In the darkness, the freeway bridge was a river of light from the streetlights and traffic that coursed its path away from the city. The headlights of two cars erratically moved across the bridge lanes as they raced, swerving between other speeding cars. The young men in the two cars were tense from their car chase. Anger on their faces flashed and darkened when they sped through the islands of light on the bridge. As though prisoners, rather than passengers, their cultural scripts directed them forward on the road.
One of the two cars pulled ahead and rapidly switched lanes to again escape being rammed by the other. Intent on the race, the drivers accelerated toward the bridge toll booths. Instinctively, on seeing the stopped cars ahead, one driver lifted his foot from the accelerator. Fearlessly, the other driver accelerated until the cars were side-by-side. Death stares between the men penetrated the glass windows being rolled down. Flashes of bullets bursting from both cars traced their paths to pierce through metal, glass, and flesh. Sprays of blood, looking black in the dim light, spattered each car’s interior and passengers.
The fearless driver slumped over his steering wheel, as his helpless passengers attempted to revive him and control their car. A mistake was made; the car veered and smashed into a toll booth. The explosion from the crash extinguished the young lives within the car. It also brightened the grinning face of the other car’s young driver. He howled with victory, as he maneuvered through the other empty toll lane. But, it was a lonesome moment; his passengers remained silent. Only the beating rhythm and voice of their favorite rap music lingered.
“Bro! Bro! Did you see that!” Raymond yelled above the music to his hero, Oscar. The teen felt a rush far beyond what he experienced when he won a video game race or boss battle. He decelerated onto the freeway leading away from the bridge and urban sprawl. His new camouflage, as a safe and sane driver, reduced his adrenaline buzz. This allowed him to realize he was only accompanied by the rhythmic verse of rap. He turned down the music and heard a moan slide out of the dismal light where the car’s owner, Oscar, sat in the passenger seat. Desperate for another sign of life, the driver turned on the interior light and jerked his head around to glance at his mentor and the three-man crew in the back seat.
“No, no, no!” Raymond cried out, as he viewed the silent carnage around him. Oscar, lay slumped against the passenger door; he emitted another moan. Blood flowing from his mouth and chest, coated the front of his trendy clothes.
“Oscar. Oscar. I’ll get you to a doctor,” Raymond rasped, as he continued looking for an off-ramp. Construction blocked the next off-ramp. He stared at the detour sign informing him that another off-ramp would be five miles away. His eyes focused on his friend’s half-open eyes and mouth that gurgled out bloody bubbles.
Raymond winced and turned off the interior light.
“Oscar, hang on! Please, bro,” he said with his voice seemingly cracking from his anxiety-driven dry mouth.
Hoping it would take him into a city, he exited onto the next off-ramp. Clusters of fast food restaurants and gas stations crowded out his hope for a hospital.
Page one excerpt from Road Noise Short Stories To Thrill and Chill 2016 © Belinda A. Allen