“Ed’s Car” by Tara Peck
Ed’s car, an ancient, rust-brown Corolla, sped uneasily down the road. The cacophony of sad noises coming from the engine sounded like it was falling apart; he imagined pieces of it flying off, leaving a bread trail of metal behind him. The thought was unnerving
The inside of the car was equally as unpleasant. A trash heap of McDonald’s paper bags, sweet tea cups, receipts, and discarded candy bar wrappers overflowed from the back seat to the front, even filling the door pockets and foot wells. His wife always nagged about his sloppiness. God, I’m SO sick of picking up your socks in the family room. Put ‘em in the hamper, she would say.
Ed was sick of being surrounded by women. He had grown up with two sisters and an abusive, controlling mother. She would often come home late, angry and irritated, after spending twelve hours at the coat factory, hand-sewing on buttons. Ed would provoke his mother, and suffer through the beating, just so his sisters would avoid a similar fate. Now, he had to contend with his wife’s constant nit-picking and teenage daughter’s unruly behavior.
Ed reluctantly looked down at the illuminated fuel gauge and saw how close the line was to E. He started banging on the steering wheel and yelling “come on!” through gritted teeth. He didn’t want to stop at a gas station.
He was calculating how many miles he had left to go, when a state trooper’s resounding siren came from behind. Ed cursed whatever god or gods he believed in, and pulled over to the shoulder. The cop slowly walked to the Corolla and, upon reaching the door, shined a flashlight on Ed’s sweaty face. Ed rolled down the window and greeted the cop with a haughty grin.
“I clocked you at 77 in a 65. Why are you in such a hurry?”
“I’m sorry, officer, I wasn’t paying attention.” Ed took note of how young the cop was.
The officer panned his flashlight from the passenger seat to the back window, seeing the mess inside.
“Do you mind if I search your vehicle?”
“Yes, I do mind.”
The officer reached for the radio by his side, but stopped when he heard the pounding coming from the trunk. He met Ed’s eyes for one brief second before grabbing at the radio again, and Ed impulsively slapped the cop’s hand away. It was at this moment that Ed decided he was not going to jail tonight. He reached through the open window and grasped the cop’s collar, pulling him closer to the door.
“What do you think you’re doing?” The cop yelled in disbelief while fumbling for the gun in his belt.
Ed locked his right hand around the cop’s throat, wanting to choke the life from him. The officer had interrupted an important plan that he had been pondering for years, and Ed would make him pay. He squeezed until he heard the crunch of the officer’s windpipe, and immediately let go. The cop fell to the ground. Ed could hear him breathing harshly; he was still alive, but barely. He got out of his car, and looked around to make sure he didn’t see any other vehicles. Luckily, he was on a back road where few traveled, except for locals. Ed had arranged his scheme well.
He walked around to the back of his car, and opened the trunk. Inside was a woman with steel grey hair, face folded in wrinkles, wearing a pale blue nightgown and slippers. Her arms were covered with purple bruises and her head was slightly bleeding.
“You sumbitch – I’m gonna kill you -” She spat and tried to climb out of the trunk.
Ed gave his mother a punch to the ribs and she crumpled over on her side. He pushed her to the very back of the trunk; he had to make room. He went back to the cop, hoisted him up under the shoulders and dragged him across the ground. Ed struggled for a few seconds but managed to lift him into the trunk, and slammed it shut.
He got back in his car, started the engine, and continued down