On Saturday night we were almost killed.
Alright maybe not... but we had very good reflexes. Either way, I spent many minutes afterwards mumbling into my voice recorder, reflecting upon every way in which flesh and metal could connect uncomfortably.
It was the white Impala hidden in a thick mist of disinterest at the end of the alleyway that was responsible for everything. About 40 - 60 people had overflowed from the house party into the street. They had formed circles, little conversational organisms, and they spoke to one another with various levels of agitation and drunkenness.
A puppy darted over and around feet in a terrified indecisiveness, overstimulated by pounding music and simultaneously attracted and repelled to the vibrant intensity of strangers and strange scents. Cigarettes, bottles of Coors Light, and martini glasses with color liquid flickered through the crowd; the clinks and chatter rising just above the city noise with which they had been subconsciously competing.
The roar of a growling engine ended the competition. A pair of headlights sliced through the night and were granted full attention. The white car burst through the crowd rudely, snatching the center stage with it's absolute unflinching antagonism and pathological rate of acceleration.
Bodies dived out of the way, a guy narrowly avoided getting hit while scooping up his dog, the crowd parted like rain, and immediately after the car passed, having temporarily regained its polarity, yelled a collective "What the fuck!!!"
And then the driver shifted into reverse.
This is the time when your brain starts imagining things for you. The hard metal frame intersecting with your torso and spreading your body onto a brick wall, every bone collapsing in on itself and the world spiraling into a black hole of lost consciousness. The shadow on a wall getting larger and larger until it becomes a disfigured giant, towering above you. Blood flowing through the cracks of a car window, running down the fractured pattern and collecting with tiny white shards in the gutter. Yes, your brain can imagine all of this in a fraction of a second.
The car backed up, hit a girl, and reversed down the alley way, followed by a dozen angry hipsters and glass beer bottles.
Suddenly we'd been sucked into the main story of an "action news at 11" broadcast. The kind of story that almost always ends badly and leaves you with no choice but to conclude that some people are just dangerous and evil and you should probably just stay inside, away from windows.
When the car reached it's starting point, it squealed forward again. A hail of glass projectiles smashed into windshield and the car swerved in tight intentional movements, determined to hit whomever dared take a step near its wrathful delirium.
Broken unconscious bodies rolling over cracked windshields, legs sucked underneath the front of the car. Caution tape. Ambulance lights. Figures hunched over on the sidewalk, faces concealed behind shaking hands. The mind was at work again, concocting gruesome new endings for the night's broadcast.
But the car made it to the end of the alley without hitting anyone, and this time, floated around the corner. Vanished back into the outside world. The girl who'd been hit limped inside. The crowd was in shock. Some anonymous individual had attempted to violate one of the basic rules of humanity: Thou shall not kill without rhyme or reason. It was just like action news. Another depressing story implying that fear is the only logical reaction to life.
Fortunately, that's not how it ended.
As we stared off to where the car had exited, a cop car blew by.
Now, growing up in Connecticut I've always seen police as a force whose sole purpose was to harass and oppress me, but that night, I felt a warm glow of satisfaction run up my spine. Forget the action news ending. This is not a story about evil strangers who try to kill random people. This is a story about someone doing something genuinely, unquestionably wrong, and then being caught and punished for it, quickly and effectively. Hooray for humanity.
Okay, yeah, it does bring up troubling implications about the nature of humanity, with questions that can only be answered by the man who tried to commit vehicular homicide. But do I look like a fucking journalist? Fuck that, this story is as tied up as it's going to be. Be glad I'm not leaving you with some generic warning to stay inside away from windows.
Be safe, and if not, you'll at least get a good story out of it.