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|Posted||06.18.04 03:03:50 PM|
|If anybody sees a mistake I've made, or if anything sucks, please tell me.
Also, the name Madame Bouvoir is gonna change. I thought Bouvoir sounded cool at first, but it just sounds retarded. Any suggestions? I'd be glad to hear them. Anyway...
“You will be shot and killed by your best friend on your 30th birthday,” the fortune-teller had told him.
Brian King gripped the wheel of his car. Brian was a slightly overweight man with already thinning brown hair, though he was only 30. He was not always so, however. When he was 17 years old, Brian had it all. He was a good-looking teenager who was eligible for athletic scholarships for both track and football. Brian was also the unreachable dream of every girl in school because he preferred the company of his friends, who were always by his side, than that of a girl, who came and went like the wind. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t interested in girls, but he got himself involved in too many bad relationships with them, none of which lasted long at all. Knowing this, he always opted to be with his friends, most of whom he had known since 1st grade, every Saturday night as opposed to the newest woman to flirt with him.
It was on one of those Saturday nights in their senior year that his life changed forever. For a laugh, Brian and his friends decided to go see a fortune-teller. Aside from him, the other members of their group (who were almost as close as brothers) were Ricky, Johnny, Jimmy, and Travis. Ricky was the jokester of the group who always had to get the last word in and make his opinion known, whether or not it caused people to laugh or just look at him funny. He was built very nicely and was athletic, but not as much as Brian, and had short dark hair and brown eyes. Johnny and Jimmy were identical twins: both were thin, tow-headed, blue-eyed, and shy around new people. Travis had a complete disregard for most rule set by adults, but he had a heart of gold and loved his friends as much as anyone. His long brown hair, wild eyes, bushy eyebrows, and sideburns gave him the distinctive look of somebody who was untrustworthy, and yet he was also the kindest and most loyal person of the group. Once they got to the fortune-teller’s, all five of them immediately labeled her as an old and eccentric bat. Madam Bouvoir, as she called herself, was a bespectacled, thin, older woman draped in long lavender robes. The ornate wooden table that the 6 of them sat around was adorned with a swirling crystal ball. Whenever he looked back upon that day, Brian could recall every detail, even the distinctive aroma of the room.
After 5 minutes of palm reading, the group become irritated and decided to leave. The fortune-teller had made the outrageous prediction that Travis’ mother, who was a chain-smoking high school dropout who slept around, would go to nursing school to make more money and be a better mother to Travis. As the boys were walking out, the fortune-teller unexpectedly grabbed Ricky’s wrist.
“There will be an accident if you go drinking next Friday night,” she told him gravely. He smacked her hand away, told her to go to hell, and they walked out.
Next Friday, on the night that the fortune-teller predicted Ricky’s accident, Ricky’s parents left for a romantic weekend in the mountains. It seemed to work out for both sides, because while Ricky’s parents were enjoying time alone with each other Ricky’s uncle brought over a keg of beer. Ricky invited Brian, Johnny, Jimmy, Travis, and a few of their other friends over to his house for a party. Everybody who was invited came (word spread around the school, and even a few who weren’t invited came as well), and almost everybody drank. Only one person never touched a drop of alcohol at the party: Brian. Brian was no stranger to drinking back then, but he only indulged every once in a while. Tonight his mind was preoccupied (his friend John had recently gone missing when he went to see his girlfriend, Laura), and he continually gave back the glasses of beer his friends kept putting into his hands.
After the party, Ricky offered to drive Johnny, Jimmy, and Travis home. Brian had come in his own car, and aside from Ricky he was the only one in their group who owned a car. Johnny and Jimmy immediately obliged Ricky’s offer, but Travis was smart enough to see how drunk Ricky was, so he asked Brian to give him a ride home. After Brian dropped Travis off at his house and went home (his parents never cared when he came home, as long as he wasn’t drinking) he couldn’t sleep. He occasionally suffered from insomnia, and those nights when he couldn’t sleep were always extremely irritating for him. By the time 6:00 AM came around Brian was still awake, and with nothing else to do he grabbed a can of Pepsi from the fridge, reclined in the armchair, and turned on the news. The top story that morning made his breath catch in his throat, and he dropped the can of pop onto the floor where it spilled all over the carpet. Brian never even noticed that he dropped the can. On the news they were talking about a red car that broken through a guardrail the night before and plunged over 50 feet into a ravine, killing all three people inside. Brian didn’t need the news report to tell him who the casualties were. He recognized the car.
Brian never told anybody about the secret prediction the fortune-teller had made about him, but now it weighed on his mind more than it did on the night he had heard it. After they left Madame Bouvoir, they were almost out to the car when Brian realized that he had forgotten his jacket inside. He ran back in to retrieve it from behind his chair, and the second he placed his hand on it was when he heard the fortune-teller make her second dire prediction of the night. Still sitting in the same chair that she was in when they left, she looked him in the eyes and said those words which had haunted him everyday for the next twelve years. He stared at her for several eternal seconds, and ran out before she could say anything more.
The tears started to fall from his eyes, but not one of them was about the prediction. Brian walked up to bed and for the next two hours he mourned the loss of three of his best friends. They were always there for him whenever he was in trouble or in a depressed mood, and he was sure that any of them would have given their life for him if the time came. He wished it was him that had died in the car crash instead of them, and his stomach ached with dread when he realized that he could have offered Johnny and Jimmy rides home. But he didn’t. By 8:00 he stopped crying and got out of bed. His life suddenly seemed so unreal that he would have liked nothing better than to sleep all day. Now, though, he knew what he had to do. He had to go break the news of the deaths to his best friend, Travis.
Travis watched the news that morning, too, and heard about the accident at the same time that Brian did. When Brian got there, Travis’ mother told him that Travis had disappeared shortly before Brian arrived. Brian spent the whole day checking all of Travis’ usual hangouts, and after 24 hours the cops joined him in searching, but Travis was nowhere to be found. Two weeks later Travis’ mother seemed convinced that her son had left because she was never much of a parent to him, and she started going to nursing school.
The rest of Brian’s senior year, as well as the next four years of his life, passed by in a blur. Brian started doing horribly in football, and his playing was so bad that the coach kicked him off the team. He wasn’t much better off in his track meets, but he quit before the coach could kick him out of this, too. After losing any hope of a scholarship, Brian also lost any hope of going to college. His parents could never afford to pay for tuition, and after he quit the track team Brian simply stopped trying at school. His grades went down from mostly B’s to all F’s. His parents were called into school for conferences, and when that didn’t do any good Brian was forced to see a counselor. After many sessions, they had not made any progress. The counselor told his parents that Brian was upset about his friends’ deaths, but that wasn’t what made him lose his interest in school. In fact, she had never been able to find out what was making him fail his classes and become so bad at playing football and running track. Brian wasn’t comfortable in telling anybody that something as simple as what Madam Bouvoir told him could affect him so much, let alone a perfect stranger.
Brian seemed to be lost in his own world. He spent most of his days laying on either the bed or the couch, staring at the ceiling if he was in his room and staring at the TV if he was in the living room. He showered every other day, and he also ate a lot. After his senior year, he never left the house. His parents tried to cope with him and tried to understand that he was going through a difficult time in his life, but they slowly grew fed up with Brian’s apathy. By the time he became 21, his parents confronted him with an ultimatum: either he would get a job and start earning his keep, or they would throw him out of the house. With nowhere else to go, Brian was forced to get a job. He went through all of the necessary training and became, funnily enough, a police officer.
Getting a job seemed to instill a new sense of purpose into his life, and Brian slowly but surely came out of his 4-year slump. After his training at the police academy, Brian started to lose a lot of the weight that he had gained during his depression. He started showering twice a day. He shaved. He took care of himself. Most importantly, he also moved out on his own after 2 years on the job.
The station called him their best officer. On the days that he wasn’t out patrolling and performing his duties, he was usually speaking at local schools (high, middle, and even elementary) about the dangers of drunk driving, as he had firsthand experience about it. Some students were even known to cry during his heartfelt speeches. Through work he met another officer named Kathleen Wright. Four years after Brian moved out on his own, she became Kathleen King. Together, the two of them had a comfortable and happy living.
Brian had rebuilt his life after the death of his 3 friends. Sometimes Brian wondered if his life would have been better if he had gone off to college. He didn’t know, but sometimes he found himself thinking, “What if?” for hours on end. He was never able to completely move on after that fateful Friday night, but he had been able to keep going on with his life. So much had happened during that life, too; Brian had gone from the very depths of despair and mourning for the loss of his 4 best friends (as Travis was still missing and presumed dead) to being happier than he ever had been before. To him, it felt like only one thing never changed: his ever-growing dread of his 30th birthday. Most of the time he could stop himself from thinking about it, but it always stayed in the back of his mind, waiting for any excuse to come roaring back into his thoughts. On those nights that he couldn’t sleep, he blamed it on his insomnia (which had gone away long ago) because he still wasn’t comfortable in telling anybody, not even his own wife, about the prediction.
Surprisingly, Brian was able to sleep the night before. Around 4 AM, however, he woke up in a cold sweat. After a quick shower, he did what had occurred to his semi-panicked mind over 2 years before. He went down to the garage, took the car, and sped away from his home before dawn.
This was his plan. Since Travis had never been seen again after Ricky, Jimmy, and Johnny died (it seemed to happen a hundred years ago to him), Brian knew that the odds were millions to one that Travis would be traveling down the same road as him, if he were even still alive. Even if Travis did recognize him, he still had no reason to shoot at the man who had been his best friend when they were teenagers. It was obvious to Brian that he was running from his own inescapable paranoia, but he never stopped except for gas and food.
Brian checked his gas gauge and saw that he was down to a quarter of a tank. Making a mental note to stop for gas soon, he turned the radio to a different station.
It was the longest, shortest, most tense, and most relaxing day of his life. Being alone was both a blessing and a curse, and for an hour or two Brian relished the silence. After that he grew tired of being alone with nothing but his thoughts, and he had turned on the radio to keep him company.
By 2:00 PM nothing bad had happened, setting aside the fact that the air conditioner broke down around then. Brian lowered the window and enjoyed the nice cool wind, wondering how his wife would react to his leaving her at home. He made a vow to tell her the whole story and somehow make it up to her, and he turned the radio to a different station again.
The truth of the matter is that Travis was missing, but he was far from dead. After the Friday night in which he had lost 3 of his friends, he had packed up some of his clothes and other important possessions (including a picture of the 5 friends, all smiling) as well as his money, and he left home until he could sort everything out and deal with the tragedy. But he had never been able to cope with it. Brian had been able to rebound and bring his life back to some degree of normality, but Travis had never been able to. The knowledge that he had almost accepted a ride from Ricky and that his friends had died while he lived on slowly drove him insane. Travis did get a job and his own home, but it was a meager and lonely living at best. He never dated, and most of the people in the town steered clear of him because they could tell that there was something wrong with him. He had taken on a new identity (Robert Kovac), and nobody knew who he really was. Except himself. Travis was a rubber band that kept getting stretched with every passing day, and on a hot summer’s day he snapped. He had bought a handgun a few years before, and Travis began the long drive back to his hometown, almost 100 miles away. With nothing to blame for his irrational self-detachment from everything he had ever known, he blamed his lousy mother for never being there for him. Now he was going back there to make her pay.
Travis’ mind had been bent and twisted during the past 12 years until he became on the inside what he only looked like on the outside: a complete outlaw. When a police car started chasing him for something as simple as breaking the speed limit, he lowered the window, leaned out of the car, and fired the gun right at the officer. The cop swerved off to the side of the road and called in for backup, saying that he had been shot at. Within 5 minutes Travis had 8 cars on him, and he was running his car as fast as he could. He wasn’t scared at all; he was actually angrier than he had ever been in his life. The 4-lane highway had 2 lanes going each way, with a large concrete median in the center. With his window still lowered, Travis picked a random car going in the opposite direction and took aim. “This stupid ****’ll never know what hit him,” Travis said as he pulled the trigger.
It happened in less than a second. First Brian heard the sirens, then he saw the long line of cops chasing a beat-up old car, and suddenly a hole appeared in his windshield and there was pain in his chest and he let go of the wheel in shock and his car was skidding to the right and his side of the car hit the guardrail and the impact knocked him unconscious.
Travis was apprehended 17 miles down the road, and the cops had taken notice of the car that he had shot but made Travis their first priority. Several people driving by the accident stopped to see what had happened, but they also kept their distance from the car. A woman with dark hair had gone up to the wreckage and looked inside the car. There was a man in there who looked around 35 or 40, out cold if not dead, and the hole in the windshield made it obvious that somebody had shot him.
Suddenly the man’s eyes opened. The woman jumped back in shock as the man seemed to get his bearings. He groaned, rubbed his head, then shook it, and he casually opened the door and stepped out of the car. As they all could tell he had been shot because of the hole in his chest, everybody took a cautious step away from him. The man rubbed his chin and examined his ruined windshield with interest, and then he started laughing. Several people got into their cars and left. Just as the first cop pulled up to the crash, Brian King took off his shirt and revealed the bulletproof vest he had been wearing underneath.
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