Framed by C.J. Edwards.

Billy didn’t know how many police cars were behind him. Their red and blue lights filled his rearview mirror and flickered off green exit signs. His speedometer hovered at ninety. The front end of the Ford F150 quad cab shook. Both front tires had been taken out by spike strips six miles back. Prying his right hand from the wheel, Billy wiped sweat from his forehead.

“Fuck!”

He’d said the word so many times in the last ten minutes it had lost its flavor. How the hell had he gotten into this?

His eyes flicked to the passenger seat. A pair of white Nikes laced to Ray’s feet jutted up from the floor board. What was left of his friend lay crumpled under the dash. Looking back out to the stretch of I65 in front of him, Billy stared past the smear of blood he had tried to wipe away. Small bits of bone and brain peppered the dash.

On the seat next to him was a gun, a Glock .45. Billy knew his prints were on it. They were on each round in the clip as well. The prints were there because he had loaded the gun about an hour ago, after buying it from Morris for $300.

The sun was starting to come up. The traffic was thickening from the odd semi to the morning rush. It was ten more miles to his granddad’s farm, eight to the Rosemont exit, and two more till the gravel drive that led to the twenty two acre spread. Morris, Ray, and Billy had played three musketeers and cops and robbers there as kids during summer break. A snicker wormed it way past Billy’s lips.

“Just like old times.” Only this wasn’t a game

Morris had suggested the old farm because Granddad raised pigs. Pigs were what Billy needed, hungry pigs. Swine ate anything. He looked back down at Ray’s feet. The Ford hit a pot hole and the Nikes hopped into the air. Billy thought of the movie “White Men Can’t Jump” and laughed till he started coughing. His lungs wheezed.

“I am so fucked.”

Up ahead the right lane was blocked by two semis. They had been stopped by more cops under the overpass, probably state troopers. The left was open, but as Billy got closer he could see another spike strip glinting in the morning sun.

“Shit! Common, just one more exit.”

Across the grassy median the traffic had slimmed down. The overpass on that side was clear. Billy knew what he had to do. It was his only hope of making it past the roadblock. Letting off the gas he let the crippled truck slow. His hand grabbed the Glock. Billy hurled the pistol through the shattered driver’s window into the median. He’d aimed it at some trees growing near the roadway, hoping it wouldn’t be found. In the side mirror he watched as one of the cop cars pulled over where he had thrown the gun. It had been a long shot anyway. He should have dumped it before they had tried to stop him back in Indianapolis. Morris told him to get rid of it at the farm, along with Ray. At the time it had seemed like good advice. Taking the gun over to Ray’s had been Morris’ idea too.

“We can go toss a few rounds at some cars in the junk yard,” he’d said.

Ray thought it would be cool too, and after they all had sucked down some prime crystal, he offered to drive. Billy called shotgun. Morris climbed into the back seat of Ray’s brand new quad cab, and hit the pipe again.

Half way to the junk yard Morris smacked Billy on the arm.

“Hey man. Let me check out that piece real quick.”

Billy thought nothing of it as he handed it back. Two blocks later Ray pulled up to Rick and Ray’s You Pull, and slipped the Ford into park.

When Ray’s head came apart Billy just stared. His ears rang from the shot. Morris’ mouth was moving but Billy couldn’t hear what he was saying. When he got out of the truck he had meant to run, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Ray. Morris had jumped out to open the driver’s door. He shoved Ray to the side. Ray flopped forward onto the passenger side floor, smearing blood across the seat. Billy stared.

“Meet me at yo grandpa’s farm. If I go down for this shit, we both go down.”

Billy just nodded.

Just before the overpass, Billy slowed even more, and steered the truck into the median. He made it half way across before the bare rims dug into the soggy turf. Billy gunned the engine but the rims only ground in deeper. The back end of the truck spun around a few times. He gave it up.

Now the sirens were louder as the white cars spread out behind him. They stopped. A dog was barking.

Several voices began yelling at him to show his hands. Billy looked down at his gore covered fingers. He raised them up over his head.

“Open the door and get out of the vehicle!”

He got out. Just before his face smacked the muddy grass Billy gaped at the circle of badges and guns.

“He’s dead,” he shouted. "He’s dead, but I didn’t shoot him!”

Bio:  C. J. Edwards lives in Indianapolis IN, and has been a police officer for just over eleven years. His work can be found in American Blue: Real Stories by Real Cops, the crime fiction journal All Due Respect, the debut issue of Pulp Modern, and in the anthology, Indiana Crime Jurst released on Amazon.

13 comments:

Paul D Brazill said...

Very well done.

David Barber said...

Really liked this, Chris. Tense and gritty throughout. Well done, buddy!

Robin Billings said...

Felt like I was right there with this sorry ass guy.

Being from Louisville myself, and having relatives all over southern Indiana and western Kentucky, I recognized the type, C.J., the kind of guys you see tooling around looking to be doing a bunch of nothing in some crap truck - and them being fuck-ups is always somebody else's fault.

Then I got to the bio part, and saw you're from the same general neck of the woods.

You painted the picture so well!

Lily Childs said...

Great pace. You can really taste the genuine fear.

Bill Baber said...

gritty and lowdown- well done lowlife tale.

Mae Whispers said...

The pigs.... They eat anything. I could almost feel the smirk when he thought that.

Graham Smith said...

powerful and gripping throughout.

Bravo

Rob Kitchin said...

Nice. On the road to nowhere and knowing that's the destination.

C.J. said...

Thanks all.

Bruce Harris said...

I liked that line about the pigs as well. Good one!

Chris Rhatigan said...

Excellent. There's one ride I don't want to take.

Andrew H said...

Great story.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Great piece of action packed wrting. Like others have mentioned, felt like I was sitting in the bed of the truck as it was all going down(hill).