March 31 - April 6
Fiction: Saturday Night Drive
Olivia Newton John
He was floating pleasurably, drifting aimlessly, swaying on a vast well of darkness. The great unknown? He mused. He was slowly surfacing.
His reverie was broken by a loud, metallic clanging, and he was instantly aware of the silence that descended. That’s funny, he thought I was not aware of the noise till everybody shut up. He smiled. His smile faded when the metallic noise stopped in front of him. He looked up quickly and through the bars saw what made the noise. Of course, it was the nightstick running across the metal bars. What else could it be, his mind registered. He looked at the cops’ eyes. He was still hazy but somehow he was aware of the evil in the air. He, the cop, started to say something but apparently changed his mind. The sneer on his pudgy face wasn’t any comfort either. He turned and walked away.
He was indignant. He wanted to say something but instead of words, the only sounds that came out of his mouth were indecipherable stammering of what otherwise could have been human speech. He tried to get up and was engulfed in a terribly fierce headache, and no sooner he flopped down again. His legs felt rubbery. He wanted to crawl through the bars and shout obscenities at the retreating figure. His stomach heaved and he retched. Nothing came out. His tongue was very dry, and he craved desperately for water. Gradually, the sounds around him were heard again. He tried to focus on his surroundings. He was sitting on a metal bunk attached to the wall by two chains. There was another bunk adjacent to his with a sleeping figure startlingly familiar to him.
His mind began retracing his activities and the dawning realization of his situation was overwhelming and terrifying.
“Oh my God,” he muttered, He shook his head. He looked at his hands. He looked at his friend. He looked at the bars.” Shit,” he said reverently. He was remembering.
It was, simply put, a party. A birthday party at that, and he was invited. He was thinking fast: okay there’s a party and you can’t blame e for that. After all, I didn’t plan the damn thing. And I was invited after all, so what can I do? It’s Terry’s fault – she was the one having the birthday! Terry invited almost everybody in their school, plus some prominent people. It’s going to be her debut and she wanted a grand affair. Grand! He snorted. The adults kept to themselves and the kids did likewise. It’s like two parties in one venue. And of course, as in any party, liquor flowed. It’s not my fault, his mind protested again. But then again, what’s a party without liquor? A dead party, he answered himself. He grimaced.
He looked at the sleeping boy at the next bunk. He looked down on the floor. Good ol’ Dennis, goddamn Dennis, his mind chanted. He looked down on his clothes. Grimy, sweaty. Dirty. He felt dirty. He looked at his watch. It stopped moving at 12:30. 12:30 what? Yesterday? Today? Morning? Night? And where am I any way? In jail! His mind answered. The thought jolted him.
It was rather dull, the party was. Some of the kids were told to lower their voices not just once. They were disturbing the guest upstairs. He remember observing some of the guys getting restless. Dull as it was, it a good 2 hours before he decided to go home. He had one drink too many. Whoever invented that silly phrase anyway? He asked himself, grinning foolishly. I have to walk straight, he cautioned himself. His vision was blurry now. Was that Terry and Charlie necking near the bushes? Azaleas, someone had called. He looked around. Earthquake? He thought. But no one was running or screaming or whatever people do during earthquakes, so he just shrugged. Someone tapped him on the shoulder, and he spun a round. A little too quickly perhaps? He almost stumbled but strong arms quickly saved him from inevitable embarrassment. “Jesus, you okay, man?” somebody said. Who?
“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, rubbing his temples.
“Listen, Jake, I better take you home. You’re drunk.”
So that’s it! I’m drunk! Am I drunk? He asked himself. He hiccuped. He squinted at the face before him. Ah, good ol’ Dennis! Poise! he reminded himself.
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” he said. He straightened himself, took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. He opened his eyes wider. He looked triumphantly at Dennis. “Nothing to worry about,” he declared. Another hiccup.
“Look, Jake, let’s go together, okay? I promised my Mom I’ll be home at eleven.
Jesus jumped on the plane! A mama’s boy! He looked at Dennis’ sincere face, a bit red, then his watch. Eleven. O’clock. On the dot. He shrugged again. “I was planning to stick around longer,” he lied. “But.” A significant look. A shrug. He let the sentence hang/ He felt a weird sadistic pleasure watching Dennis flush guiltily.
“Hey, if it’s such a big thing, forget it okay? I can find my way home.”
My golly, he’s sulking! He’s really hurt! He thought in wonder. He laughed and put his arms around Dennis’ shoulders. “Relax, man, you’re upright. I was only kidding, you know. I mean, stop being so sensitive for chrissakes."
They started to walk. Jake kept his arms around Dennis. He had to. His knees were wobbly. They said goodbye to Terry. Great party, nice chow, we gotta go, bye. Her dress was rumpled and she was breathing a bit heavily. Charlie was nowhere in sight. Behind the bushes?
Jake humming a favorite tune when they were outside. He was about to launch into a full song but he was startled by Dennis’ cry.
“What, what?” he asked, alarmed.
“I just realized,” Dennis said, “you’re drunk--”
"Watch your language.”
“And that means you can’t drive.” Now Dennis was the kind of guy who canm make decisions at split-second timing, and without breaking stride and completely ignoring Jake’s protestations of soberness, announced, “We’ll have to take a cab.”
“Yeah, right,” said Jake sarcastically. A taxi. Cab. At midnight. You know what that means?”
“The trouble with you is that you’re paranoid.”
They were both silent for a while. They can still hear the party, the laughter, the music, the clicking of glasses.
“Look,” Jake said, “I’m sorry. But I’m not drunk, honest.”
“Well, maybe just a little.”
Silence.”Point is,” Jake said matter-of-factly, “I can still drive us our of here in one piece. Two pieces, I mean.”
“Two whole pieces.”
Dennis looked at Jake skeptically.
Stubborn child, Jake thought. He took out a coin from his pocket. “Tails I win, heads you lose,” he laughed
Dennis refused to be amused.
“Seriously. Tails I drive. Heads, a cab. You pay,” Jake said.
Dennis was shaking his head. “You know I can’t drive -- ”
“Alright,alright,” Jake cut in. “We split the fare.” He flipped the coin. For a moment, Jake thought the coin would remain suspended in midair. A shiny twirling disk. Then it came down. On Jake’s palm. In one swift motion the palm capped over Jake’s left hand. He opened his right hand. They both looked at the coin.
The Bangko Sentral logo.
Dennis was still shaking his head. “This is crazy. Only an idiot would drive in your condition.”
“Manners, manners,. Let’s face it. I’m your chauffeur..” Jake said
Dennis’s face brightened. Probably concocting another brilliant scheme, Jake thought sardonically. A cab! He snorted.
“I got it!” Dennis blurted.
Here goes, Jake thought amusedly.
“Let’s just hitch a ride with George!”
“Him! Jaske exploded. “I wouldn’t ride in that jalopy if his if it’s the last vehicle on earth! Besides, in case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Wise Guy, he’d already left together with Eric what’s-his-name.”
Dennis’ face fell. “Well” he said, groping. “Let’s find somebody whom we can hitch a ride.”
Jake gestured towards the gate. Nobody was going out. He held up his hand. They both listened. The party, if anything, was growing louder this time.
“Nobody’s leading for at least another coupe of hours. While we stand here arguing like a couple of idiots, I’m starting to get a chill. I’ll probably go down with a fever tomorrow, thanks to you. Besides, that was a ridiculous idea in the first place anyway. Nice try though,” Jake smiled disarmingly. “Enough talk,” he said when he saw Dennis about to open his mouth. “We better go.”
A curious buzzing sound. An engine? Bus? The sound was getting louder in his ear and he slapped that part of his anatomy. He looked at his hand. A slim trail of blood was in his palm and fingers. A mosquito. Another one.He looked at Dennis’ sleeping form, now turned towards him. Funny, Jake mused: first time I saw him sleeping. I didn’t know he moves so much while asleep. He looked at Dennis’ face and behind closed eyelids can see his eyes movoing rapidly – left, right, up, down. He’s dreaming, he told himself. He’s just dreaming. It’s not a nightmare, he tried to console himself. He rememebered Dennis saying:
“You’re going too fast!”
“Can’t you read, for crying out loud? Look at that! It says 70 miles an hour” Jake retorted. They were at the city limits now. Everywhere, colorful Christmas lights and decorations adorn almost every vi8sible establishments ahead was a red light.
“See that?” Dennis pointed.
“Of course I see it! What do you am I, blind?”
“Red light means stop,” Dennis told him.
“Like I don’t know what that means!” answered Jake, stepping on the gas.
“What are you doing?” Dennis was getting hysterical. “Are you crazy?”
“Relax, kid. What nobody knows won’t hurt nobody,” said Jake, grinning malevolently.
And then it happened. A blur. A movement. An impact. The sickening sound of crushing bones.
“Jesus!” Dennis ejaculated.
Jake slammed on the brakes. He got out of the car as fast as he could, but everything seems so slow, like moving on water. Then gradually, everything coming to life. A scream was heard. A siren. People. Where did they come from, Jake wondered.. Hiding then appearing at the precise moment like a stage play?
Dennis had gotten out of the car too, and they looked at each other over the car roof. A uniformed cop suddenly appeared like a malevolent jack-in the-box. They both looked at him, then their eyes went in front of the car. Where a little boy was sprawled in an angle that would have been impossible.
My God, the blood! Jake suddenly threw up everything from his stomach. A woman was shouting at him, “Murderer! Murderer! More policemen. Getting darker. He could hear the murmurings around him. “The skull was crushed!” he heard somebody say. Getting really dark. He felt the cops converging around him. He saw Dennis’ white face, devoid of anything other than pure terror He looked like death warmed over, Jake thought, Now whoever invented that silly phrase?
Then everything went black.