The bumper stuck up through the glassy surface of the lake. I sat on the bank shivering, watching the sun’s show of orange and gold. The grass tickled my bare ankles. Just up the embankment, the traffic roared by in waves. The coarse fibers of the wool blanket the police gave me scratched my neck.
Officer Taylor squatted down in front of me. His blue, polyester uniform pants strained over his bulging, middle-aged midriff. “What happened?”
I watched his mustached mouth. “I don’t know. I guess I just fell asleep.” I picked a blade of grass and twisted it around my finger. My head felt heavy.
“Where were you headed?”
“Nowhere really. That’s unimportant. The important thing is where I was coming from?” The tow truck beeped as it backed down the embankment.
Officer Taylor didn’t respond at first. He looked straight into me as if looking for something. “Okay then. Where were you coming from?” He struggled to balance on his haunches.
“Atlantic City.” My wet jeans clung to my legs. My thighs itched.
“Something like that.” The metallic ring of the tow truck’s hook as it clamped down on the car cut the air.
“Where you from?”
“No. No. Coming from or returning to. Where were you returning to?”
The chain clinked around itself as it rolled onto the giant spool on the back of the truck.
It emerged slowly. The weekend special was only nine dollars and ninety-nine cents a day — a red Geo Metro shaped like a jellybean. I rented it for this trip.
Unable to squat any longer, Officer Taylor stood up. He looked over at the car, then back down at me. “You’re lucky to be alive.”
The front of the car was flattened. I looked at the car sitting on the bank, water bleeding from its seams. I thought about the duffle bag in the trunk. I imagined the block of white powder inside turning to paste. “Yeah. I’m lucky to be alive.”
H. Lovelyn Bettison is a freelance writer who lives and works in a quiet London suburb. Her short stories have appeared in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. Her story “Shifting” won second place in Humdinger Literary E-zine’s Musical Nostalgia Writing Contest.