Accidents Waiting to Happen (53 page)

Vee8 threaded his way through the Sausalito streets avoiding downtown.  He didn’t fancy a run-in with the cops.  He headed for Highway 1.  The narrow, coastal road snaked and heaved, and it would put him and the BMW to the test.  It contained more than enough thrills for a Wednesday night.

He got clear of the town.  The full moon gave him a clear view of the road ahead well beyond his headlight beams.  He brought his speed up to eighty-five.  The turnoff to the two-lane highway was coming up on his left.

As he approached the four-way, Vee8 eased the BMW hard over to the curb to get a faster turn-in for the left turn.  A Honda Civic sedan approached the intersection from Vee8’s right but it didn’t bother him.  He was on the through road and had the right of way.  The Civic would have to stop.  Even if he didn’t have the right of way, so what?  No one in their right mind was going to argue the point when a car was driving at breakneck speed. 

Vee8 stepped off the gas and jumped onto the brake.  Everyone in the car was thrown forward against the seatbelts as the BMW dived on its suspension.  He watched the speedometer dial sag as the speed was sloughed off and ignored the whoops of his boys.

Vee8’s smiled slipped.  The Civic wasn’t slowing.  It wasn’t traveling as fast as he was; no more than fifty, but it wasn’t going to stop. 

“I don’t think he’s stopping,” Donkey said flatly, seeing what Vee8 had seen.

Donkey’s words silenced everyone.

Vee8 pressed down on the brake harder and thumped the horn twice with his fist.

The Civic showed no sign of stopping for the BMW.  It leapt across the intersection and into Vee8’s path.  Everyone in the BMW swore and braced themselves for the impact.  Vee8 stamped on the brakes and the anti-lock system went into action.  He didn’t bother to turn onto Highway 1 as he’d planned.  It would have just made the collision worse.  The best he could hope for was to tee-bone the bastard and do as much damage to him and as little to himself as he could.

For a moment, Vee8 thought he was going to get away with it.  The Civic was passing out of his field of vision faster than expected, but not quite fast enough.  The BMW clipped the
Civic’s
rear panel and wraparound light cluster.  A deafening bang echoed through the car as sheet steel collided with sheet steel.  The Civic wiggled after its glancing blow and carried on its merry way unhindered.  The BMW was less fortunate.  The car plowed on, veering right, and struck the curb hard.  The front wheels
jackhammered
into the wheel arches and relayed their agony through the steering wheel.  Vee8’s hands and arms tingled in sympathy.  The car leapt the curb and came to a halt in the field beyond the pavement. 

“Christ, my head,” Donkey whined.  He put a hand to his nose, checking for blood.  There wasn’t any.  He touched the dashboard where he’d smashed his face.

Vee8 checked the rear-view mirror and found D.J. and Trey were bleeding from where they’d banged heads.  Both were looking dumbly at each other and moaning about whose head hurt more. 
Christ, what a
clusterfuck
, Vee8 thought.

“Am I bleeding?” Donkey asked and jabbed his face in Vee8’s direction.

“No, you’re not, you dumb shit,” Vee8 said.

The BMW had stalled and Vee8 tried to start the car.  He was greeted by an overlong electronic whine before the engine caught and fired.  He jammed the selector into reverse and stamped on the gas.  The wheels spun on the soft earth and the car went nowhere.  The tires and the engine whined. 

“Come on, you bastard,” Vee8 hissed.

As if by command, the tires bit into the earth, found traction and the car lurched back.

“Where are we going?” Donkey asked.

“We’re going to get that son of a bitch.”

The BMW bumped down off the curb, raced away from the scene of the collision and joined the coast road as planned.  The engine sounded off key and the steering sucked.  Only one headlight cut through the darkness, the passenger-side light was obviously lost.  But none of this bothered Vee8.  The coast road went on for miles with no intersections to any other major roads.  He had no doubt that he would catch the Civic driver.  It was just a matter of when.

Vee8’s passengers were still bleating about their injuries and the accident. 

“Shut the fuck up.” Vee8 shouted.  “Keep your eyes open.  Yell when you see that bastard Civic.”

Vee8 scanned the fields to his right and the beach to his left.  Deep thoughts of what he would do to the Civic driver when he got a hold of him clogged his mind.  It wasn’t the first time he’d used a vehicle as a weapon and it wouldn’t be the last.

Vee8 caught sight of his quarry in a twisting section descending towards the ocean then lost him when he hit a series of switchbacks.  He drove miles without seeing him again.  He turned to faith that the Civic remained ahead and his faith was rewarded on the descent into the town of Stinson Beach.

“There it is.  Down there.”  Donkey pointed at the beach falling away from the roadside to their left.

The Civic, with its passenger side taillight snuffed out, sat untidily on the beach. 

Vee8 swung the BMW left onto a private road the Civic had taken.  He didn’t stop at the road’s edge.  He followed the Civic driver’s lead and drove onto the beach.  He bumped the BMW over the curb and the car slithered on the sand, the tires failing to grip the shifting surface.  The car tore down the sloping beach before crashing into a sand dune where it leveled out. 

Vee8 and his crew flung the doors open, leapt from the stricken BMW and charged down the beach.  The Civic sat cocked at an angle to the rolling waves, with the driver’s door open and the engine running.  Beyond the car, the headlights picked out its driver, an East Indian, standing at the water’s edge.

The broad-shouldered man stood some six inches taller than Vee8.  He might have the strength advantage but Vee8 doubted the guy possessed the fighting skills.  Not that Vee8 cared.  His blood was up.  The prick was going down.

 “Hey, bitch,” Vee8 shouted.  “We need to talk.”

The man didn’t react.  He stared out across the darkened ocean with the moon reflected on its surface.  Vee8 heard the man mumbling something but couldn’t make out what he was saying.

“What’s that?  I can’t hear you,” he barked in a mocking tone.

The man took a step forward into the waves.  That stopped Vee8 in his tracks.

Vee8 glanced back at his boys and found they'd already given up the chase.  They'd picked up the strange vibe early.  Vee8 had been too pissed off to see it. 

He gestured to his crew for answers.  Donkey shrugged at him with a what-the-fuck expression plastered across his face.

The man strode out further.  The water lapped over his knees.

There was something very wrong here.  It looked pretty obvious what it was.  Vee8 wasn’t sure he wanted to be part of this but he already was.  Slowly, he followed the man to the water’s edge, but no further.  This guy might get lonely and want to take someone with him.

“Hey, Gandhi,” Vee8 said.  “What are you doing?”

Vee8 had hoped the slur would provoke a reaction, but the Indian didn’t respond.  He continued to wade out, chanting his incantation.

“Hey, guy.  It don’t have to be this way,” Vee8 offered.  He looked down at his feet.  A wave licked at his
Lugz’s
, chilling his toes, and he edged back.

“I think we should get the hell out of here,” Donkey suggested.

Vee8 turned to face him.

“He’s right,
Vee
,” D.J. echoed.

“I don’t think we should get mixed up in this,” Trey added.

“But we can’t just let him kill himself,” Vee8 said.

“Can’t we?  Just watch me,” Donkey said and started to back away.  D.J. and Trey followed suit.

Vee8 swore under his breath and chased out into the waves after the guy.  He caught his breath the moment the ice-cold water hit him.  Its chill climbed up into his core, but it didn’t stop him from reaching the Indian.  Vee8 reached out and placed a gentle hand on the man’s shoulder, which stopped him in his tracks.  The strong surf thrust against them, urging them back to shore.  Vee8 hoped the guy would take the hint. He took the man’s hesitation as a positive sign.

“You don’t have to do this,” Vee8 said.  “Nothing can be that bad.”

The Indian turned to Vee8.  “I have done a terrible thing and I can’t be forgiven.  I must pay for it.  This is the only way.”

Vee8 could have argued with man to get him to see sense, but he knew there was no point.  He’d seen a lot of broken people.  Fathers and mothers beaten down by mistakes.  Friends lost to booze or drugs.  No matter how far gone they were, they still clung to hope.  While they hung on, they could be saved.  But not the Indian.  He’d let go.  Vee8 had never witnessed total hopelessness before, but he saw it in the Indian’s eyes.  He’d surrendered to whatever haunted him.  There was nothing Vee8 could do for him. 

“I have to do this,” the man said.

Vee8 nodded and removed his hand from the man’s shoulder.

The Indian smiled and resumed walking out to sea.  Vee8 watched him go.  The man’s final gesture was hypnotic in its incomprehensibility.  But by the time the Indian was waist deep, Vee8 had managed to wrench his gaze away and was heading back to shore.

When he reached dry land, Vee8 glanced back at the suicidal man just in time to see a wave wash over his head.

It was obvious the Civic driver wasn’t turning back.

 

 

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