The Open Road
It was Spring 1967. Mick, Harry, and Jefferson just graduated from Lincoln High School. The VW bus was stocked with a few changes of clothes, and enough food and 8-track tapes to last for days. It was just them, their future, and the open road.
“Man, this will be great,” Mick said, leaning back in the driver’s seat. He pulled his draft card from his shirt pocket and threw it out the window.
Harry and Jefferson laughed. They burned theirs the night before. No one was going to tell them where they were going to die, or that they had to kill others in the process.
“Nevada, Colorado, then Canada,” Jefferson said, sweeping his long, stringy blond hair out of his eyes.
Harry looked at him through his light brown vail and laughed. “Failed geography, huh.”
Mick laughed. “So did you.”
“Ah, who cares!”
As they drove down the highway past the redwoods and toward the open desert, the Beach Boys blared through the open windows, and the wind blew their concerns away with it. After a few hours of driving, they saw a little red car pulled off to the side of the road with a very distressed young woman standing near it.
“What do we know about cars?” Harry asked as Mick pulled over.
“Less than we know about pretty girls,” Mick quipped.
“Need some help?” Harry asked through the passenger window.
Sally was trouble. She knew it and she used it. Her long, dirty-blonde hair, her large blue eyes, and her extraordinary body were her tools that enabled her to get pretty much anything she wanted.
She was standing there by the side of the road, next to her stranded, somewhat beat-up MG-TD roadster. Wearing a loose halter top, tight bell-bottom jeans, leather sandals, and a dazzling smile, she was like an apparition to these three eighteen-year-old boys.
“Oh thank God,” she responded to Harry’s question. “Stupid me, I ran out of gas out here in the desert, of all places. I was beginning to lose hope and then you boys came along to save me.” Sally batted her eyelashes and said, “I’m so terribly thirsty.”
Jefferson, carrying a canteen of water, was the first out of the old VW bus. He handed it to her and was joined shortly by Mick and Harry.
“What’s your name and where are you headed?” Mick asked.
“Sally,” she said, “and I am hoping to get to San Francisco.”
Jefferson looked at his two companions and then back at the girl. “You are in luck, young lady,” he said. “My friends and I are heading to Canada by way of San Francisco.”
Harry started to object, but Mick poked him in his side with his elbow.
Sally climbed aboard and settled into a seat at the back of the bus. As they pulled away she glanced over her shoulder and watched as the red car she’d ‘borrowed’ from her roommate disappeared into the distance. She discreetly dropped the keys from the open window.
“Where are you from?” asked Mick.
“Lincoln” she muttered.
“I don’t remember seeing you at High School,” said Jefferson.
She said nothing, just stared out of the window as the bushes rushed by. Harry watched as she tightened her grip on the canvas bag on her lap. Gone was the smile. She looked nervous. Something didn’t seem right.
“Look,” said Mick, “there’s something ahead blocking the road, what is it?”. ‘God only knows’ sang the Beach Boys.
A Jeep stood at an angle across the highway. As they approached it two men climbed out. Sally reached inside her bag.
‘Keep driving,’ Sally said, pointing the gun at Mick in the driver’s seat.
‘But they’re blocking the road,’ Mick pointed out.
‘Then ram them out of the way. If you stop I will shoot you dead.’
Mick shifted down a gear and pressed the accelerator. It all happened to quick for Jefferson and Harry to respond. With Sally sitting behind them they were powerless to get the gun out of her hand.
The two men in the road noticed the VW speeding up just in time to dive out of the way. The three men inside the van squinted away as their prized VW smashed into the corner of the jeep, sending it spinning out the way.
Miraculously the old VW kept going, although the engine sounded decidedly wonky and ‘The Beach Boys’ were no longer playing on the 8-track.
There were loud bangs behind them and everyone instinctively ducked as bullets hit against metal. The two pursuers had recovered and were firing after them.
Fortunately the road curved and they were soon out of range. Mick kept driving, Sally still had the gun trained across them.
‘Do you want to tell us what the hell this is all about?’ asked Harry.
Sally flicked her dirty blonde hair from her face and started to explain.
A lot of times, people in a situation like this would have become hyper-vigilant and taken in every detail of their surroundings. Not these four. Sally was so busy concentrating on giving the boys the version of her story that she wanted them to hear, and they were so intent on listening, that none of them noticed the billboard or the highway patrolman who sat behind it on his gleaming Electra Glide, willing something to happen on this endlessly dull stretch of blacktop.
Taking in the sight of the VW and its occupants, Zip Nolan allowed a smile to disturb the stony expression that he normally wore. A van usually meant hippies, but a couple of these kids looked clean-cut. No matter. He hated college boys too. The girl looked hot, but what kind of woman hangs around with three guys? One cop, four possible perps; not an even match. Zip called for backup. “The cruiser’ll be with you in twenty minutes,” he was told, “till then, follow from a distance. No more Audie Murphy stunts”.
Zip fired up the Harley. He was gonna have some fun.
In the van, Jefferson asked, “Exactly what kind of work were you doing in this Vegas hotel?”
“What the hell do you think she was doing?” Harry interrupted, “To end up in a Vegas hotel room with an accountant for the mob?”
“You’ve got a dirty mind,” Sally spat, “Sure, I work the bars, but I’m a hustler, not a hooker. Most times, I get what I want without having to, you know. And when the guy bought me a drink, he just said he kept books. He wasn’t wearing a button that said, “I’M WITH THE MOB!”
“OK, OK, so what happened?” Harry asked.
“Like I was saying, he gives me his room number, slips away. I give him ten minutes to freshen up. I knock on the door. No answer. So I try the door. It opens. The guy’s there on the bed. Dead.”
“Dead? What, like shot? Stabbed? What the_” Jefferson spluttered.
“What am I, a coroner? Heart attack maybe,” Sally said, outlining her figure with her hands, “This can be too much for some men.”
“So you got help?” said Jefferson and Harry, in unison.
“He was dead,” Sally answered, “I grabbed his briefcase and got the hell outta there.”
“You stole from the mob?” Harry asked.
“For what it was worth … this gun, a couple of grand and some stupid books. They won’t know who I am.”
“What do you think the jeep was about? A coincidence?” said Harry.
“Guys, stop arguing,” Mick piped up, “We’ve got company.”
Zip flicked on the blue light, gunned the bike. The thought of inflicting some pain on these kids brightened his mood. If his life was keech, then everyone’s life should be just as bad. And his was awful. Take that useless bitch he was married to. Lazy fat slob who could only produce girls. What good were three daughters to a guy like him? He was a man’s man, a hard man. He wanted a son, he needed a son, and if that meant he had to get rid of that sack of blubber then he would. But first he was going to make these privileged little creeps suffer.
In the van Harry was thinking fast. He had secrets his friends didn’t know about. Like where he had got the cash for this trip. It wasn’t his fault the old fool was in hospital, it was just a push, and anyway there was no need to struggle for a measly few bucks.
He slipped his dope into Jefferson’s pocket, his family had money, they would bail him out.
That left just one problem.
‘Who the hell…?’
“Hey, zip up, loud mouth; or else I drill a hole into that stupid head of yours that you’ve covered with that piece of hairy shit.”
A rumble followed. Mick was the first to roll out of the car. Jefferson hobbled after, his thinly legs and and spindly arms in sync with the expression that he now wore__that of a lamb being led to slaughter.
‘I can smell dope. You guys carrying stuff? Now wait, lemme look.’
Zip was fast; in a jiffy his large hairy hands had ripped open from Jefferson’s back pockets a white packet that looked suspiciously, albeit felt a wee bit coarser than your homely kitchen salt.
From his vantage position in the backseat, Harry watched, fear writ large on his rubbery face, the events as they rolled by.
Instinctively, he ducked his head further into the cushioned seat’s belly.
It was a gesture, a nano second late.
Zip had whipped out his Glock 9.
“All ye inside. Get your asses off the vehicle, or watch me blow your heads to pieces”.
Before one could roll of Donald Trump they were there, lines up like newly born kittens__the Three Musketeers. Sally, the newbie on town, completed the picture.
“I love drugs but I hate when kids still in their knickers also love them.”
Harry opened his mouth to say something but words failed him.
“Okey. So here’s the deal. I take this stuff. Also, all the money you kiddos got. In exchange, you’re free birds. No charges, no courts. Right buggers?”
All eyes dipped towards the epicentre of the new sound waves.
Long near endless legs, heaving bosom, mascara lined fluttering eyelashes, and come hither looks.
Needless to say, the assortment proved combustible, to say the least.
Zip’s fingers ached to unzip himself as he felt a bulge form around his inner thighs. .
‘You let these guys go. In turn, I am yours.’
The bemused trio looked at one another, their faces, supremely expressionless, as if caught in a time warp.
Zip lowered his gun as his tongue darted out to swipe the saliva that had wetted his fast moistening lips.
All he could manage was a feeble, “Ok boys. You go your way. I take the highway with Sally by my side”.
This story was brought to you by:
The Haunted Wordsmith
This, That, and The Other
Sound Bite Fiction