A Convenient Getaway


I bolt upright at the sound of the high-pitched ring. Groggy, I fumble in the dark for my cell.

“Hello?”

“Dylan, man, it’s me.”

I flick on my bedside light and look at the phone display. Why is Marcus calling me? Though I can probably guess.

“Dude, it’s three AM,” I say, my eyes adjusting to the light. I lean back against the headboard.

“I need you to come get me.” His voice is quiet, but hurried. I almost hang up, annoyed that he woke me up. But the urgency in his tone is compelling.

“What happened? You still at Kyle’s?”

“No. Just come get me and I’ll explain.”

“Fine, where are you?”

He gives me an address – pretty close by – and I grab a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. I don’t bother looking in the mirror as I run my hand through my hair; I know it’s a total mess.

Marcus was spending his Saturday night at Kyle’s house party, one I chose to avoid. With exams right around the corner, I am in no condition to party. Marcus has never cared about college though.

I’m in the car and down the road in a matter of seconds. The sooner I pick him up, the sooner I can get back to bed. He always calls me when he needs a hand. What else are best friends for?

As I near the address a cop car whips by me, heading in the same direction. Weird, we don’t have a lot of cops in the area. My suspicions grows when another goes by.

I turn down a side street, away from the blaring sirens towards a small housing complex. Neither Marcus nor Kyle lives anywhere close by. What is he doing here? Marcus waits on the curb, hands shoved in his pockets. He looks up at me as I get close. A wave of relief washes over his face when my headlights fall on him. He moves towards the car, pulling open the passenger’s side.

“Thanks man,” he says.

I only nod, pulling the car away from the curb. “Where to?”

Another siren blares and Marcus stiffens. His brows form a hard line and his forehead creases.

“How much gas have you got?”

I frown. What a weird question. I glance at my gauge. “Just over half.”

He leans back. “Great. I need to cross state lines.”

“What?” I almost stop the car. That was at least an hour’s trip – one way.

Lights flash in the rear-view mirror and another cop passes. Marcus looks away.

“What are they doing here?” he asks, watching the car slow to a crawl down the residential side street.

I shrug and hit the radio as I turn back to the main highway. “Why do you need to leave the state?” The crackling radio seems to answer my question.

...He’s still on the loose. The police are working on closing the case as soon as possible. I repeat, breaking news. If you have any information please contact your local police. Be on the lookout for a tall Caucasian man in his mid-twenties. Dark hair, large build and driving 1990 blue Corolla with the license plate AXTS 852…

I stare at the radio. That’s Marcus’s car.

His sausage-like finger prods the controls, turning off the reporter.

My eyes widen. What did he do?

“My cousin has a place in Greenville. I’ve crashed with her before.” Marcus says, looking out the window.

“Why are the cops looking for your car?” My hands tighten on the rough steering wheel.

“It’s not my fault,” he says.

“What’s not?”

Marcus released a long breath. This can’t be good.

“Maddie’s dead.”

I slam the brakes and turn toward him. “What?” Maddie is a quiet girl that’s in our program – or was in our program. She had been seeing Marcus for a couple weeks. I didn’t know her well.

“I don’t know man.” Marcus looks behind us. “She did a line and just dropped dead!”

“But you’ve done it before,” I say.

“Yeah, I know.” He runs a hand through his hair and scratches at the scruff on his chin. “I dunno, but it was messed up.”

“And the cops?”

Marcus shifts in his seat. “Spotted my car leaving the house, I guess.” He waves to the road. “Can we get going? Sitting here is freaking me out.”

“Where’s the car now?” I ask as I start down the road again. I turn on to the main highway and see another set of cop lights. Marcus sinks lower in his seat.

“Gone.”

“Gone?”

“I set it on fire and ran,” Marcus says.

I glance in the rear-view mirror; the road now empty behind us. “They’ll find that car and know it was yours.”

Marcus snorts with laughter. “Hardly. There’s no evidence in the car and the license plate isn’t registered. It’ll be fine.”

I don’t believe him, but shrug off the feeling. Marcus has dealt coke for years and has frequent run-ins with the cops.

“Does your cousin know you’re coming?” I ask.

“Yah, I shot her a text as I left the party. I’ll call her when I’m close.”

“Did she answer you?”

Marcus reaches into his pocket and pulls out his cell. He pushes a button, then mashes a few more with little success.

“Crap,” he mutters.

I glance over at him. “What?”

Marcus holds up his cell. “Piece of shit’s dead.”

I almost smile at the irony. “You got a charger?”

Marcus doesn’t answer.

“What?” I ask again.

Marcus looks at me with a sheepish smile. “I think I burned it with the car.”

I toss my phone on his lap. “Use it, but be quick. Then after today, don’t call me until things have cleared up for you. Driving you away from a drug bust in one thing; fleeing the scene of manslaughter is another.”

“It’s not my fault!”

“I don’t care.” I shake my head. “I’ve got exams next week. There’s a reason I didn’t come to Kyle’s in the first place.”

“She should know what she can handle.” Marcus crosses his arms. His defensive attitude tells me he feels guilty, but not guilty enough to stay.

“And now she’s dead.”

That shut him up. He opens his mouth to argue, but quickly closes it again.

“I’m sorry I called you,” he mutters, looking out the window.

“Don’t be,” I say. “Better me picking you up then the cops.”

He nods. “Yeah, I know. Thanks, by the way, for helping me.”

“It’s cool.” I take the exit towards Greenville. “Don’t I always?”

Marcus laughs. “I can sure count on you.”

“You can.” I nod. “Now tell me the fastest way to your cousin. I need to get back to study.”

Marcus points in the direction we’re heading. “You’re on the right track and don’t worry, I’ll stay away till I know everything is cool.”

I nod, exhaustion from the night washing over me. “I know. Just lay low, okay man?”

Marcus half smiles, “I’ll do my best.”


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