Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Darian was a reckless bastard. He had no regard for anyone. Least of all himself. He sped everywhere; through stop signs, red lights, even cops. It didn’t matter to him. Life was a game. Or at least it was until about a year ago. That’s when everything changed. Darian was going 75 or 80 miles per hour in a 55. It was dark, raining and he couldn’t have seen very well if he had been paying attention. He was goofing off with his radio or cell phone when a few kids snuck out past curfew. They were playing near the road. Darian was a bastard, but he tried to swerve. Two of them avoided the impact. The third wasn’t so lucky. He died almost instantly.
The prosecutor didn’t press charges but Darian wasn’t the same. He didn’t get behind the wheel for months. When he finally did, you wouldn’t have believed he was the same driver. Darian drove five miles under the speed limit, and that was on a clear day. If it rained or snowed, you couldn’t expect him to go more than 20 in town or even the highway. He was changed. Traffic laws became commandments. He told off all his friends for the most minor infractions.
Things were looking up for the town, if not Darian. But neither one could have predicted the consequences of a breakout at a supermax prison nearly twenty miles away. A mass murderer, Cedric “Coco” Ray, was on the lamb. The police couldn’t catch him. He was the best driver anyone had ever seen. Road spikes and helicopters hadn’t stopped him. He found holes around the most extensive police blockades.
Sheriff Rowling needed a miracle. He needed someone reckless. There was only man for the job. But he was retired.
“Listen,” Rowling said to Darian, leaning on his car. “I won’t lie to you. We need your help. I know you screwed up and so do you. But you can’t change the past. It’s over. Done with. What you can do is redeem yourself. We’ve got a killer on the loose and he’s headed this way. You’re the only one who can stop him. Plain and simple.”
“I put my guns down a year ago.” replied Darian. “I don’t have it in me to drive like that. Not anymore. Believe, me, I’d love redemption. I’ve wanted to make it up to that kid and everyone since the day it happened.”
“You have it in you, Darian,” officer Rowling said, walking away. He went to join the line with cops from five surrounding cities that stood between the murderer and more victims. Even, with all that, they didn’t stand a chance in hell.
“On my mark,” the sheriff began. “Ready, set, FIRE!” The guns blasted past Cedric “Coco” Ray. None of the officers could believe they missed him. They fired again. And again.
It all seemed hopeless as he sped toward the blockade, destined to find his way around. That’s when it happened. Darian’s Mustang flew clean over the blockade and landed, tires squealing on the ground. Applause erupted from behind him.
“Looks like it’s just you and me, Coco!” yelled Darian out his window.
“I’ve killed punks like you before,” he said back.
Darian didn’t waste more time talking. He hit the gas. Coco followed, forgetting the police. He’d deal with them easily enough when he finished off the punk.
But Coco couldn’t catch him. Darian drove like he never had before. Intersections didn’t scare him. He ran right through as Coco got held up and almost hit. When he finally managed to gain on Darian it wasn’t for long. Darian hit the brakes and sped off in a different direction like there was nothing to it.
“Who is this kid?” thought Coco. He was driving around looking for Darian. It looked as if he’d lost him. But just as he was turning around to break through the cops and find more victims, he saw him. Darian’s car was stopped. It was a showdown. Both of them would die, or one might live. There were no promises; just chance.
Darian hit the gas again and so did Coco. Neither expected the other to swerve first. Their speedometers hit 50, 60, 75 or 80 miles per hour. Darian showed no signs of avoidance. Coco, on the other hand, began to see the one thing in jeopardy he valued above all else; himself. At the last minute, he jerked the wheel. Coco avoided Darian. But not the tree.
It was over, thought Darian, looking at the horrific accident he caused. There were no solace or redemption in the remains. It felt like before. He saved the town, but still, he was a killer just the same. Darian closed his eyes. Without looking where, he threw his car keys in the woods. That’s where they would stay. He never got behind the wheel again.
A lot of people blamed him for that day. Calling him just as bad for letting Coco die. He never disagreed with them. But, I can tell you, Darian may have been a bastard. But he was the noblest damn bastard I ever met.