Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Ride

People have asked me how I ended up here, I mean, I don’t exactly look like a vicious animal. I know a guy down the way who bit a sheep and they’re giving him the needle. I know another guy whose family moved away and didn’t tell him and so here he is. There’s a gal next to me who got freaked out by some fireworks and ran. Maybe she’ll get out, but the rest of us? I kind of doubt it.
How did I get locked in here? Well, it was a string of fairly simple events that just sort of snowballed… Ok so it wasn’t simple. Or it was, I don’t know. I stole a car. But you know I had my reasons and things just got out of hand. It’s actually a pretty interesting story and if you’ll stop scratching for two minutes I’ll tell it to you.

It was really nice out, I mean really nice out. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the squirrels were running around on the lawn and there was even a Gods-be-damned cat sleeping in the middle of the street. It was one of those days that you just can’t spend inside. So where was I? I was inside of course. The folks had gone off for the day and left me alone in the house with nothing to do.
That still pisses me off you know. They were probably on a hike in the woods or visiting Aunt Gladice who has eight cats. There was nothing to do in that house and those… people… had just gone off without me. The front window faced south so the sun was pouring in all morning. I would lie in the sun until it got too hot then move to the shade, and then move back again. That went on for a while. Sun, shade, sun, shade. The mailman wasn’t due for hours yet, my toys were old and uninteresting and I was just about to go out of my mind with boredom. It was when I had gotten up to move into the shade that I decided to get a drink as well. That was when I saw the car keys. The folks have two cars after all and they had left one set of keys behind when they went off to wherever they had gone.
I sat and stared at those keys for a good long time, watching them dangle from the hook, the sunlight reflecting off the metal bits. There was a little voice inside of me saying that I shouldn’t do it, that there would be hell to pay, but as I kept thinking, that little voice got smaller and smaller until it was gone. I reached up, grabbed the keys and headed for the front door. The edges of the keys dug into my skin, urging me on. The front door was a little tricky but I got it open eventually and I’m pleased to say that I even closed it behind me. I, unlike certain others I know, was not born in a barn.
The day was just as nice as it looked from inside the house and parked at the curb in front of me, gleaming in the sun, was that car. Red. Convertible. Thunderbird. I could feel my stomach tightening, my pulse quickening. I closed my eyes and then opened them again. It was still there. I smiled.
I had never been allowed in this stunning specimen of an automobile. The folks always claimed that there wasn’t enough room, but I knew what they really meant. They were afraid I would scratch the leather or get mud on the seats. They had no trust in me, none whatsoever. Well, it was my turn now, and I wasn’t just going to go for a drive. Oh no. I was going to go for a drive.
I didn’t bother opening the door; I just jumped into the driver seat, licked my lips and took hold of the wheel. I admit that I did fumble a little with starting the thing, but then manipulating little metal things isn’t easy for me. But, oh the sound that car made when the engine started, it was like the world was coming to an end and I had the four horsemen chained under my hood. I buckled my seat belt, again not without some trouble, and adjusted the mirrors. That was when I saw the cat.
It was still lying in the middle of the street but now it was looking up at me. I could see it mouthing the words, “You don’t have the balls to do it.” Well, that’s not an argument that I usually take up with anyone, but this time I only smiled. Smiled and revved the engine. I remember how round that damn cat’s eyes got as that sweet, sweet car bore down on it, roaring like an animal. That is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
No, I didn’t run the damn hairball over. I will admit that it did cross my mind and I probably wouldn’t be sorry if I had. The stupid, arrogant asshole was too fast. Either all the licking greased its fur and made it slip around the tires or it was just faster than the average pampered household waste of fur. I could hear it yowling behind me about how I was crazy, how I was going to get caught and some bullshit like that. I didn’t care.
The whole open road was in front of me, the wind in my curls and this amazing piece of machinery responding more to my thoughts than to anything else. But first, oh yes, first I had to find someone to share it with. So I headed to my friend’s house, to pick up Rufus.
Rufus nearly crapped on the couch when he saw me in my new ride. He stared at me through the front window with his mouth hanging open. He had that really stupid look on his face that he gets when he starts thinking too hard. I’m pretty sure it’s a German thing.
He didn’t look like he was going to move anytime soon so I yelled at him, “Get out here or I’ll tell everyone that you couldn’t go for a ride because you were too busy fucking a cat!” That got him moving.
Rufus didn’t jump through the window, although I think he almost forgot that there was a sheet of glass there. He did, however, jump through the screen door. I’ll bet his folks are pretty tired of him doing that. I yelled at him to jump in and not scratch the paint.
“Damn dog, where’d you get the ride?” He howled at me as I punched the gas and the car shot away from his house.
“I borrowed it. Where do you want to go today?” I asked as I rounded a corner.
“The park?” Rufus said thoughtfully, or at least as thoughtfully as he could get.
“Which park? We can go to any fucking park in the city!” I laughed. Some people on the sidewalk were staring at us.
“How about a swim in the river?”
I was tempted, really really tempted. But I couldn’t count on Rufus to keep the car clean, especially after a swim. “Think bigger.” I said.
“How about hunting up some squirrels?”
I looked over at him and grinned, “How about hunting up some ground squirrels?”
It took him a minute to figure out what I meant, he hadn’t been over to the east side in a really long time. His folks prefer to vacation at the beach after all. Slowly understanding dawned and his grin was the only answer I needed. I guided the car through the surface streets and onto I-84 east while Rufus tried to get comfortable in the bucket seats. He ended up hanging halfway out of the car with his hair whipping in the wind.
It was the middle of the day and the freeway was damn near deserted. The few cars that were headed east with us were enough to make the drive interesting, certainly not enough to slow us down. Once we got out past Troutdale the traffic disappeared and I floored it.
There are very few things I can think of that can come close to the joy we both felt with that car roaring underneath us. Really, to call it a car it to demean it. It was a … a supreme example of exquisite engineering. It was like steak, ice cream, chocolate, a precisely fluffed bed, the perfect scratch and so much more. It was everything that was good about life with nothing that was bad. It was freedom with nothing to bring us down.
And then something brought us down.
I’m not exactly sure where we passed the cop. It could have been Rooster Rock, it could have been Multnomah Falls, it could have been Hood River. But at one point I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw the lights. I couldn’t hear the siren; I could barely see the cruiser. He was trying really hard to keep up with us but he wasn’t quite up to it. I squirmed a little in my seat but didn’t say anything or slow down. I figured he was probably going to some emergency and it would be better if I didn’t slow down and get in his way.
Then Rufus said, “Oh shit.” I looked over at him; he was looking up.
I looked up and the words just burst out, “Oh shit.” Then I winced; I was starting to sound like Rufus.
There was a helicopter following us. Actually there were a lot of helicopters following us. One or two of them had to have been police helicopters, but the rest … I never knew how many of the TV stations in town had their own choppers. There were a lot of them up there; it looked like a couple of the stations had two.
Then I looked ahead of us and I almost soiled myself. Police. Lots and lots of police. I took my foot off the accelerator and the car started to slow. Rufus saw the blockade ahead of us and just started to shake. Thank God thank God thank God he didn’t totally lose control. There was no way I would have gotten out of there alive if Rufus had pissed in the car. No, instead he just sat there like a statue until the car had slowed down enough for it to be safe; then that rat bastard jumped out of the car and ran.
Eventually I stopped the car and turned off the engine. The police looked pretty confused, they didn’t seem to understand how I had driven the car all this way. One of them manhandled me into the back seat of a cruiser and took me in. That still pisses me off you know. The back seat, like I was a second-class citizen or something and didn’t deserve to be in the front. None of those assholes even read me my rights. I did see a bunch of them chasing after Rufus as the cop was carting me off. I figured they’d catch him sooner or later.

So that’s how I ended up here. They still haven’t read me my rights and I don’t think they plan to. Rufus came in a few hours after I did, pretty roughed up. His folks came and got him already but I don’t even know if mine want me back.
So here I sit, cold cement floor and chain link door: the pound. You know they say Standard Poodles are supposed to be one of the smartest breeds, you’d think I would be smart enough not to have gotten myself into a mess like this.