Carlton “Skip” Davies sits in his car, casually watching traffic, the semis rocking it gently as they speed by. Skip flinches as one gets a little too close.
He watches all sorts of vehicles as they pass: luxury cars driven by balding middle age men; giant pick-up trucks with excited farm dogs in the back pacing back and forth, their mouths open and tongues flapping in the wind; hybrid cars, eerie in their silence like some sort of stealth machine; enormous, lumbering Winnebagos towing various recreational vehicles behind them; ancient and decrepit cars somehow still chugging down the road based on pure luck and a few rolls of duct tape holding various parts to the body.
He made a game of how many vehicles of a certain model he’d see, making a mental tally. So far today, Skip saw fourteen Hummers, six of those comical little Smart Car things, and his favorite, a gorgeous silver and bright cherry red 1973 Corvette. Skip actually got a hard-on when that one sped passed him. As his best friend Roger used to say back in their more wild and carefree days, it was “shit hot.” Skip would give anything to own a car like that, but on his meager salary, that was a pipe dream.
Skip is a cop going on twenty-five long years now. He isn’t anywhere near retirement and thinking about how he has ten more years to do so depresses him something terrible. He used to love his job, but now? He loathes donning the shit brown uniform, shiny black shoes, and hat. The strap in the back makes his bald head itch and has a permanent dent where it digs into the back of his skull. The black leather belt cuts into his doughy waist, too.
His wife used to run her long finger along the crease in his head and Skip smiles at the memory. Janie has been gone for five years this past November; brain aneurysm got her. The emergency room doctor tried to assure him she didn’t feel any pain as the faulty vessel ballooned out and burst while she was out in her garden, and Skip hopes he is telling the truth. Thinking his wife’s last moments alive were maybe spent in agony cuts Skip’s heart out all over again.
Skip and Janie haved two kids–twin boys. Skip doesn’t hear much from them since their mom died, but that’s okay with him. He doesn’t have much to say to them anyway. He loves his children, but doesn’t like them much. He wanted them to join the force like he did, but they had different ideas. Last Skip heard, Ben lives with his boyfriend in Atlanta and they own a used book store, and Peter is in Los Angeles trying to be an actor. Ben never calls or visits, and the one time Peter came home was a few months after his mother’s funeral, asking if he could have all of his share of the inheritance to help fund a screenplay he was co-writing. Skip asked him to leave.
Skip doesn’t have many friends, and that’s okay with him, too. He spends his days alone in his squad car, so what’s spending his nights and weekends alone, as well? He passes his time with woodworking projects and watching hardcore porn. In fact, he built the entertainment center his flat screen television sits on so he can watch quality high-def vile sex acts. Also the shelving unit that holds all of his porno DVDs. These two hobbies are the only thing he really lives for. Other than that, Skip hates his life. No wife, two miserable excuses for sons, a job he loathes…the only thing that keeps him going is the knowledge that he has to keep working to pay for all his lumber and tools and the porn.
Today, however, today Skip just doesn’t care anymore. A young woman in a black BMW flashes by the squad car and the radar alerts him she was going twenty miles over the limit. Skip blinks slowly and takes a sip of his Coke. I hope you blow a tire and swerve into oncoming traffic, he thinks. He snorts air out of his nostrils in twisted delight to this. Skip is done with it all. He reaches over to the glove box and opens it to fish out a porn magazine; it’s the one where women like getting defecated/urinated on. He flips through the pages, annoyed he isn’t getting an erection. A message over the scanner distracts him: possible drug bust on the interstate. All available units respond to the area.
Skip puts the magazine back in the glove box, starts the engine, and flicks the beacon and siren on. He peels out of his parking spot and makes a U-turn in the middle of the road. The scene is a few miles to the west and Skip presses his foot down hard on the accelerator. He watches the needle on the gauge creep up…fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety…
He tears down the highway, the mile markers blurring by him, and approaching cars pull off to the side to make way for the speeding police car. Skip’s adrenaline is pumping through his body and he gets a sudden and crazy thought–hey man, just kill yourself. You know you want to. Go on and do it. Your kids hate you and truth be told, the feeling is mutual. Janie’s gone. Just do it.
Lucid and behind the wheel of a car that represents a life he hates, Skip gives in to his thoughts. He stomps his foot down on the accelerator more, the vehicle now doing well over 100 MPH. Up ahead is an overpass going across the highway; you know, the ones with thick cement pillars supporting it in the middle. He’s going to drive his car into one of those. It approaches fast and Skip cranks the steering wheel hard to the left at the last second. The front end of the car connects with the thick column. Physics takes care of the rest.
Somehow, after what’s left of the rubble is sorted through, rescue crews find the dashboard camera still intact, as well as a porno mag with a photo of his late wife tucked inside and a small instrument used to carve intricate designs into wood.
Even in death, Deputy Carlton “Skip” Davies went out of this world surrounded by the few things he truly loved.