"Pull the car over, take the keys out of the ignition and meet me inside" the officer droned as if he'd said it a million times before.
I heard him say it a week earlier, moments before I sat down at his desk and he explained why I had failed my drivers test. "Parallel parking, you were too far from the curb. Everything else was OK."
This time he beckoned me over to his desk with a wry smile. "You know you touched the curb?". Since I did everything else right a week earlier the only thing he had me do was parallel park and I blew it. "Yes." I politely replied. Jeff was going to be pissed. We bought Patriots tickets back in August. My mother said if I got my license I could have the car for the weekend, for the Pats.
Please officer. Have a heart under that austere, Nazi looking uniform. "Well, you barely grazed it. Promise you'll practice parallel parking?". "Yes sir, officer". "Here's your temporary license. Your permanent one will come in the mail in a few weeks. Drive safely."
I picked up Jeff in front of his apartment around 1PM. Being that it was a Saturday Jeff was still drinking coffee. He was hung over. His mom yelled "Be careful bo..." from the doorway just as Jeff slammed the car door. Jeff was 18 and had graduated from high school earlier that year. He wasn't doing much with himself, mostly drinking nightly living at his mothers apartment working as a janitor at a local elementary school.
I had met Jeff five years earlier playing baseball in the neighborhood. He was a few years older than us, always had greasy hair and a mean temper. He was famous for coming up with an injury when his team was losing and for eating sugar sandwiches. Even the white trash condidered him too trashy. As we got older we would drink beer at his house because his mother would do us packies if we bought her some booze or cigarettes. None of us liked Jeff, but after weekend after weekend of drinking at his house watching the Celtics, Bruins and RedSox his idiosyncrasies seemed to fade and I came to see him as a good friend, albeit a frickin' mess.
He was a pariah in the neighborhood partly due to his eccentricities and partly self imposed. He wore flare cut jeans when everyone else was wearing straight cut. He wore big old shit kicker boots when everyone else was wearing sneakers. He wore a tattered, smelly old Wrangler jean jacket while most everyone else was wearing Barracuda style jackets in poplin or courdaroy. If you had a jean jacket it had to be Levi's, but jean jackets were for hicks or burnouts.
Jeff had dressed well for the occasion. I prepped him a week earlier by going with him to the mall. He bought some straight legged Levi's, a white button downed oxford shirt and a pair of Nike Cortez with the red swoosh. The sixty dollar investment in his wardrobe was not for me. It was for the promise of picking up some girls. I knew some girls who lived in Easton, not far from my grandmother's house in Boston, where we were going to spend the night before the Pats game. I knew Jeff's chances at scooping on some girls was almost non-existent being that he had only kissed one girl in his life and there was some question as to whether they were related. His mall makeover was more for me, because if Terri, Renee, Lisa or Shari saw me with a shit kicking, jean jacket wearing, greasy haired hick, there would be no chance of me getting on base.
As my mother's Toyota Corona station wagon eased onto I-91 south Jeff reached into his gym bag in the back seat and pulled out a couple of cans of Bud tallboys. We toasted ourselves, then the Patriots. We were already drunk on the anticipation of getting drunk, hanging out with girls and going to see the Patriots. The beers went down smoothly as we barrelled down the Mass Pike toward Boston. Jeff manned the cassette player switching back in forth between Springsteen, Journey, AC/DC and Zeppelin. He also bartended for me, while I concentrated on my driving, being a new driver and all.
As we got to Natick, just fifteen miles out side of Boston, a Camaro got on my tail. I pulled into the right lane to let him pass. I turned to Jeff asking for another tallboy and could see the Camaro driving parallel to us in a field adjacent to the Pike heading for a grove of trees. I sped up trying to give him a chance to pull back onto the Pike before crashing into the grove. Just as we got even with the grove I felt a little bump, then heard screeching brakes. As I pulled over I looked in the side view mirror. I could see the Camaro do a three sixty across the road and smash into the Jersey barrier separating the eastbound and westbound lanes. The car lurched up the barrier almost going over and landed back on all four tires.
Son of a bitch.