Bangin’ Gears and Bustin’ Heads

Excerpt by R.A. Jetter

Bobby slipped out the driver’s side rear window, planted his butt on the window ledge, legs/feet inside the car, holding onto the fabric pull assist on the pillar in order to stay attached to the car. He yelled at the Buick. Eddie stuck his head out the other side, urged Dave on.

I slammed the three-speed into second, hauled the steering wheel right and floored the gas pedal. Rocks and gravel flew, the car slid around the corner, dust kicked up. I was going to lose Dave rite now!

The Merc’s tail slid left. I corrected, straightened her out and caught a glimpse of red reflectors. Dead ahead of me — a stake bed truk — no way to miss it. Going to be a ruff nite when the glass quits tinkling, dust clears and the car stops! I yelled “hold on.” Bobby screamed. I hit it.

The yelling quit, the sound of rushing wind ended, the exhausts quieted, the music from WLS-AM just… went… away. Every trace of noise stopped, got deathly quiet. The car hurtled forward in slow motion.

I ducked, furiously worked the clutch, gas pedal, and the wheel. The side mirror went away, vent window shattered, metal crunched and scraped. The cab of the truck loomed. We were still moving. I stomped the gas.

I missed the majority of the cab.

I realized, as I rounded the last corner of the driveway on the way out, that I’d side-swiped the truk… Dave’s headlights disappeared. I poured the Merc around the corner, bounced onto the gravel road and didn’t look back. I shoved the gas pedal almost thru the floorboard, didn’t want to stick around to see what kind of damage the truk took. Certainly didn’t want to see what I did to Dad’s Merc. No doubt now — Dad will have my ass big time tomorrow! Every sound in the world came roaring back into my ears, yelling prevalent — all at once: “Bobby OK?” “He still breathing?” “Where’s Dave?” “His headlights went out.” “He nail the truk?” “Go like hell for the hospital, hurry.”

Bobby? No! Please no.

He’d been hanging outside the car moments before I hit the truk. Did I decapitate him. I turned to look, expected to see a bloody, headless torso in the back seat. Eddie bent over Bobby, “You OK?” Bob said nothing. Couldn’t. He stared ahead, shaking. No one had to speak… each of us knew he’d just escaped certain death. We drove back to town in silence, realized just how damned lucky we were.