{December 11, 2012}   Wrecked


When I was a senior, Daddy gave me his green 1968 Pontiac LeMans to drive to school.  Although it looked like an old lady’s car, it was actually the fastest car on the road. At traffic lights, I barely touched the gas and the LeMans would take off, leaving other cars in the dust. I was careful not to punch the gas because I didn’t like going too fast. Besides, I heard about a guy at school,  Alpo, who was arrested for “illegal acceleration.”  He got pulled over by a cop who didn’t like his long hair. After searching Alpo’s car and not finding anything illegal, he charged Alpo with “illegal acceleration”. When Alpo’s buddy picked him up from the police station, the cop was smirking.  So Alpo went up to the cop and said, “I guess this was your biggest bust of the day, huh?” and the cop replied, “It wasn’t my biggest, but it was my best.” That’s how the criminal justice system worked in Smyrna.

Since I had my own car, it was tempting to leave school for lunch. School lunches contained strange looking meat and I was a vegetarian. So I’d usually skip eating and drink a carton of chocolate milk with Jamie in the cafeteria. One day at lunch, our friend Margaret sat down with us and announced that she just got a new car. She was anxious to take it for a spin and would we like to sneak out at lunch for a little ride? Of course we would! It was risky because I couldn’t afford to get into trouble for skipping. But I figured we’d be back in plenty of time for fourth period.

I climbed in the back and Jamie rode in the passenger seat. It was a shiny, red car–not as fast as my LeMans, of course, but a real eye catcher. We’d just pulled out of the parking lot when Jamie yelled, “Hey, there goes my brother! Follow him!” So, Margaret punched the gas. We were speeding too fast for the neighborhood, past little wooden houses and over hills. I didn’t want to be a spoilsport but I wanted her to slow down. “He’s getting away!” Jamie yelled, and Margaret punched it even faster. We were going too fast to stop and I knew there was a stop sign just over the hill. If a car was stopped there, we were gonna crash into it. I sunk down low in the back seat and braced myself.  Sure enough, just over the hill, a car sat at the stop sign. Margaret couldn’t brake fast enough and we slammed into the back of the car.

Seconds after the impact there was complete silence. A cloud of dust and glass settled over the car. I sat up. “Are you guys okay?”  Margaret screamed, “My teeth!” Two of her teeth were laying in her lap. Margaret’s face must have hit the steering wheel and knocked out her front teeth. She turned around  and blood was pouring from her mouth. “My chin!” Jamie cried. Jamie’s chin hit the dashboard with such force there was a dent in the dashboard. I thought her jaw might be dislocated because her chin was already swollen twice its normal size.  We sat there in shock for a minute before getting out of the car. The woman in the car we hit  came to see if we were alright. She said she was okay and walked to a nearby house to call the police.

This was a serious situation. Margaret sobbed as we waited for the police. Her shiny new car was wrecked and she needed to race to the dentist to see if they could save her teeth. I told her I heard somewhere that if you hold your tooth in and get to the dentist in time, they might be able to save the nerve from dying. Jamie couldn’t open her mouth and spoke through clenched teeth. Margaret held her mouth and said that she was in big trouble. Her parents had prohibited her to have friends in her car. I told her I could walk back to the school if she wanted. Jamie said she could walk back with me. Margaret nodded, yes. So, we left Margaret beside her shiny, new, wrecked car holding her teeth in a kleenex.

When we got back to school, fourth period had already started. We had to have an excuse to tell teachers why Jamie’s chin was swollen. We agreed to say that she fell on her chin and that I helped her and that’s why we were late to class. We knew that Margaret would have to tell school officials what happened when she returned to school, but she wouldn’t make it back that day. I snuck into the back row of my biology class and luckily the roll hadn’t been called. I was shaking, thinking about Margaret and her wrecked car, explaining to the cops what happened. I didn’t get hurt because I knew the crash was going to happen and had time to brace myself for the impact. I guess that’s true of almost anything. You’re better off if you can see that bad thing waiting for you, just over the hill.


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