The window was open just enough to let in the cool night air.
It was cramped and there was a harsh light coming from somewhere indistinguishable. When light is bright it shines as though coming from everywhere. The air was thick and there were points during the night when she thought she might not have been breathing for a few minutes. A small fan was working overtime, trying to compensate for the claustrophobic, small space.
It was hard to find a place these days where she wasn’t bothered. So the tight and confined aspects of her car didn’t affect her much. The light was a bit like what she imagined a concentration camp to feel like, but she was not noticeable, and that made the lights seem further away somehow.
A loud grating noise, followed by shouts and beeping began. She lifted her head out from the back of her car to look forward into the dash. Through the front window she saw the shipyard she had parked at, the only place open at 4am on a Thursday. The fishermen and women were moving fast, the ships were all moving. Some of the people were jumping from the shore onto the ships, yelling at one another. 4am and already starting their day. Most people hadn’t even turned off their first alarm, the woman hiding beneath a tent top sleeping in the back of her car thought.
Her whole body felt, hazy. All cognition came slowly, as it can only do when one is drastically sleep deprived. Blurrily, she set her head down and fell back into her warm stupor, as the fan blew lazily on her face…
The sound of a car echoed through the ajar window. She woke with a start. Where was she? The light of the morning was bright. Consulting her phone, it was 8am. Awkwardly, since her car was so small, she shifted her aching body from the back, trunk area where she had been sleeping, to the driver's seat. As she started the car, a quick glance beside her made her notice a black convertible parked beside her that had not been there when she was last awake. She wondered if she startled them by starting the car. They would have thought no one was in there. At least she hoped that is what they had assumed and they had not been watching her sleep or something. Creeped out by her own brain’s musings, she shifted the car into reverse and revved out of there.
The road had nothing. No people, no cars, no houses, just sand dunes and the occasional low flying seagull. The sun felt hot, she started missing that 4am sun that still lacked true heat. She looked back in her rearview mirror, a cop car peaked over the last hill. Her heart fluttered in her chest. She turned to check her speedometer. 45mph, in a 50 zone, she was in the clear. Instead of looking into her mirror she continued to glance at the speedometer, almost forgetting to look out at the road ahead. The cop car was getting closer. She knew she was going slow, but maybe the cop would pass and she would be done with it. A worry, a silly concern of the moment. Written off as ‘paranoia of the moment.’ What a laugh. Yes that would be it, just like all the other times. The car was closer still. In, she guessed 30 seconds, he would be riding her ass, desperate to pass.
30 seconds. On the bumper now.
Please don’t linger there long, she thought. Just go around. Please go around. As though by her thinking it, the action would then take cue, the police car surged around her angrily. With a sign of relief, she watched the car roar into the distance. Able to think again, she glanced down at her phone to see she had 50 miles left until her destination.
About 40 minutes later, with the more intricate driving directions coming up, she decided to stop and get gas. A coffee might not be a bad idea either, she was so groggy. She pulled into a 7-Eleven, filled up her clunker car with premium level gas, and went into the store to pee and get some refreshment. After the bathroom she filled up a cup of coffee and proceeded to the counter. She hastily grabbed a protein bar and a bag of chips along the way.
When she arrived at the counter the young man didn’t even look at her. He rang up her purchases as a perfect imitation of a machine, all monotony and lack of vigor. “$8.03,” he declared in his bored tone. She fished around in her jean pocket for some change. She knew she had some pennies.
“Hey Miss. Maryland.”
The pennies she had located from her pocket fell to the floor and she froze, not daring to pick them up. The voice was haughty and playful; she knew it well though it had been a while. With a chuckle he reached over her to the counter where the robot was watching and flipped a ten dollar bill out.
“I’ll take care of this, keep the change kid.” Without waiting for an answer, the cop directed her out of the store and to the gas pumps.
Looking around she saw that there were no other cars nearby. None but hers and the cop car that had passed her 50 miles ago, when she had laughingly thought she could possibly get away and be safe.
“You’ve been gone awhile. I’m impressed. How long have you been at it?”
She didn’t speak.
“You know how this ends, we might as well be pleasant.” He coxed.
She looked into his eyes and saying nothing started drinking her coffee. He watched and didn’t say anything either. She started on her protein bar and when that was done and the cop was still watching her silently she opened the chip bag and after taking one herself offered the cop the bag. Still staring at her with a furrowed brow he accepted a chip. They kept at it, one chip for her, then one for him, until the entire bag was gone. After crinkling up the bag and sucking down the rest of her coffee he spoke again.
“What was I supposed to do about it Nancy? What could I do?” He had a nervousness in his tone, a need to appeal.
She glared into his eyes, “If you can’t riddle that one out for yourself James, I can’t help you.”
“Where are you going anyway, you didn’t honestly think you would get away with this!”
“Didn’t? Why can’t I?”
“Because I’m going to have to report you!”
“Again? I thought you already did and that was what you were appealing about two seconds ago.”
“Yeah, well. I will have to again, won’t I?”
“If you are asking me I am going to disagree with you James.”
“You would say that! Go on James, it’s not that big a deal, just break the law with me. Come on, it will be fun!”
“I don’t think even you are stupid enough to go for that appeal. I can’t pretend like it’s fun.”
“I can’t let them take you away!” He looked away furiously, then back into her piercing stare. “I can’t...I-I don’t know what I am going to do with you…” he whispered almost to himself.
Still staring straight into his eyes, Nancy approached. She put her hand on James’ shoulder and rubbed his arm affectionately.
“Don’t worry James, you never knew what to do with me when you had me, I’m not going to make that your problem anymore.”
“What does th-?”
Nancy head butted James, making him fall to the ground in a heap. Glancing around there is still no one around. Nancy starts to push James under the belly of his cop car. She gets his chest under first and then quickly adjusts the legs and arms into more comfortable positions. Straightening up, Nancy grabs James’ walkie from the ground were it fell and hurries back to her car. Driving out of the parking lot the walkie begins to whistle.
“Officer Cady do you have the suspect?”
Dead air and heavy breathing permeated the small car as Nancy veered onto the 95 South.
“Officer Cady, is Nancy Nowland currently in custody?”
“No,” Nancy rasped back. “I lost her in the traffic.” She was hoping that the walkie was so static ridden her terrible impersonation of James would go unnoticed.
“Officer Cady, are you telling us you have lost the whereabouts of the known con artist Nancy Nowland, with the full knowledge that if you failed to arrest her, she would be running off with $25 million dollars she stole from Wall Street Brokers?”
The voice did not change in pitch, it delivered the information without variation. Facts were its law.
“Yes, I am aware. And may I retort, how much do these Wall Street Brokers make a year? I bet they can afford the loss.” Nancy bellowed back ferociously.
“Excuse me Officer!?” The voice went up in shock. Very abruptly, the connection cut out. Nancy revved her car to shift to a higher gear.
There would be more officers after her now after that prank. How could they not see the humor of the situation? It’s not like anyone had any sympathy for the Brokers she frauded. Everyone agreed they were not deserving of the wealth that gave them so much obscene control over others. So why did they continue to let the evil power of money control their actions? Why couldn’t everyone just take a break from the bullshit philosophy that wealth meant anything?
Well, she would have to show them herself, how little all this money truly meant. $25 million. It was a lot but to these assholes, it was what they would have paid if they bothered with taxes. She would take it and do some good where money could turn into something real. She would make it real again by doing something that mattered. Not something as abstract and unwhole as the abomination of currency itself. All she had to do was keep driving and avoid the multiplying cops scattering the roads. Between the construction and the cop cars she could never go above 60mph. She was never going to get there. But if she did, if her nerves could hold out to get her to the pier in Savannah, Georgia; then a different path waited. A ship was waiting for her, and then, a future of...who knows. But she sincerely hoped it was different.
over & out. ANgr