The phone starts ringing about 6:45 and in the days before caller I.D. you were forced to pick up the line. It was early enough and I couldn’t figure out who would be calling. It’s Jeff telling me to get my ass moving because he didn’t want to be late to take our S.A.T.s. Why didn’t my alarm go off? You’d think I’d have made double sure to set it before climbing into bed, but I guess not. My mind on its typical Friday night routine where my teenage body wants to sleep until Sunday.
I’m in and out of the shower in record time and throwing on a sweater over the jeans and t-shirt. Hopefully finding my shoes near the door as I prepare to sprint the four houses over to Jeff’s parent’s place. Shoes in hand, socks slightly damp, I’m rushing across the backyards hoping that the neighbors don;t get bent out of shape by my passing their windows!
Jeff has his grandmother’s 1978 Mercury Monarch. A car so big we once slept in it overnight when we were camping! The best part of this car was the huge engine that just ripped up the miles, and the air conditioning actually still functioned. We didn’t need it that fall morning. The sun was just climbing over the hills and we were racing inside a valley. Doing 50-60 miles an hour in a place where at best you should be doing half that speed!
We round this corner and the rear tire just jumps a little bit. It’s morning, a country road, oh we might have just hit a squirrel, possibly a groundhog. But as we look in the mirrors and I’m craning my neck backwards, all I see is this little mound of black fur.
“Oh shit Jeff, we hit someone’s cat!”
“No way Lary, we just need to keep going. We’ll drive back this way after the exam!”
Off we went, pondering if we might have to explain to some kid why we were speeding and now potential feline assassins. Into the building, sort of laughing it off. That;s what teenage boys do, but both of us dreading going back.
The exam is now over and we contemplate just heading in another direction. Someplace that would take us around our crime scene. But we think better of it, both needing to know the answer. So driving really within the boundaries of the speed limit. Hoping no one recognizes the car from earlier, we creep up to the intersection. Laying there on the side of the road is this mount of black fur. Slowly moving closer, grabbing a stick to poke at our fresh roadkill; the family across the way is leaving in their minivan. All of a sudden the daughter jumps out the door and comes running towards us.
Panic on our faces, there’s no place to hide. The car has license plates, what do we do? This girl, all of about 7, rushes past us and scoops up the remains.
“Daddy, I found Mr. Fuzzy! I thought I lost him forever!”
Mr. Fuzzy? Not a cat? Jeff and I look at each other and slowly shuffle back to the car. Just two kids who might have lost something out the window, no longer the pet killers we thought we were. The little girl’s father says something as they pass “Thought you killed someone’s pet? Maybe you kids should slow down, too many fast drivers on this road!”
All I know is we grabbed some food, joked about how the day had begun, how the test had gone. I know I did well, I also know he did a little better!