I was not driving, and that was a good thing. I had choices, and I was close to making one of them which was probably a permanent one. I reached down and grabbed the handle on the door of the 1968 Charger. I contemplated opening the door even at 80 miles an hour and jumping out. There could not be anything good coming my way after the last few days.
Rumbling down Interstate 10 with Michael Hobbs driving the Charger. His wild eyes darting back and forth while sweat beaded up on his forehead, I was lost for words. There was no escaping our choices we made a few hours ago. There is no going back now. My life is over, and I knew it. So, jumping out of the Charger and hopefully dying was not a wrong choice. Spending my life in prison would never be an option but killing myself by hurdling myself out at this speed was one option I am really contemplating. Michael is driving thoughtlessly down the highway, passing cars on the side of the road was sure to bring the cops looking for us sooner than expected.
“Why did you do it!” I screamed as loud as I could.
Michael glanced over at me, “It just happened that’s all, don’t blame me.”
“Don’t blame you! Are you kidding me, Michael? That was a choice you made, and now I am involved in this nightmare!”
“Did we need the money or not?” Michael said yelling without taking his eyes off the road.
The roar of the engine and his erratic behavior and senseless swearing made me even more nervous.
“Yes, we needed the money but not this way.”
“It happened so live with it,” Michael said.
“You didn’t have to stick a gun in the guy’s face.”
“Yeah I did; he wouldn’t give us the money. I had to help him choose a different answer than saying ‘no.’”
“I don’t see it that way, Michael.”
“So how do you see it then, Nell?” Michael yelled.
“I don’t know but shooting him in the face was not the right choice.”
“Well it’s done now, and we need to run,” Michael said.
“Did you ever think there are probably camera’s in those gas station stores. They got us on video I’m sure of it! They also probably have camera’s outside and have our license plate number and tracking us right now!” I said nervously running my fingers through my hair.
There was a long silence, a dark silence as we both said nothing. I don’t know what Michael was thinking, but he was sweating and kept wiping his face with his shirt sleeve. Maybe he was thinking about those cameras.
The sack sitting at my feet had the money from the cash register. I thought about counting it, but whatever the amount we got wasn’t worth shooting that gas station attendant over.
“How much do you think we got, Nell?
“I’m guessing around a hundred bucks, Michael. That’s not going to get us very far.” I said while looking back and forth down the road then glancing at the passenger’s rearview mirror.
“We got a full tank of gas, too don’t forget that.” Michael looked over at me for a split second before looking back at the road.
“Oh yeah, that was part of the bonus package for shooting that dude,” I said with sarcasm. So, I half decide not to jump out of the car, I might not die, and then I’d end up in a wheelchair as a babbling idiot and drooling down my chin.
“Maybe you should slow it down just a little bit so if we pass a cop he doesn’t turn around,” I said.
Michael let off the gas pedal slightly bringing the Charger close to the 65 mile an hour speed limit.
“How is that?” He said.
“Better, it might buy us a little more time of freedom before this is all over,” I said.
“What do you want to do if we do get pulled over?” Michael asked.
“I have no idea. Shooting at the cops will get us both killed, I’m sure of that.”
“We will spend the rest of our lives in prison. Does that sound like a real choice?” Michael said.
“I guess you just want to hop on out of the car and start shooting?” I said.
“I don’t know, really I don’t. I suppose we will make the decision If and when we are faced with it.” Michael said.
“Yeah, I suppose.”
Looking straight ahead. I thought back to my life before meeting Michael. I always saw myself as easy going, but I am shy and have never had many friends. Having braces through high school didn’t help my self-esteem either. My life changed forever on that Thursday night when I met Michael Hobbs in a bar. I was sitting by myself watching people when he walked up and asked if he could have a seat. We talked and hit it off right away. We slept together that first night, and within two weeks we moved in together. It was magic, and for the first time in my life, I felt complete.
Michael worked construction, and I had a job in a department store. There was so much promise, and I thought we would have a future until I had the bright idea of stealing two expensive purses from my department store. Instead of prosecuting me they fired me. The rainy summer took Michael’s construction job. We slowly ran out of money and desperation surrounded us like a heavy winter coat. When we were three months behind on the rent, it was time to leave. So here we are rolling down the highway with a still warm gun at my feet and a spent shell casing in the revolver.
I turned to Michael, “Pull this car over right now, I want out,” I said.
“I’m not pulling over for nothing, Nell.”
“You either stop, or I will open this door and jump out,” I lied.
Michael chuckled, “Really, you would jump out at this speed.” He stomped on the gas pedal to make his point. “You are as dumb as a rock if you choose to do that.”
“Pull over Michael!” I raised my voice slightly.
He shook his head, no.
“Michael, I mean it, pull over, right now,” I screamed as loud as I could.
Michael glanced at the rearview mirror turned on the blinker and slowed the Charger down until he stopped.
“You want out, get out.” He yelled so loudly it made my ears ring.
I sat there making choices with one hand on the dashboard and one on the door handle. I bowed my head and cried uncontrollably. The Charger idled while I wept, and Michael never said a word. Through my tears, I looked over at the passenger’s seat. There was no one sitting there except the sack with the money and the revolver on the floor. I’m confused. I’m in the driver’s seat with both my hands gripping the stirring wheel.
I put the car in park but didn’t turn the engine off. I opened the door to get out. I ran around the back of the car and there on the edge of the road I vomited. I heard a car slow as the tires crunched on the gravel behind me. I turned around while wiping my mouth it was the Highway Patrol.
I turned my head back towards the car, “Michael what should we do now?” There was no answer. “Michael!”
I looked back at the Charger the driver’s door was open, I could hear the engine idling, and I could see the turn signal blinking on and off. I realized Michael must have been hiding and I felt abandoned, I am alone.
The officer got out of his car while raising his gun at me from behind his open door. I raised my hands in the air.
“Miss, step away from the car and get down on your knees right now.” The officer said.
“I did exactly what he said. He came up still holding his gun. I closed my eyes I was afraid he was going to shot me. I felt his hand on my back as he pushed me into the gravel face down before kneeling on my back and handcuffing me.
“Is there anyone else in the car?”
“Michael is in there.”
The officer pulled his gun out again and called for backup. He walked carefully up the passenger’s side of the car. Searching from window to window he came back and said, “There is no one else in the car.”
“What do you mean no one’s there, Michael is in there?” I said.
“Lady there isn’t anyone else in the car. You are all alone.”
“It’s Michael you are looking for, he is the one that shot that guy at the gas station.
“I don’t know what you are thinking, but the camera shows you filling up the car with gas then reaching under the driver’s seat and picking up a gun. You walked into the gas station raised the gun and demanded money. When the attendant said no, you shot him once right in the face. You walked around the counter and emptied the cash register.”
I’m confused. I closed my eyes so tight that it hurts, I’m trying to remember.
“I didn’t shoot anyone, Michael did,” I said.
“There is no Michael, you are on video back at the gas station. You shot that attendant in the face, that’s a fact.” The patrolman grabbed me with both hands around my arm and sat me up.
I’m trying to remember, and all I see is Michael holding the gun with both hands as he pulled the trigger. It made my ears ring it was so loud. Michael did it, I’m sure of it.
“Lady, you are going away for the rest of your life. You better enjoy this scenery while you have the chance because all you’re going to see in a little while is a jail cell.” He jerked me to my feet.
“I’m wondering where Michael Hobbs could be. I should have jumped out of the car when I had the chance.”