All Along the Watchtower

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Set in the 70's, three teenagers are supposed to take a short ride home after a garage party, but a few beers will change their life's forever. A story of trial and death, will a young teen be able to face her deeds?

Submitted: September 28, 2014

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Submitted: September 28, 2014

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All Along the Watchtower

By Sara Morse

 

I cruised around town in my 1976 Gremlin while Led Zeppelin blasted through my tiny car speakers. I signaled left to turn onto Main St. while All Along the Watchtower by Jimmy Hendrix came on the radio.

I drove down the street with my best friend, Debby, in the passenger seat. We’d been best friends since third grade, and here we were, just four weeks away from graduation. Debby was the definition of perfect. She was tall and skinny with beautiful straight long hair. She was an artist, and we all knew she was going places in life. She would even sew patches onto her jeans, just because she was so stylish. Not only was she the envy of the school, but she was also extremely bright. A lethal combination.

In the back seat, sat a good friend of ours, Brody. He had thick wide glasses and curly brown hair. He wanted to grow it out but his mom always made him cut if off. Brody was legendary at our school for stealing concert merchandise, with quite the collection of band t-shirts. He was your typical high-schooler, he liked music, girls, and pot. That was about all.

Regardless, any of them would have had a bright future. Or a future at least.

I’m not sure what I was thinking, and in fact, I wasn’t. We were coming from a garage party, and I’ll admit that I had some beer. But ostensibly, three Budweiser’s wouldn’t affect me.

My small car flew down the long, winding back road. Debby had to be home at 1:00 and it was already 1:30. I disregarded all traffic signs and blew past anything that instructed me to stop. I watched my speedometer slowly creep up. 80…84…89…95… And there it was! 100 miles per hour! The rail road tracks at the bottom of the valley quickly approached.

 

Brody called out, “Hey, I think I hear a train coming, ya might wanna stop up here.”

I told him it would be fine, and proceeded with my rapid decline.

He calmly replied, “Ha, I’m serious!” as he let out a small chuckle.

Debby pulled out a cigarette while we raced down the hill faster and faster. It was just then that I noticed Brody was right. There was a train coming.  Off in the distance I could see the mass of metal moving quickly through the trees. But in my mild state of intoxication, I continued. The bright headlight of the train blinded me as I glanced to the right. In an attempt to beat the giant cast iron beast, I sped up. Faster! Faster! Faster!

The moment my front wheels touched the track, the train collided with my car. It seemed to happen it slow motion. As if at some point I had locked eyes with this inanimate object, thinking for sure that it would be the cause of my demise. But somehow, it ejected me out the driver’s side window, firmly planting me onto the cold, damp, earth.

Smoke. Smoke everywhere. The metal was piled up, in what seemed like strategic little piles placed on the asphalt road. What used to be an automobile now resembled tin foil. and I can’t even explain what noise I heard. Good god it was horrifying. Muffled screams on top of metal bending, crunching, and scraping together. That god damned noise will haunt me for the rest of my life. And with that, I was out cold.

 

I awoke what felt like days later, but couldn’t have been more than a few hours. There was a middle-aged couple over me. The woman was stroking my hair and anxiously ordered her husband, “Go for help now, don’t worry I’ll be here, okay?”

I didn’t hear the man’s response, but somehow sensed his presence near me.

Slowly, I opened my eyes again and focused them on what was left of my car. Dark red blood streamed out of the bottom of the barely distinguishable door. “Jesus Christ.” I quietly mumbled. The car was wedged between the post of the warning gate that never went down, and the path where the train had previously passed. And I knew inside of that car, were my two best friends. Mercilessly crushed to death.

Width wise, my car was crushed down to about 1/10th of its original size. Pink and red slime oozed out of the crushed metal. The hood was completely warn away, and slightly singed from the sparks of the train.

The rest of the night was a blur. I was completely covered in bruises, a plethora of broken bones, and one hell of a concussion. I remember a few faint words of my parents, who mumbled my name or the occasional, “stay strong honey.” as I laid helpless in a hospital bed. I also remember crying about my dead friends, but most of all, I remember the sound of that damned metal. That sound, playing over and over again in my head like a cursed carnival ride.

I was out of school for the rest of that week, but upon my return, all I heard were the hushed whispers of, “Yah that’s the one.” or “What was she thinking?” or the occasional, “Rot in hell.” followed by a spit at my feet. My classmates despised me, and my teachers couldn’t look me in the eye.

 

Fast forward three weeks, the night after I hobbled down in front of all my peers to accept my diploma at graduation. I was at my house resting on my couch when I heard a knock at the front door. I quickly got up to answer it. “Are you Annie Oberlander?”

“Yes sir.” I replied timidly.

“You’ve been served.” the man said blandly, as he handed me a stack of papers and walked down the driveway.

I read the papers silently.

“The parents of Deborah Jo Carpenter and Brody James Chairiotti hereby summon and request the presence of Annie Skylar Oberlander to appear in court as the defendant on July 12th. The plaintiffs are suing on the grounds of: vehicular manslaughter.”

The next month seemed to fly by, and I was dreading everyday leading up to my appearance in court. Instead of preparing for college, I found myself preparing for court, or worse… jail.

I walked into that court room with my head held high. But inside I as nervous, terrified, threatened, and my heart was beating right out of my chest.

I thought back to that day while they asked me questions, all of which I was prepared to answer. Until the final question: “Ms. Oberlander, were you drinking and driving the night of the accident?” Did they think I was a fool? Did they think I was going to incriminate myself even more? I knew damn well they had taken a blood test the night when I was in the hospital. Of course they knew the answer to the question. I fought every urge to utter a measly “no”. But that word wouldn’t come out. All that played through my head was that crunching metal, muffled screams, and the sound of dripping blood. And at last, that damned song, All Along the Watchtower. Curse that evil song, and damn to hell that entire night.

 

I stood up to admit my deed. I placed my hand on the table and firmly stated, “Yes, I was drinking and driving that night.”

And that was it. I was convicted of two counts of vehicular manslaughter for 8 years at only 18 years old.

I got in the van to what the judge called, “my new home”. The driver was an older woman with a multitude of tattoos and ratty hair. She had the radio on at a low level. As soon as we pulled out all I heard playing through the speakers was, “There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief…”

That’s all. That’s all that happened. One night ruined my entire life. I’m on my fourth year of my sentence as I write this. Sometimes at night when it’s quiet, I can still hear that crushed metal and the faint screams of my friends as they were crushed to death.

And the irony is, that now my life is spent… All Along the Watchtower.


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