© Kristi Stokes
Nick had considered himself a lucky guy, until now. He surveyed the scene around him from the front seat of his car. Smoke poured from the hood. The other car was crunched against the front of his own from the head-on collision. The guy in that car looked like he couldn't be more than sixteen, which would explain why he'd tried to make that left turn with so little space between him and Nick.
The sound of sirens filled the air, and Nick knew that it was only a matter of moments before the police showed up along with the ambulances. Of all the days. He didn't normally drink, but that promotion was so good this week. He just had to go out and celebrate with Lucy. An image of his new fiancé taking a drink, and then tilting her blond head back in laughter, came to his mind unbidden. He smiled at it, despite the pain in his neck and shoulder.
His hand moved absently to his head and touched the back where it had slammed into the head rest. That head rest wasn't as soft as he thought. He rubbed the spot knowing a headache would soon follow.
He undid his seat belt and tried to open the door. It wouldn't move. He started to panic, and then checked the locks. His heart rate moved back down as he realized the door was locked.
Outside of the car, the smell of burnt rubber assaulted his senses. The sounds were much louder here, too. People honked and passed the scene by. Others yelled out their windows as they rubber necked. The sound of the sirens grew closer.
Nick moved toward the driver of the other car. What had that boy been thinking? The shock of the accident was wearing off now. His anger was bubbling instead. He didn't want the police involved. He didn't want them fining him or taking his car for having alcohol in his system. He didn't want to go to jail for the night.
The next hour was a blur of fighting and shouting, of police and breathalyzer tests. Nick must have been drunker than he thought because before he knew it, he was being booked and placed in a holding cell with some other rough-looking men at the downtown police station. This was just great. It wasn't exactly the way he envisioned his evening playing out. He wanted to be home, inviting Lucy over for a quiet dinner at home, maybe even watching a movie together.
A guy with the name “Violet” tattooed on his arm approached dashing the images of Lucy and his comfortable house. The man's head was shaved and his expression was irritated. He wasn't the kind of guy Nick would ever even approach let alone associate with. He shifted uncomfortably on the hard wooden bench and tried to focus his attention elsewhere. He looked at the small barred window in the back of the cell. Maybe if he didn't make eye contact…
“Hey,” the guy said and sat a little too close to Nick on the bench.
Nick hesitated, and then looked up at the man. He tried to smile but he was sure it looked more like a grimace. Gripping his hands together, he forced the smile to look more relaxed for a split second before blinking and looking back at the ground.
The man didn't take the hint. “Why you here?”
“Drunk driving,” he mumbled without looking up.
The silence between them stretched on until Nick felt Violet tattoo's eyes on him. He looked up in time to see the man's fist headed straight for his head.
He shifted and stood, avoiding the punch. “What the-”
Violet tattoo threw another punch, hitting him square in the jaw. Nick fell to the cement floor in pain. Other men gathered around them, intrigued by the scene. The cell grew louder as the man pounded on Nick. He heard him mumbling something about his mother and a drunk driver, an accident and a hospital. He didn't understand it all. The chaos around him was too much.
Some officers heard the noise and came in. “Hey! Calm down in here!”
“Do I need to get a tazer?” another said.
There was the sound of the jingling of keys, and then Violet tattoo got off and backed up, never turning away from Nick.
“We're cool,” Violet said and glared.
They definitely weren't cool, and Nick couldn't imagine spending the entire night here. He wanted out of here.
“Hey,” Nick called to one of the officers. “Can I call my girlfriend?”
The officer with the jingling keys approached, nodding. “You've got five minutes.”
Nick breathed a sigh of relief, thankful to be out of there even if only for a short moment. But the phone call didn't go well, and in the end, Lucy was almost as angry with him as Violet. She said that she should have driven him home and that he was irresponsible. Nick tried to convince her that it was the kid's fault but she accused him of being drunk. It was all him.
He shuffled back to the cell with the officer and was locked inside again. He turned slowly, dreading the looks he was sure he'd see.
And he was right. There were no friendly faces behind him, only hostile ones. No one wanted him there, and they weren't going to let him forget it. He sat on the cold cement with his back to the wall as far from the men as possible. This was gonna be a long night. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, sure to keep his other senses fully aware of the surroundings. Some luck.