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The Paths We Take #11: The Warning

Apr 24, 2018







I’m in love, I thought to myself as I shut the oak door behind me. The older guy who met me at the gate when I arrived, was lounging on a brown leather armchair in the sitting room, leering at the door as it shut, and then looked at me with a smirk. Nikki mentioned that he was always watching her. She called him “Gramps,” a name fitting of his demeanor more than his age. I couldn’t blame him; I would watch her too.

“How was she?” Gramps asked, his smile broken by a cigarette that was hanging unlit from his mouth. He stood up and put his meaty hand on my shoulder and gave it squeeze.

“She was great,” I said, remembering what I promised Nikki. She really was great; I knew before stepping out of the room that I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about her. That is when the question came to me, why is she here?A lot of girls back at State were dancers, the clichéwas true, but they made good money. This was different though; Nikki was not a dancer, or at least not there.

Mr. Donnelly met me at the front door as Gramps pulled it open. “Your Dad wanted to make sure that you had the best. I hope you enjoyed yourself,” Donnelly commented as he shook my hand, the proper closing of a business transaction. It was hard for me to grasp the idea of Nikki as business.

“It was perfect, thank you,” I insisted as I looked him dead in his eyes, a better acting job than I had done during my conversation with Gramps. My voice was bubbly, like a boy who just got his first bike and took it around the block.

“Can I see her again?” I asked. The words came out involuntarily, like a plea for mercy. Donnelly gave a glacier white smile, a perfect row of white blocks stacked side-by-side.

“We’ll set it up,” Donnelly said. “Your dad will call you. I’m sure he will want to know how things went.”

The words made me cringe as I heard them. I wondered if my mother knew that my father was close with a man who supplied high-end escorts. I doubted she would care as long as the money was still coming in, along with the dinner parties, press conferences, charity balls, and weekend getaways to the islands. Money was king, and she was the queen.

I followed Gramps to the gate. As he opened it, he blew a thick cloud of smoke into my window as I passed. “I’ll tell pretty girl that you said goodbye.” My eyes stung from the smoke as I pulled out onto the road, the GPS spouting out detailed directions to the cabin where my friends would be drunk and high already, off an endless supply of expensive whiskey and other remedies for boredom. We didn’t worry about the cops coming anymore, or about them catching the scent of weed as it poured out the front door when they knocked. We had pills; a lot of them.

I was feeling good, a kind of euphoria that gave me new energy; I was alive. Nikki washed away all my thoughts of Samantha. I felt the magnetic pull tugging me back towards Donnelly’s, to her, the intensity growing as I sped faster and faster up the road. It wasn’t the fact that Nikki was the most beautiful woman that I’d ever met, it was the feeling that she needed me. She asked me to cover for her; she needed my help. Unlike Samantha, who never needed me at all, Nikki wouldn’t be able to use money to make her problems disappear.

A few miles down the road, a line of blue lights bounced off my rearview mirror. My speedometer read 65 mph, and I looked up to see the posted 45 mph speed limit sign. It wasn’t the first time that I’d been pulled for speeding, and I hated to admit that I used my father’s name to get me out of trouble on several occasions.

There wasn’t much room to pull off. I found some space on the shoulder in a bed of dead leaves that crunched and snapped as my tires rolled over. The blue lights were coming from within the front grill of what looked to be a silver Dodge Charger, and there were a small rectangular group of blue lights just inside the windshield in front of the rearview mirror. He must have been sitting at one of the scenic stops along the road, and without the top light-bar, I never noticed.

The officer didn’t get out right away, instead several minutes seemed to pass by while I rubbed my hands on my pants to try and get the sweat off. There was still a hazy orange light in the sky from the sun, but the officer turned on his takedown lights, creating a blinding glow that filled my car and turned my mirrors into tiny suns.

I had already rolled my window down, the chill from the air spilled inside and my arms turned to goose flesh and started to shiver from the cold. I could hear the officer’s car door open with a metallic screech and the sound of heavy boots on the dry leaves as he walked towards my open window.

The officer wasn’t wearing a uniform, just a charcoal gray Carhartt jacket over a black shirt. He looked like military, with a shadow of stubble covering his chin. “You’re going to get yourself killed,” he warned.

“I’m sorry officer, I just didn’t realize how fast I was going,” I stammered, like a twelve-year-old. His lips didn’t move, his eyes glared into mine, and he didn’t respond. I tried to think of something else to say.

“Where you headed?” the officer asked, almost whispering. I realized that I was wiping my hands on my pants again and I put them back on the steering wheel.

“I am just um… headed back to meet my friends. We’re having a sort of get-together-”

“Where you coming from?” the officer interrupted, now leaning down with his forearm resting on my door as he peered into the car, his eyes darting to the passenger seat and then to the rear seat.

“I was just meeting with a friend of my dad,” I said. “He lives just a few miles back-”

“You need to slow down; people get killed out here all the time flying around these curves.”

“Yes sir,” I said. I could feel my shoulders loosen as I sat back onto the leather seat and took a few breaths. The officer gave a tight-lip smile and then turned his body back towards his car. I thought he was leaving, but then he leaned back down and stared at me.

“I hope you enjoyed your meeting… Mr. Donnelly prefers to keep his business matters private,” he said as he reached in and pulled a long blonde strand of hair from my shirt. He studied it for a second, and then let it fall to the ground.

The officer walked back to his car, and before shutting his door he called out, “drive safe.”


© Josiah A. Miller 2018. All Rights Reserved.