Bright Lights, Dark Nights

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A family of 3 go out on a roadtrip to visit their grandmother and they walk away with more on their platter than they could handle.

Submitted: November 08, 2011

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Submitted: November 08, 2011

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“Andre McNeil, hurry up and get down here!” I yelled while standing on the first step of the staircase. This kid never understands deadlines, I just can't imagine him in the real world if he doesn't change. He yelled back with a stern “NO!” and continued to add “I'm not coming to grandma's house , she's always too drunk to remember who I am. What's the point?!”. I attempted to prove his point wrong with an obnoxious sigh followed by a demand. “ANDRE, your grandmother wants to see you, now quit complaining and hurry up. I'm going to be in the car.”. I hate when he gets like this. Why can't he just listen to me for once? Gosh.

I hopped into the driver's seat and closed the door behind me. My cellphone's auto notification system came into action and exclaimed “Johnathon McNeil, you have 1 new message in your inbox.”. I hated that thing, it never learned how to properly say my name, plus it's probably something at work. This is my day off with the kids and I'm not going into work to ruin that. It was too cold to stay outside for longer than a few minutes. It never used to get this cold in California. The past few years have been an awfully different story though. We've gotten blizzards left and right, wind chills reaching bone chilling temperatures and extremely icy roads. Mid-thought I remembered that the car wasn't moving, thanks to Andre. “Where in the world is this kid?!” I frustratingly stated as I pounded my fists against the already wobbly steering wheel. In my rage, I hadn't noticed the moving object in the rear view mirror. I turn to see my daughter dressing up her little dolls . I had completely forgotten she was here through my whole fiasco. “Everything good back there Bre?” I asked, trying to not bring up what had just happened. Her birth name was actually Sabrina Rae but we've been calling her Bre since before her mother passed away. “Ay-Okay Daddy!” she said with a big smile on her face. I hadn't heard that expression since I was a kid 'back in the days of the dinosaurs'! That's probably because I'm always in my little cubicle and have practically no social life. She definitely knew how to get a chuckle out of me though. As my laugh trailed off, Andre hopped into the passenger's seat of the car. The fury in his eyes was just like a predator getting a good view of its prey. I was his prey.

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“Come on Joshua, have another shot!” I heard in the distance. I was already hammered and felt like passing out, but what the heck, there's nothing to lose! I felt the sudden sting in my throat as I guzzled down another shot. I'd already lost count of how many I'd taken and I've only been here for an hour. As I put down the shot glass I exclaimed “It's Labor Day weekend, get more drinks!”. I could hear some whispering beyond my reach but all I could make out is “He's going to be dead before he's 30.”. Oh my, that would be some sort of miracle for me, it would rid me of all my problems, nobody would depend on me, I could-. I stopped myself from continuing to travel on this train of thought. I started pacing from one wall to the other. It was so bright, my eyes were struggling to stay open with the amount of light in here. I just needed another drink. I promised myself this would be the last for the night. I tried to make it seem like I still wanted to party by asking everyone “Where are all the drinks?!”. In reality, I was here for the booze, the party was just an excuse for me to get closer to the booze, nothing else. “Whiskey, that'll do.” I whispered to myself. I could barely pour myself a glass from how much my hand was shaking. As the sting traveled through my veins, I could feel my problems slowly drowning deep down into the past. This was a glass of Whiskey no more. This was a glass of renewed happiness.

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We'd been in the car for about 35 minutes when I noticed not one word was spoken as of yet. This was silence at its best. Why couldn't it be this silent when I was trying to sleep instead of now? I didn't even know how to break the silence until the car of all things came up with an idea of its own. Something under the hood was wheezing like a runner after a marathon. Great, this is EXACTLY what we need after all the time spent waiting at home. I pulled the car over in the gas station and I could already see Andre shaking his head from the corner of my eye with a grin of disbelief on his face. “What's so funny, Andre?” I asked in a rather serious tone. He quickly fired back and stated “This car is a piece of junk!”. I didn't want to directly agree with his statement but I knew it was true so I just let the conversation end there.

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Man, I better leave this party before I really get too wasted. As I was about to close the car door behind me I heard someone who was rather sober compared to everyone else tell me to stop the car, “We'll get you a cab instead!” were her exact words. I thought to myself, if they get me a cab, I have to pay. I'd rather save those $80 dollars and buy myself more booze. Now that's money well spent. So as she turned around to get a cellphone to call a cab, I pulled out of the driveway. “No one will care about me enough to come after me anyways.” I murmured to myself. I was right, my own so called “friends” left me on the street in a car while I could barely stay awake. The bad thoughts are coming back, I better get more booze, at least I'll make this night worthwhile. I pulled into the first liquor store I could find and bought myself anything that was strong enough to do me harm. I picked up 2 bottles of Jack Daniels, a bottle of Bacardi and a 6 pack of beer. There is the $80 well spent, I patted myself on the back for a good buy. I hopped back into the car and sat down on my worn out drivers seat. I downed all the liquor in about 10 minutes. It's not my record by any means, but it sure patched up the bad thoughts nicely. I was back on my way to possibly killing myself tonight and for some reason, it happened to be something that I didn't mind looking forward to.

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Tow truck drivers are awfully expensive. They charged me $140 for a new battery and I doubt that was even the issue to begin with, they just need an excuse to make their precious money. At least we were back on the road, let's just hope nothing else happens tonight. “Anybody want the radio on?” I asked as a way to break the awful silence between everyone. Andre quickly put his iPod headphones in to avoid anything to do with the family, as always. Bre suggested to turn on some Justin Bieber so she could sing her heart out. I didn't agree with her choice of artist but anything to get some energy in this car was fine with me. We got to about the 4th song on the album and I was just about ready to shred the dang CD. Just as we were exiting the city of San Francisco it started to snow. Snow in 2013 meant really icy roads and for some reason I had a feeling that this was going to be one very unsafe drive up to Willows. Through snow, rain, shine or sunshine we would still travel to see grandma. We've gone through too much today to just turn back and give up on the journey to get there. We continued through the windy roads of the county, hills would lead the car up and down, giving it a little push to each side as we caught a bit of ice. Bre had fallen asleep, thank goodness or she would be screaming everytime the car moved one inch to the side.

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I slowly sensed the car swerving a bit as I was losing consciousness. My yawns were becoming too much to handle. My feet were becoming numb and I could barely see where I was going. It was too dark to see anything. Mix that with the dizziness from all of the alcohol I had and you have yourself death served on a platter.

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As I slowly proceeded through a street I noticed a car coming our way with what looked like no intention to stop. I quickly honked the horn as the car peered closer and closer to the right side of the car. I pulled Andre onto my side of the car to get him out of harm. As I reached back to try and get a hold of Bre all I could see in the night sky were lights crawling into our window as if they were there on cue. I screamed for Andre to help me pick his sister up but as we both reached helplessly to save our little angel we heard the ear-wrenching grinding of metal rubbing against metal and my neck suddenly struck against the headrest.

My eyes slowly cracked open; “Where am I?!” I frantically asked. Whoa, that was all a nightmare I told myself, followed by a sigh of relief. I could hear the whining of some sort of sirens and I could sense that I was in a vehicle that was moving quite rapidly. A man just above me said “My name is Robert and this is Julie, we are paramedics and you are in the back of an ambulance. We're on our way to the hospital. Stay calm, sir.”. My stomach suddenly felt queasy. My mind was all over the place like it was in the middle of a game of 52 pickup. This was real. This just happened to me. But, it couldn't have, I could have sworn it was a nightmare. I analyzed the IV that I was hooked on and the wires that were all over the place. My face felt very bare, like it was missing something. I had this immense amount of heat surrounding my body like I had been in a tanning bed for days. “Why is it so hot in here?” I asked the female paramedic. I think her name was Judy, Julie. Whatever. She responded by stating “You suffered multiple 1st and 2nd degree burns all over your legs, arms and your face.”. Now I knew why my face felt bare, I must have lost at least a couple of layers of skin while all of that occurred. As I reached to feel my face I quickly came to the realization that Bre and Andre weren't in the ambulance with me. I clearly remember them being in the car with me, that is, if this is not some sort of nightmare. Robert could see that I was searching for something and he asked “Your children?”. I tried to nod my head but the burns were just too much to bare. I quietly mumbled “Yes.”. I could tell by the look in his eyes that no good news were about to be revealed to me. “Unfortunately your daughter was found deceased when we arrived at the scene. Your son is in critical condition and is being rushed to another hospital across town. I'm sorry for your loss, sir. You are in good hands.”. I couldn't even think straight. This had to be a nightmare. This can't happen at once, not to me. I did nothing wrong to deserve this. I closed my eyes just waiting for myself to wake up in my bed with an intense amount of perspiration dripping off of me. I opened my eyes still wishing but I was still there in that ambulance with the dimmed lights.

By the time we had arrived at the hospital I was still in a massive amount of shock as to what happened but the first thing I wanted to do was visit my son. I wouldn't be able to do that until I was in stable condition as he was being treated in another hospital. As the doctors wheeled me in to the operating room I had realized that I never even got a chance to say goodbye to my baby girl. I just hope that she is looking down at us and wishing us the best because I really didn't know what else to do. As the doctor put the mask full of sleeping gas over my mouth I suddenly began to see the light becoming brighter and there was a reflection of each person, as they had a twin standing beside them. My eyes became too heavy and closed shut.

I had awaken after what seemed like 5 minutes in utter pain, but what else was I to expect after coming out of a operation. The nurse was standing over my bed checking if my IV dose was flowing properly. I asked her how long I had been asleep for and she said “Just about 13 hours, mate.”. I could tell she was Australian by the way she said mate. As she was about to leave the room she asked me if I needed anything from her . The only thing that came in mind was Andre. “Can I please see the doctor?” I said while clenching my face in pain. The doctor arrived in just under a minute. “Yes, Johnathan is there anything I can do for you?” he said with his deep voice. “How is my son doing?” I tried to say without being in pain. “It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that your son Andre has passed away from the degree of his injuries. My condolences go out to you and your family.” What family? Whoever did this just took my WHOLE family away from me. I was so enraged that I just had to ask how this happened. The doctor explained that the incident was an apparent driver under the influence. He also explained that a trial date was already set for the suspect to take part in once he was released from the hospital. The police officer had told the doctor to tell me that I was able to press charges and if so I would have to be a part of the trial as well. I certainly agreed to press charges on the ignorant little cold-hearted human being who could possibly do this to my babies.

After being in the hospital for a month and 3 days I was healthy enough to be released to take part in the trial for the brutal accident that had occurred. As I walked into the courtroom, I was anxious to see the face of the person who had the guts to do what he did but HE was the one who survived all of this, not my children. As the defendant's lawyer proceeded to lead the way for his client, the door was pushed open by a scrawny looking teenager. They must have gotten it all wrong, this 'kid' wasn't capable of doing all of this. Before I had the chance to question who the suspect was in my mind the judge entered the courtroom and ordered silence. Everyone took their seat and were interested in what was going to unfold with the case. Both the defendant's lawyer and my lawyer had a chance to speak about what had occurred that night from their client's point of view. The judge went into a deliberation with the rest of his colleagues for about 20 minutes. He then returned to his seat at the head of the courtroom and I was anxiously awaiting justice to be served to this killer. The judge summarized what had happened that night and then continued to say “In the case of Bakersfield and McNeil, Bakersfield has been found guilty on three counts of Driving While Intoxicated, two counts of Manslaughter and four counts of Reckless Driving. The defendant is sentenced to 21 years in prison with no chance of parole.”. Although my children are gone and they won't ever come back, at least this is some closure for them and for I as I will keep them in my hearts forever and their killer won't roam the streets to be able to do this to someone else.


© Copyright 2017 Anthony La Corte. All rights reserved.

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