As Russ sped down the Maryland side of 956 towards the West Virginia border, he glanced at his watch. It was almost midnight. During this minor distraction, Russ felt the back tires of his Chevy break loose from the road, slick from the recent rain, and begin to slide. Quickly depressing the clutch and counter steering, He easily brought the car back under his control.
"Shit Russ, watch out!" Russ's brother Tim was trying to control the involuntary shaking in his left hand.
"Quit your bitchin' Tim. I was driving before you were born."
Through the fog ahead Russ saw the rear lights of another car.
"Just calm down, Tim. Do your thing with the car."
Tim took a deep breath to steady his nerves, as he leaned forward and squinted to get a better view of the upcoming car's taillights.
"It's an Audi… 4000 S, I think." Tim's hand stopped shaking for a moment then started again as Russ shifted into the left lane to pass the other car.
"Look, do you want me to slow down and let the cops get us, we just robbed a gas station brother, they put people in jail for that."
"Just… just… take it easy okay."
* * *
Sally wasn't speeding, although she may have been traveling too fast considering the dense fog, and slick road. She tapped the brake as she past a speed advisory sign, suggesting 35 mph for the turn ahead, then slammed them to the floor as she saw a Ford Taurus sliding sideways toward her on her side of the road.
Sally steered hard for the far right side of the road as the back end of the other car swung around and collided with her door. Hundreds of shards of glass sailed through the car as the driver's side window shattered. Sally's car skidded to a sudden halt as the front axle bent from the impact, and both left tries blew out.
At that instant, Russ's Chevy rounded the turn narrowly avoiding the spinning Taurus. Russ feathered the clutch and brought his car to a stop just in front of Sally's Plymouth Laser. Looking through the rear view mirror, he saw the Taurus flip over and finally come to rest on the opposite side of the road at the apex of the 35-mph turn. Russ shifted into first gear, preparing to leave the scene when his brother stopped him.
"What're you doin' man? They might be hurt."
"Under normal circumstances, Timothy, I would be glad to oblige. But we can't exactly afford to be here when the cops show up now can we?"
"I just want to see if they're okay. We're still human, even if we're not decent ones."
Russ hesitated, then shut the car off, "Let's make this quick."
Tim climbed out of the car and walked towards the Laser. Sally had just climbed out and waved Tim on saying she was okay. Tim quickly surveyed the damage noting the broken axle, as Sally flipped open her cellular phone and began dialing.
"Are you okay?"
Sally nodded to Tim's query and he began to walk across the road to check on his brother, hovering over the other car. At that moment the Audi came around the curve and screeched to a halt just missing him The new arrival parked behind Russ's car, and its driver immediately headed for Sally's car.
"Sally, is that you?"
"Matt!?" Sally nearly dropped her phone in her bewildered state.
"Are you okay?"
The rain-clouds overhead released a slow drizzle as Sally dropped her calm exterior for a moment and wrapped her arms around Matt.
"Oh my God. Oh my God…" She had barely calmed herself when Russ shouted for help from the other car.
Matt and Sally ran to the upside-down Taurus where Tim was sitting on the ground with a young woman's head in his lap. Russ was on the other side trying to help the driver out of the wreckage. Matt hurried to Tim's side to help him with the woman. Tim looked at the newcomer in desperation.
"Do you know CPR? She's not breathing."
The blank stare on Matt's face told Tim that this short blonde haired man would be of no more help than he was. From across the car Sally shook her head.
"I called the ambulance, but she'll be dead by the time they get here. Someone has to do something!"
The driver of the Taurus rose to his feet and starred at his dying girlfriend, illuminated by the emergency flashers of Russ's car, as her lips began to turn blue.
Sally turned away in frustration, "This doesn't happen; people don't die like this! This is so stupid!"
Tim turned his head sharply to her direction, "Shut up! You're not helping anything." He pressed his lips to the woman's trying desperately to remember anything he'd seen in the movies or on TV.
The Taurus's driver knelt down on the edge of the road, holding his face in his hands rocking back and forth like a child. Sally turned around, walked up to him, and slapped him in the face as hard as she could; the man barely moved in response.
"This is your fault! You fucking bastard, you did this!"
In the flashing lights Matt saw Sally's bloodshot eyes and quickly hurried over to her, pulling her away from the Taurus.
Over the sounds of the falling rain, Tim's desperate attempts to save the woman, and her boyfriend's sobbing, Matt whispered into Sally's ear, "You're high aren't you?"
Tears instantly sprang to Sally's eyes; "I was at a party… at Derek's… and we…"
"You're drunk too," Matt said, noting the smell of Captain Morgan on her breath, and chiding himself for not noticing it earlier.
"God damn it, Sally. How can you be so fucking stupid?" Matt had to force himself not to shout. Sally started crying openly.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry…"
"All right, we just have to think our way through this. The cops are on their way here. Do you have anything in the car?"
"There's a bag of weed in the glove box."
"Is that it?"
"I think so," Sally said between sniffles.
Matt reached into his pocket and pulled out his keys. "Here take these and put it in my car before they get here."
Sally took the keys and kissed Matt on the cheek. "Thank-you."
"Just do it."
Tim had given up on reviving the women and simply sat on the side of the road, looking up into the black sky. Russ had retrieved some road flares from his car and was setting them up around the curve. Matt stood still in the middle of the road watching death claim its latest prize, then looked down at his hands and shook his head.
As a siren sounded in the distance, Russ ran back up the road towards his car, and shouted to Tim, "Time to go brother!"
Sally stepped in front of Tim as he started towards the car, "What, you're just leaving?"
"Yeah, we're in a bit of a hurry."
Matt quickly stepped in. "It's the cops isn't it? You're running from something that's why you were going so fast when you passed me."
At that moment Russ approached the group, "Yeah, that's right. And you're going to let us go without any trouble. I saw your girlfriend here put the bag of pot in your car. No one here is innocent, and no one has to get caught."
The driver of the Taurus stood and pointed at the dead woman. "She was innocent! I'm going down for this. I'm going to pay for what I did. And you all are going to pay for whatever you've done. I'll see to it."
Russ stepped towards the man and punched him in the squarely in the face. The man fell to his knees and blacked out. He then turned around to face Matt. "Give us your drugs. I'm betting he never saw the license plate on my car. I can drive away and there's no evidence against any of us."
The sirens were getting louder as Matt opened his passenger side door and threw the bag of marijuana to Russ. Russ and Tim then climbed into the Chevy and sped off into the night.
As the first ambulance arrived, Matt took off his jacket and draped it over Sally's shivering shoulders.
"I'll guess I'll hang here until you get this sorted out, and give you a ride home."