Strangest thing, from the back deck, Shannon actually sees the squad cars as they’re on the way through the development. Lights flashing.
I stick my head in the house through the sliding glass door and yell, “COPS!”
And then, look at me and Shannon bounding down the back steps! Look at us scrambling through the yard. Look at us squeezing through the crack in the fence, beers now slipping from hand, and watch us run along the neighbor’s yard to the far side. Look at us scale the fence by the road and hop into my waiting getaway car. “Go! Go! Go!”
I stomp the gas. We’re laughing. We’re zooming up Mallard Ave. And we’re seventeen.
In front of the house, other kids we go to school with, are getting busted. We see them in the glow of flash lights. We see them in the disco lights of the squad cars. My window is down and I hear the chirp and drone of police radios. I turn left on Pigeon and then right on Bittern. And Shannon is cracking up.
So am I. Everything’s great.
But the road is curving. And I can barely see, because I’m too drunk. Instead of curving with the road, I drive my car onto someone’s front lawn. “Fuck!”
Bird bath explodes. A plaster garden gnome crushed. I dig the brakes in. Soft grass. Illuminated eyes of a cat leaping off concrete steps getting closer and closer.
The car stops, somehow, a foot before impact.
And again, we laugh. And laugh. Swirling dust in the headlights.
An orange light comes on in the house. A window begins to open. A man screaming about something, I’m not sure what.
“I think I should drive,” Shannon says.
We switch sides. Chinese fire drill. Slammed door. Seat belts. Reverse. Peeling off. She’ll do fine on her driver’s exam next Friday.
Got home safe.
Bud Smith works heavy construction, and writes in a little apartment in Manhattan that overlooks the George Washington Bridge. His books are the novels Tollbooth, and F-250; the poetry collection Everything Neon, and the short story collection Or Something Like That. http://www.budsmithwrites.com