Clown Car

“Guys I actually have no idea where we are going,” I said, annoyed by the commotion in the clown car full of seven boys designed for four. The winding roads of Redding didn’t make things any better, with every new turn the headlights flashed on another farmhouse making me think I was just driving in circles. We had just left a gas station, stacked up on candies and energy drinks for the night, and we were on our way to the big New Year’s party.

“Russ, you wanna hurry up? you drive like my grandma,” Bryan said from the back seat.

“Yeah seriously, it’s gunna be twenty fifteen by the time we even show up.” Alex yelled over the cranked up hip hop in the golden 1989 Buick Century my grandmother had handed down to me. It was hard to even tell what song was playing due to the bad quality of the outdated stereo, but we were teens, so quiet was not an option.

Ever since I got my license five months before, I had always been on the look out for cops, but now the stakes were raised with a car overstuffed with babbling idiots.

I stopped at the stop sign and rotated my back to look in the back seat, “Shut up!” I yelled at them. They shut up, “Guys! I don’t know where to go!”

“Ohhh, why didn’t you just say that then?” Kian asked. I just turned around and stared at him.

“Jesus, Kian.” I shook my head. “Well, can someone lead me to the house, please.” Finally with Kian’s directions, I was able to pick up the pace even with cops out this late. A rare Redding straightaway emerged and I floored it: thirty miles an hour rose to forty… then fifty, and all the way to pushing seventy miles an hour. Then I heard the sound, the sound that no driver, let alone a teenage driver with a car full of goons wants to hear. The car went silent as the sound of police sirens filled the air. My heart sank to the bottom of my chest. Tears built up inside me. Thoughts piled in my mind: will my parents take my license? Will they even love me anymore? What is everyone at school going to think?

I checked my mirrors to be sure of my fate, but there was no red and blue lights. I looked out all the windows and still no sign of the police, just the blaring sound of sirens.

The car erupted with laughter directed at me for being dumb enough to fall for their stupid pranks.

“I can’t believe you fell for that!” Zach laughed.

“You should have seen your face!” cried Alex in tears of joy, imitating my face of despair.

“Are you kidding me. You piece of – I ought to kill you!” I bluffed while making eye contact with him through the mirror. The commotion in the back seat didn’t stop as the straight away came to a close. The car was still traveling at a seventy mile per hour pace when we reached the end. The oncoming turn was a lot sharper than I accounted for. It didn’t help that there was both a right and a left, and with no idea which to take, I panicked.

“Guys which way?!” I asked frantically looking for an answer. My words were lost in the air, but I needed an answer. “GUYS!” It was too late though. I no longer could influence the direction of the wheels. There was only one last resort: the brakes. But I slammed on them to no avail.

I could feel my mouth slowly open and my eyes squint close as the car barreled towards the dirt pile.

My eyes closed tight like before impact on a log flume, and then it happened.

The car became a rocket ship and rumbled while climbing up the hill, shaking with every rock and piece of shrubbery it overcame. The mayhem all happened in chaos, then silence. The contrast between the car crash and immediate silence surprised us all. No one moved or spoke for seconds that seemed like minutes. Scared to see somebody not all right, nobody looked at each other.

Finally, without comment, I pulled the car into reverse and descended down the mountain, not even looking behind to see if a car was coming. I pulled the ship onto the side of the road and shifted back into park.

“Guys, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to do that,” I apologized while finally looking back at all the healthy faces.

“Don’t worry about it, man.” They all tried to console me, “It’s all good.” We all piled out of the car to assess the damage. I hesitated to look at the potential nightmare I could be facing with my parents. Finally I mustered up the courage to peek, and was pleasantly surprised by my findings. The only piece out of the ordinary was the right headlight protruding out like an eye out of its socket. The others joined me in my celebration as I duct taped the light back in place with tape from the trunk.

“Damn you are lucky.” Zach sighed as he got back into the car

“Well if it weren’t for you I may have not been in this mess,” I replied with a nastier tone than I intended.

“There is a lesson to learn from this man,” preached Bryan from the back. “All of us need to learn from this. First off, you Russ need to be more sensitive about having seven lives in your hands; one slip up like that and, poof, its over for all of us. The last lesson for all of us: you never know what can happen, live every day like it’s your last and be grateful for what you have.”

“Shut up, Bry,” we said in unison.