Max could hear it coming, the blare of the horn, the sound of tires not so much skidding as sliding through the slushy snow. He braced for the impact, tightening up reflexively when he heard the sound of metal grinding into metal. But the jolt of a rear end’r never came. He glanced into his rearview mirror and saw two cars entangled some thirty feet behind him. A late model VW had slammed into the back of an older Chevy Malibu.
“There but by the grace of God go I,” he mumbled under his breath.
An inch and a half of snow had fallen right before dawn, and that was more than enough of the white stuff needed to spell disaster in Greenville, South Carolina. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had to drive in it.
While he was still trying to decide if he was getting out to help, or if that choice would be suicidal, another car – a green Subaru – slid into the back VW. The VW, in turn, once again slammed into the rear of the Chevy. The Chevy then lurched forward toward Max, and his beloved red Cadillac. He hit he gas, hoping to add more distance, but the wheels just spun in the slush. Fortunately the secondary impact did not have enough force to push the Chevy any closer than ten feet away.
That settled it, he was getting the hell off the streets. Just as he was about to ease forward the door of the Chevy popped open and the driver, a man in his late teens or early twenties, jumped out and started running.
Almost as a reflex action Max threw his car into park, yanked the keys from the ignition, and jumped out in hot pursuit. Old habits die hard.
“Hey you! Stop!” He shouted, forcing himself not to yell “Police.” That gig was over, and had ended badly.
The man made no indication of stopping and when Max tried rounding the corner of the Insurance Exchange building at a dead run his feet skidded out from under him and he fell – hard. By the time he collected himself the guy was long gone.
Must be stolen, Max reasoned as he tried swiping most of the cold wet snow off his clothing. The actions only served to push frigid water deeper into the fabric and make his hands numb. Why else would the guy run?
His attention was yanked back to the scene of the accident by the scream of a woman. A crowd was gathering at the rear of the Chevy, eliciting startled cries of dismay. Max walked back, limping a bit, and worked his way through the crowd. The trunk of the Chevy stood open, popped up by the impact. Max peered in, then staggered back a step. A man’s body curled inside, his face frozen in a leering grimace, lifeless eyes staring out upon the world.
He heard sirens approaching. “Everybody stand back,” Max ordered the crowd. Old habits again. He did not look forward to seeing his old compatriots.
What a way to start the New Year.
© 2011 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.