Wrecked (A Backward Tale of Drunken Driving)


It’s autumn 1989. How did you get here? You guessed it Soupy’s Time Machine. I think this one reads better backwards. If you disagree, think how bad it would have been the other way.

October 19. 10:32 AM
I exited my parents’ house through the garage. Joe was at the miter-saw still cutting trim for the upstairs windows. He was a real fucking trooper considering he cut off more than half of his index finger two days earlier. He was also a real fucking ballbuster.

JOE: Morning, Robert.
ME: Hey Joe.
JOE: You know what you need to get? A nerf car.
ME: Hardy-fuckin’-har.

Yea, it was kinda funny, but I was still sporting a wicked hangover from the night before (not to mention the gash just above my forehead), and just wasn’t in a laughing mood. Nor was I in the mood to go to my 11:00 class, but I didn’t really have much of a choice.

I got into my mom’s car, tossed my book bag into the passenger seat, and backed tentatively out of the driveway. Pressure welled up in my stomach as I started down the street. I had horrible gas that morning (a wonderful complement to my headache), I chuckled then tensed my ass cheeks for the optimal trumpet blast and let it fly.

ME: Fuck! Shit! No, God! God!

My voice trembled as I tried to regain control of my bowels, but it was too late. Helpless, I sat there in the middle of my parents’ street, in my mother’s car as diarrhea began to soak through my underwear and jeans.

I threw the car into reverse and backed it back to the driveway trying to figure out a way up to my room without running into wise-ass Joe.

October 19. 4:23 AM
MY DAD: Bob. Bob. The State Police just called. Get up.
ME: Huh?
MY DAD: The police called. We need to meet them at the car now.

The scene was lit like a fucking movie set. Bright lights colored with the red and blue from the police cruisers seemed to fill the entire sky. The star of the scene, a navy blue 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, sat with its crumpled front end perched on a guardrail, both front tires at least a foot off the ground. The entire windshield was shattered and pushed forward. The dull ache in my head sharpened.

TROOPER: Were you driving this vehicle, son?
ME: Yes. Yes sir.
TROOPER: Do you know it’s illegal to leave an accident scene when the vehicle is not drivable?
ME: No sir.
TROOPER: Well, considering that you are still visibly intoxicated, it’s a lucky thing you did.

He went on about how he couldn’t give me a breathalyzer now, and how I was supposed to have reported the accident in a timely fashion, and some other legal mumbo-jumbo. To be honest, I had kind of tuned him out. Then he held up a Marlboro pack, and instantly had my attention again.

TROOPER: We also found this.

He opened it revealing half a joint.

MY DAD: What’s that?
TROOPER: It’s a joint, a marijuana cigarette. It was still warm when my officer found it.

I was reminded of one of my friend’s DUI stories, where in addition to the DUI the cop also wrote him up for having “cold empties” in the vehicle. Even in my drunken state I knew he had nothing, and I wasn’t about to give him anything.

ME: I never saw it before, and certainly no one smoked it in my car (I slurred).

The trooper stared at me. I stared back. He stared better.

ME: I don’t know maybe it was Ted’s, but I definitely never saw it before now.
TROOPER: Who is Ted?

I proceeded to tell him about Ted and Pete (complete with their last names) being with me in the car.

ME: Maybe the joint was one of theirs. But I don’t really understand how it could still be warm anyway considering the car was sitting here more than two hours before you guys got here.
TROOPER: You don’t wanna get smart with me son.

October 19. 2:05 AM
I managed to get the front door open. Pete and Ted, who had finished taking leaks on the front lawn, had just driven off in Ted’s Grand Am. I stumbled up the stairs and into the bathroom, flipped on the light and was horrified by my reflection. A trail of dried blood ran out of my hairline down my forehead and stopped at my brow line. Beneath that, my eyes which had apparently been stolen and replaced with rat’s eyes, were bright red and were as painful to look at as they were to look through.

I wiped at the blood on my head with my sleeve and walked down the hall to my parents’ room.

ME: Dad. I’m home. I was in an accident. I’m okay.
MY DAD: Okay, we’ll take care of it in the morning (still sleeping).
ME: Okay.

I made it back down the hallway to my room and collapsed on my bed. There was no need to set the alarm since I had already made up my mind there was no way in hell I was going to class tomorrow.

October 18. 11:19 PM
PETE: There! Right there, Bobby. On the right.

I whipped my Caddy into Rib-It’s parking lot, barely missing a Volkswagen Sirocco that had the good fortune to be exiting as we arrived. The three of us slid out of the car and entered the bar.

PETE: This is definitely the Main Lion. I don’t know when the fuck they changed it.

(Pete said “fuck” a lot)

The combination of the loud thumping “music to snort cocaine to” (which is completely different from “music to smoke cocaine to”) and the buzz that had kicked in from all the beers at the Sixers game made it nearly impossible for me to understand a word he said. Ted returned in a few minutes with drinks: A Stoli kamikaze for me, a double Dewar’s with a splash for Pete, and a Bombay Sapphire gibson for himself. A few minutes later a cocktail waitress sashayed by and I bought us another round, then Pete followed suit.

I guess it was around midnight when we made our way up to the bar where a few seats had opened up. We ordered a pitcher of Alabama Slammer shots, then another. The people on either side of us were drawn in by our bad example and started ordering shots of their own, and for the next hour or so our whole side of the bar was slamming Slammers in unison.

ME: Okay, that’s enough for me. Those things are way too sweet. I don’t need a hangover tomorrow.

Ted got the bartender’s attention and ordered another martini. I ordered one as well.

ME: I don’t think I ever drank gin before.
TED: You’re going to love this then. Sapphire’s a real treat.

I took three quick gulps and the treat was gone. As I returned the glass to the bar, I heard a series of loud cracks behind me. We turned to see Pete and some guy re-enacting the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Obiwan Kenobi with pool cues (The circle is complete Obiwan, when I left you I was the learner. Now I am the master). No sooner had we noticed them than two of the bouncers descended on the “fight” and stripped the two of their weapons. Ted grabbed Pete and the three of us departed the Rib-it

We crawled into the car. Ted had shotgun and Pete sat directly behind me.

PETE: Now where?

Ted and I ignored him, and I pulled out onto Lancaster Avenue heading for home. In about fifteen minutes I reached Whitehall Road, I was finally in my comfort zone. I was a good drunk driver, but I certainly felt more confident the closer I got to home.

ME: Damn, it’s really foggy.
PETE: You’re fucking foggy.
ME: Look out the windshield, Pete.

I flipped on my high-beams which were effectively reflected back at us, visibility was maybe a foot (That’s fucking foggy, prick). I set the cruise for 35 mph, and just concentrated on keeping it between the lines.

I was cruising right along, and then suddenly I wasn’t. The taste of metal filled my mouth; the smell of it filled my nose.

PETE: Jesus Christ Bobby, what the hell did you hit?

He was balled up on the back floor after his two hundred pounds slammed into the back of my seat propelling me into the windshield. I tried to straighten up but my seat was stuck Pete got up off the floor and pulled my seat back. I looked over at Ted who was rubbing his head, but seemed okay. We got out to inspect the damage. It took me a moment to get my legs back, and just a bit longer to realize where I was. I had completely missed the nearly ninety degree curve in the road and crashed head-on into the guardrail.

PETE: Holy shit Bobby, it’s like a thirty foot drop on the other side of this guardrail. Jesus Christ, what the fuck happened?
ME: I told you, it’s fucking foggy out, I didn’t see the curve.
PETE: How did you not see–
TED: –What we need to do is get us and this goddamn car the hell out of here.

I climbed back in the car and tried to reverse it back onto the road. It was no use. Headlights approached from around the bend and the three of us spread out across the road stopping the oncoming car. Before the girl driving could say a word, the three of us were in her car and she was driving us to my parents’ house. To this day, I have no idea who she was or what she looked like.

October 18. 10:44 PM
ME: Quarter of.

October 18. 10:42 PM
Somehow, we ended up on Lancaster Avenue. I ‘m not exactly sure how it happened, ten minutes earlier we were on the expressway headed back toward home, and now we weren’t.

PETE: Where the fuck are we? We should go to the Main Lion. What time is it?

October 18. 6:44 PM
I was out in my driveway cleaning out my car when Ted “the Head” and Pete pulled up in Ted’s Pontiac. I had been looking forward to going to the Sixers’ game all day.

TED: You want me to drive?
ME: No it’s cool, I’ll drive. I just finished cleaning out my car.

They piled into the Caddy and we started down the street.

TED: You got the tickets.
ME: Yep.
TED: You got any herb?
ME: No. I had like half a joint in a cigarette pack that I thought was under the seat, but I haven’t been able to find it. I’ve been looking all goddamn day.
TED: Oh well, I guess we’re gonna have to just drink more then.

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