time? The officer had radioed in the pursuit. Dispatch was aware that the officer wasn’t responding and indicated that a helicopter was enroute. Jeff didn’t know much about anything, but he had watched the show COPS a few times and knew that once a helicopter was called in, the bad guys were usually screwed. Right now he was the bad guy.
He stumbled around, tripping over bushes and getting branches to the face. This area of forest was wilder than he had ever been in, or seen on TV for that matter. Then it occurred to him that navigating through the brush would have been a lot easier if he had brought a machete and vowed to carry one around from now on.
He contemplated going back for the cop’s shotgun or even a flashlight, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to find his way back now. With the way his head was pounding and his thoughts were erratically bouncing about, it was impossible to know how long he had been drudging through woods before he came across the old clapboard chapel.