Little crowds began gathering all up and down the street. She definitely couldn’t run. The little boy with the curly locks that she had almost creamed was in the arms of a woman who had to be his mother, same curly locks. Hers had been hit with a straightener though. She scanned the woman’s face, obviously hadn’t seen a thing. There was too much concern in her expression as she looked on the wreck of the minivan to have any idea that it had almost killed her child. Shelia continued to scan the crowd. None of the faces showed any clue that they had witnessed anything. Somebody must have seen something. Either way, Shelia needed a story fast. A police squad fishtailed around the corner in front of her. It’s not quite an emergency any more boys. You can relax a little.
The story, why is this big silver minivan wrapped around this innocent, though terribly strong, oak? Shelia quickly rifled through ideas. Drunk driver? No way, too early in the morning. Maybe he’s a third shifter. There you go, stopped at the bar after work. He spent two hours pounding them down and then couldn’t see straight enough to make it home. That would have to do. The officer was standing at the window. Two ambulances and another squad pulled in around the scene. She let her intense expression give way to one a bit more innocent and confused.
“Are you alright Miss?” The officer’s calm and reassuring voice didn’t fit his rough appearance.
She glanced up at his nametag, O’Malley. She almost laughed. Her dad used to crack jokes about Irish flat feet. This guy had never walked a beat in his life. He was too round for that. She shook her head before responding. “I think so.”
“You mind telling me how you managed to get your car around this tree?” His tone remained completely relaxed. He was good at this. He must have a lot of experience dealing with scared moms.
Shelia played the part perfectly. She continued, the slightest tremble in her voice, “I swerved to miss a car. I think the driver might have been drunk. They were all over the road. They must have clipped my back end.” She kept her eyes fixed on O’Malley’s. She didn’t flinch.
“Can you give me a description of the vehicle? Did you get the plates? Did you see the driver of the vehicle at all?” He was sold. He seemed completely bored with the situation. Nothing to report here Captain.
Shelia noticed out of the corner of her eye that other officers were questioning the various groups of onlookers that had gathered to watch the excitement. It looked like a block party. Can’t worry about them. “It was a big black car. It happened so fast. I didn’t see the plates. I don’t know, I think it might have had four doors.”
“You don’t know what kind of car it was?”
Yeah Sherlock, it was a late model Cadillac Deville, license plate number “VNY HRT”. “No.” She shook her head again and gave him a distant look, “It was black.”
O’Malley sighed and took a deep breath. It was always the same with these women. He’s looking for a big black car. Well at least he’s kind of sure that it has four doors. That narrows it down. “Thanks Ma’am. I’ll send a paramedic over to have a look at you.”
“Oh that’s okay. I’m all right. I’m just a little groggy.” No examinations here thanks. We’ll be just fine.
“Look lady,” O’Malley seemed to be losing his patience. He must be working overtime and eager to get done. “You’ve got blood all over your chin and your lips and nose are obviously swollen. Now my friend,” He paused and read the paramedic’s name tag, “Williams…Williams what’s your first name? My friend Steve Williams is going to take a quick look at you. You don’t have to go to the hospital, but I need to know that you don’t have anything broken. Okay?” His eyebrows raised and his eyes bugged slightly as he finished.
Shelia just nodded. Steve could have a look, but she wasn’t getting stuck in any hospital. There was work to do. She needed to know what kind of a jackass drives around running people off the road with personalized plates on his Cadillac. He wouldn’t be hard to find; one of those wanna’ be big city players stuck in a small town that they had confused for a big city. The poor moron would be so eager to prove he was a player that his scent would be all over the city. Once she found him, she could find out who hired him and how they found her.
By the time Steve finished looking Shelia over, she was out of the van and it was being loaded onto a flatbed tow truck. O’Malley had been back. Thankfully, if there were any witnesses they didn’t feel like talking. All the better, this was her fish to fry. She didn’t need the cops getting in her way.
Suddenly, a wave of panic swept over her. What about Mark and the kids? Obviously somebody knew who she was. This somebody didn’t want her dead. If they did, they would have hired a pro and not some jackass from Wisconsin. Whoever had a price on her head was just messing with her. That was the type that would use your family to get to you. They’d make you suffer before they took you out. She called Mark.
“Hey Babe. What’s up? Is everything okay?” Same tone as always, blissfully unaware of the world he was living in. He was so lucky.
Scared and alone, scared and alone, “I had an accident this morning.”
“Oh my god! Are you alright?”
“I’m okay. The van’s in pretty rough shape though. I hit a tree.”
“How did you hit a tree?”
“Drunk driver, I swerved to miss him but he hit the back of my van and I slammed right into a tree.” She kept up the scared and alone act. After twelve years of marriage, she knew just how to play it. Let him be the hero and come to her rescue. That’s what she’d do.
“Where are you?” He was beginning to freak out.
“Honey, I’m okay.” She eased up a bit on the scared and alone. “Don’t freak out or you’ll end up wrapping your car around a tree before you get to me.”
“Alright,” a little calmer, “where are you?”
She didn’t know. She wasn’t sure just yet why she was where she was either. He’d definitely want to know why she wasn’t at work. “I’m not sure. Wait, let me look at the street signs. I’ll be waiting on the corner of Lucy Lane and Deborah Way.” She hated these subdivisions. Oops, we ran out of names for our streets. Guess we’ll have to use common first names in place of something that means something.
“Where the hell is that?”
“I don’t know.” Here comes the story. “I was dropping off Stacy’s candle order on my way to work. She lives in Brookfield past 124th in this subdivision from hell that I’m stuck in. Anyway, after I dropped it off I got lost because all of these streets curve around and cross each other ninety five times and…”
“Wait a minute.” Mark interrupted her, “I’ll look the intersection up on Mapquest. Don’t worry about it. Who’s Stacy?”
Who’s Stacy? Good question. “You know, I work with her. You met her at the Christmas party two years ago, the one downtown at the Grain Exchange. We hung out with her and her husband Tim. Stacy Fleming? Is any of this ringing a bell?” Mark never remembered anything.
“No, we hung out with a lot of people that night. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I’m on my way. I’ll see you in a bit. Love you.”
“I love you too babe.” Scared and alone, scared and alone, “Please hurry.”
She couldn’t believe he didn’t ask if they caught the guy. She’d tell him it was a hit a run and give him the same song and dance she gave O’Malley. He’d want to find the guy and kick his ass. He always fancied himself a hero. She let him pretend he was. He was always in control of the situation. She let him be.
The crowd began to break up as the flatbed pulled away with the van. Then the ambulances left and then all of the squads except for O’Malley’s. “Can I give you a lift somewhere Ms. Ramsey?”
“No thanks. My husband’s on his way.” ‘And I’m done with the pride of the Brookfield P.D., Sergeant O’Malley’, “He’s picking me up at that corner over there.” She pointed at the intersection. “Thanks anyway.”
“Alright, take it easy Ms. Ramsey.” He fished a card out of his pocket. “If you remember anything about the vehicle that hit you, please give me a call.”
She nodded as she took the card. ‘Will do Sarge.’ He left. Shelia walked to the corner to wait for Mark. She put the finishing touches on her story as she went.