You know the deal. Another story that was written back when I first decided to give writing a try. It has been slightly edited but is still mostly imperfectly kept in its original form. Raymond Carver’s influence is all over this, and I still credit him with making me want to be a writer. I didn’t realize how abusive the relationship in the story was at the time that I wrote it, but it definitely is an abusive one. I also see the “Fuck” was one of my favorite words back then. I actually submitted this to the New Yorker and received constructive feedback along with a rejection. That hasn’t happened again.
Accidents Will Happen
By R. Cypress
She was beginning to concentrate on the clanking sound that was coming from the back of the car. It was easily recognized as the sound of bottles clashing against each other. Robert still looked as if he were ready to kill as he sped along the highway. The situation had not changed since the two had started traveling into the night. An accident had happened and now Brandon was dead.
Two hours ago they had both been sitting around drinking when the phone call came. Robert had invited two acquaintances over that night to drink with them. She didn’t care much for the any of his friends, especially these two. The guy made stupid comments and the girl idiotically laughed at them; however, she knew how to play the role of a gracious host and she was playing it well that night. She had been wiping up beer that the girl had accidentally spilled when the phone rang. A couple minutes later Robert, who had went into the bedroom to answer it, came back into the living room where they had all been sitting. His face held an expression of shock and the blood seemed to have been drained from his face. The three sitting down had turned their attention to him and stared at him until he could tell what had happened.
“A car accident,” he slowly stammered out. “Brandon was in a car accident. A look of concern came upon her face as the two guests moved around in discomfort. “He…he..he’s dead, Robert said with disbelief. “My mom said see saw the body. He… really died in an accident.” She was quickly at his side as he began to look like he was going to fall. The two guests got up, mumbled a few words and quietly left.
She watched Robert’s behavior closely, to decide what her next action should be. She was ready to ask questions and to cry, but he had decided to do something that she was completely against. He had pushed her away from him, unintentionally causing her to hit her cheek against the wall.
“We’re leaving right now,” he said, heading towards the bedroom “There shouldn’t be too many cars on the road, so it should only take us about four hours to get there.” He was talking about his hometown, where Brandon had lived with their mother.
“I think we should wait until tomorrow.” She protested. Brandon was not listening. He had already gone into the bedroom and was frantically stuffing clothes into the suitcase that he had taken out. “You don’t have to pack too much, but be sure to pack something nice for the—” He stopped for a second before going back to packing. She could see the anger and frustration that was building up inside him. “I can’t believe this is happening,” he repeated over and over, as he viciously crammed objects into the suitcase. The whole time he was packing, she had calmly packed up her own things.
By the time she was done packing, Robert had already put his suitcase in the trunk and was ready to leave. As soon as he saw that she was done with her suitcase he seized it out of her hands and rushed off to throw it in the trunk. She had decided to try once more to dissuade him from driving under these conditions.
“Get in the car,” he said
“I really think that we just need to wait until tomorrow,” she stated once more.
“I said get in the fucking car.”
She was going to make a move for the car, but did not move fast enough for him. He had walked up to her, grabbed her by the collar of her sweater, and dragged her to the passenger side of the car.
It felt like he had left the driveway doing about fifty miles per hour and his speed only increased from there. When they reached the highway, her thoughts had completely drifted toward Brandon. She thought about how he was only sixteen and wondered about the circumstances surrounding the accident. Robert had only said that there was a car accident. Her mind was stuck on the image of a gruesome car wreck for several minutes. What did Brandon ’s body look like when his mom saw, she wondered. Were all his body parts still attached together? She didn’t want to think about these things, but she couldn’t stop the thoughts from happening.
The sound of the bottles in the backseat gave her something else to think about besides Brandon. It seemed to hypnotize her, and she slowly began to drift into light sleep. She was awakened by the sound of Robert’s voice.
“What the fuck is this?” she heard him say angrily. She sat up and looked out the front window. Robert had driven right up onto the tail of the car in front of him. It was a navy blue car with an out-of-state license plate. The car was moving at a speed more suitable for a residential neighborhood rather than a highway. She looked to her left side to see what was stopping Robert from going around the car. Roadwork was the cause of what was happening.
“Why the fuck is this car moving so damn slow? “Robert asked. She could see rage was going to be coming out soon. Before she could put in any advice for what he should do, Robert began slamming his fist into the horn. He did this about five times, and then stopped so that they both could take a closer observation of the navy blue car. Since it was night, she wasn’t too sure that her perception of the driver was correct until Robert said it.
“Is that really an old lady driving?” he asked, quickly glancing over at her. She squinted harder to get a better look at the rear view mirror of the car in front of them. It was definitely an elderly woman.
“Yeah, it is.” she answered, “but what is she doing on the road at this time of day”
“I can’t fucking believe this,” Robert said “It’s almost midnight and I’m stuck behind Miss Fucking Daisy on the highway. Well this old bitch is just going to have to pick up her speed.” He went back to honking the horn.
She continued to stare at the rear-view mirror. A look of terror seemed to be on the old woman’s face as Robert continued his loud honking. She thought about her own grandmother for a while and how many of the old people she had met in her life could easily be do something like what this old woman was doing. Driving at a time when they shouldn’t be driving and in a place where they shouldn’t be driving.
Robert had gotten so aggravated with the old woman that he had begun to flash his lights at her and was starting to roll down his window. His head went out the window and he began to yell. “You fucking bitch! Get off the fucking road, now!! He screamed more obscenities and some threats before putting his head back into the car. The old woman had actually turned her head around to get a look at the person who was victimizing her. When the old woman did this, she was able to get a look of the terror the old woman was going through. The old woman really did look like a deer caught in the headlights. Maybe the old woman will pick up her speed, she thought to herself, and all this commotion will stop happening.
The navy blue car did not pick up speed. Instead it began to slightly sway inside the lane, almost knocking over the orange cones to the left and going over the hill to the right. After a couple of minutes of this, the old woman seemed to gain complete control of the car once more; however, her speed did not pick up.
“I don’t know what else to do,” Robert said quietly.
He had stopped honking his horn, yelling, and flashing his lights at the old woman. He sat silently for a moment and then he suddenly started to accelerate. She was certain that he was going to ram into the navy blue car, but she never felt an impact. To her it appeared as if he had positioned himself as close as possible to the rear of the navy blue car, without touching it. The old woman had lost complete control of the car by herself.
They both watched as the navy blue car veered all the way to the right and off the highway. It went down the hill for a couple of seconds before it started to flip over. Neither one of them saw the car come to a rest or how much damaged had been done. They both just sat in disbelief as Robert got his speed up to the exact speed limit.
They continued on without any other signs of life showing itself on the highway. They sat without a word being said and did not stop until almost an hour later. Robert pulled into the gas station and told her his plans. She would go inside to use the restroom, without saying a single word to the person behind the register and he was going to call the police from the pay phone to report the crash. He walked her to the door of the restroom to make sure she complied with his plan and then headed towards the pay phone. He was there at the restroom door when she came out and walked with her back to the car.
“I made an anonymous call,” he told her “I gave them an estimated location of where the accident happened, told them how the accident happened, and where I was at when I witnessed the accident.” He put her back into the passenger seat and closed the door. Then he went into the seat behind her and took out the bottles. She saw that they were beer bottles. As he was pumping the gas, she thought about how great things would be again when the accidents were gone and forgotten.