Fast Lane – for the Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower
Written for Anna Meade’s Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower
“Don’t this hunk of junk go any faster?”
The towheaded kid driving my Chevy Cavalier glared at me.
I glared right back.
“Stealing my car was your idea. Feel free to find a faster ride any time, son.”
The ginger in the back seat smacked the back of my head with her pistol.
“You got a mess of nerve, mister. For an old codger.”
I checked her out in the rear view. Red hair. Good shades. A sweet Kentucky twang meant for better things than kidnapping and grand theft auto. I rubbed the back of my head.
“Hands where I can see ’em!” barked the driver.
“The only thing you need to see is the goddamned road! Your girlfriend can keep track of my hands.”
The kid grunted and floored it. He took the next curve without slowing down.
“Where’d you learn to drive?” I asked.
He took a minute to answer. “Marines,” he grunted. “Combat driving.”
“Thought so. Same here.”
“Well, hoorah. That supposed to mean somethin’ to me?”
“It means something and you know it.”
The gun nudged my head.
“You’re awful observant,” said the redhead.
It got real quiet.
The kid twitched. The redhead ran over the possibilities.
“Relax,” I offered, “I haven’t been a cop in a decade and even then I had no jurisdiction here.”
She sat back. The gun went with her.
“Whatcha been doin’ since?”
“I’m the Justice of the Peace.”
We all took a second to let that sink in.
“Look,” I said, “you haven’t done anything that can’t be un-done. Had myself a spot of trouble not unlike this when I was your age and I caught a break so here’s my big chance to pay it forward.”
Dead quiet again.
“What?” I asked.
She spoke up before he could stop her.
“We stole some money.”
The kid swore under his breath.
“’Ten grand,” she said.
“Who’d you take it from?”
“It’s old man Potter’s.”
“Bastard had it coming! Went and sent our jobs to Indonesia. Lotsa good people hurtin’ now.”
“That’s old man Potter’s deposit?”
If anyone in town deserved to get robbed it was Potter.
“Gonna get married when we get outta town, right, honey?” She smiled at the driver.
“That’s right, baby.”
“So you need the money to get set up elsewhere?” I asked. “Don’t answer that. Rhetorical question.”
“Might not get the chance to get hitched,” he said, “if we get caught and all.”
“Well,” I said, “if you don’t mind stopping before we leave Meade County I can help you with that.”
“On the fly, then.” I cleared my throat. “I’ll need your names,”
“Camille! That there’s Ike.”
“I’m going to take it on faith you’re not related by blood. So– Camille, do you?”
She sat straight up and looked at Ike’s in the rear view.
“Ain’t how I dreamed it up,” she said.
“Well this is how it’s gotta be, baby,” he replied. “Answer the man! Please?”
“Yes!” she hollered. “I do!”
“Ike, do you?”
“Hell yeah, I do! I love you so much, baby!”
“Now by the power vested in me, you may kiss the bride.”
“You gotta be kiddin’!”
“Son, there’s two things I never kid about. One’s the proper temperature of a rib-eye off the grill and the other’s kissing. You kiss. I’ll steer.”
Ike grinned, leaned back, and planted one on her. I kept the car out of the ditch.
“Congratulations,” I said. “Now, let me off here. There’s a truck stop forty miles out, just before you get to the interstate. Leave my car there. You’ll be able to hitch a ride anywhere you want to go. Think of it as a wedding gift.”
The newlyweds looked at each other and then at me.
Nobody said a word.
My car was at the truck stop when I got there the next day.
Over the next year I often wondered if they’d made it.
One day, a postcard arrived, addressed to the Justice of the Peace, Meade County. People asked about it but I just smiled and pinned it up over my desk.
Happy anniversary, you crazy kids.
Title: Fast Lane
Author: Jeff Tsuruoka