Wednesday, January 20, 2010

120: Tailgater

It was not Martin's night. Things had not gone well and he was on his way home to lick his wounds. A nice scotch on the rocks (or three) would be a good start at making things right. There was always tomorrow, but he wasn't quite able to shake off tonight's events.

The four-lane road was clear and empty as it always was this time of night. Still, no sense in being reckless. A fine mist was in the air and the road's black surface glistened in his headlights. The black Mercedes 3 glided along the ground like a shadow, the road noise almost imperceptible from inside the cabin. The rheostat had been turned way down so even the gauges were minimally lit and that's the way Martin liked it.

In his rearview mirror, he saw headlights. "Too fast," he thought, confirming with a quick glance at his own speedometer and seeing that the cruise control was still holding it steady at 35. Up ahead, three green lights, three deserted intersections. Martin had traveled this road every night for the past two months. The lights had never not been green.

Pretty soon the car was almost upon him. He could tell by the boxy outline that it was probably one of those Scions or a Honda element. Maybe a Chevy SSR or a PT Cruiser, but it looked too boxy.

"Go around," he growled at the rearview mirror, but the car stuck to him. An open lane to his left and this jerk wanted to tailgate him, like he had something to prove. Soon, Martin couldn't even see the headlights anymore. He could make out two or three people in the other car bopping along. He imagined in a lesser car he'd probably also hear the incessant thumping of their stereo.

Finally, something snapped. It was no longer their night, either. Martin held down the accelerator. 40... 45... the car stuck with him. 50... the car finally dropped back. 55... 60... 65... Then just as quickly, Martin slammed on the brakes and as the car reached 15, he quickly whipped the wheel, the car sliding on the wet ground, coming to a stop sideways just shy of the last intersection.

The Scion came to a halt, its driver unsure. Martin quickly threw open the door and exited the car. His long back trench coat billowed in the wind. He chomped down on his cigar and pulled two Steyr TMPs from behind his back holding them sideways. He quickly thought about how movies had ruined that, he had always liked holding the firearms sideways. Took more control to hold them but Martin prided himself on his sense of control.

He squeezed the trigger of the gun in his left hand, just a few rounds. A warning volley into the engine block, aimed low. No chance that any would reach the passenger compartment.

But that was enough. Instantly, three doors opened and three teenagers spilled from the car. The two on the right ran away from the him, looking back fearfully. The driver tripped over his own feet, almost recovered, and then his legs gave way and he fell to the ground, his legs bent up under his body. He scrambled to his feet, running away from the car, perpendicular, towards the opposite shoulder, strangely still not *away* from Martin.

Martin watched curiously for a few seconds. When he had decided the idiots were far enough from the car, he pulled both triggers tightly, emptying both gun's magazines into the car's engine compartment. Just as both guns ran dry, the car erupted into a fireball sending shockwaves in every direction, knocking down two of the three youths and once again making Martin's coat billow.

Martin pressed a button on the keyfob and the trunk latch popped. Martin put the guns, still hot, into a metal case where they'd cool without risking setting his car on fire.

He closed the trunk lid and listened. Except for the crackling of the fire, it was silent. He got into car, closed the door with a satisfying clunk and proceeded back down the way he had come.

As he neared the teens, they began to scramble up an embankment. "Too late," he thought, hit the accelerator, flew through the large puddle and drenched them as a final insult.

He was pretty sure none of them would ever tailgate anyone again.