A head injury gives a man the ability to read people’s minds. His newfound skill not only changes his life, but the course of history as well.
Fight or Flight? They say people fall into two categories, those who fight for their survival and those who run for it. I guess I am the latter, then again it depends what you’re fighting or running from. There are variables to be deduced here. My main concern or variable in which has made me run like the wind is that the person chasing me is a horror show. He has military training. They say there are 1001 different ways to kill a man, but rest assured he knows way more. He has morphed his skills and experience into a career now. He’s a hired hit man who loves his work a little too much and I’m his mark. So yeah, I’m a flight kind of guy it seems.
So this is a car chase. This has been a car chase for an hour now and I hope it continues to be a car chase. If the psycho half a mile behind me catches me, it’s light out. No hearty goodbyes. No see ya later’s. Just roll the credits. End of story.
He always gets his man too. This is what you’d call a taxing thought. My old white Ford Galaxy is floored. I’m humming along at over 140 M.P.H. now on a highway somewhere outside Minneapolis and the slalom and skill of barreling through the spattering of compact cars, sedans and SUV’s in front of me is one tricky enterprise.
At 140 M.P.H. on a freeway in Minnesota people honk and give strange looks of pure panic. At 140 M.P.H. on a ten or twelve mile stretch of straight away freeway and I wish I could go faster. I almost wish a cop would pull me over, because at least then I’d have a cage to protect me. The old missile is shaking like a scud on target and it’s what you’d call an unwanted detail. The extra money I sunk into the suspension of this beast obviously wasn’t enough. The Camaro headlights behind me have faded now and I’m way up. I’m way up. I’m too fast for the nut job. The thirty thousand dollars I sunk into a super charged rare 440 big block is my best decision yet in life. I look back, the dark green Camaro is fading faster. My gas pedal is nailed to the floor, because this is my salvation. This is my freedom. There is safety in speed.
I’m just outside Minneapolis when I decide to take a hasty detour. This is either my saving grace or my funeral. I ease up and drive onto an off ramp and then get back onto the detour freeway. Now I’m heading in the opposite direction. Even though I just added a day or two of driving to my trip, I feel good about my decision. This increases my chances of survival tenfold. I hit the gas, 100…120…130…Radar Detector. Check.
52 hours later and I’m in some remote part of Michigan. Sometimes in the haze of my ultra tired mind, I can still see the sun glistening off the hood of that dark green Chevy Camaro paint job. I can also still see those menacing Camaro headlights. I’ll probably never forget that feeling of fright from the sight of it. A man like that won’t stop until one of us is in an incinerator and this is more frightening than the prospect of mere death itself. With death, there is predictability, there is no more fear, but how you die, well that is where it gets sketchy.
52 hours straight through and the sound of the road beneath is a constant lull, a white noise that forces my eyelids down like anchors. I look in the rearview mirror and there isn’t a car in sight. I’m way up. I exhale and pull onto an off ramp that says: Exit 495 White Star.
It doesn’t take long to find a strip mall motel that looks secluded enough. I park and want to pass out. My rear end is stuck to the leather seat like melting bubble gum. I get out and pray my legs still work. They do, but barely. I resemble someone who had either just ran a marathon or had something sharp stabbed into their ass cheek. A middle aged man is sitting behind the front desk of a place called The Shady Pines Motel.
“Hi there, some car you got there. New York eh?” he said to me in a way that I felt was much too chipper. I nod in agreement of whatever it was he has just said.
“Yep. Thanks, appreciate it.”
“What can I do for ya?”
“Got a room?”
“Yes sir. $39.99. How long are you going to be in town for?”
“For the night.”
He nods almost expecting me to talk more, but I don’t. He pulls out a receipt book.
“Check out time is 11 a.m. and there is no continental breakfast, but there is a MacDonald’s two point five miles down the road,” he says with a grin, one that reveals a couple of missing teeth and a genuine smile. “I’m Bill Ryan. I own the place. Have owned it for…Jesus…some sixteen years now.”
“What’s the name?” He asks.
“John John,” I say. He begins to write it down then stops. I give him my New York license.
“John John? That’s a new one.” He looks at it. His eyes confirm.
“Been driving like a trucker on speed for two days now, and could seriously use some R and R,” I reply.
“Well we seriously provide one of them there R’s that for sure. And I could tell you some stories that’s for damn sure. For the most part, the weekends are the busiest. I’ve seen both husbands and wives check in with people other than their husbands and wives if you catch my drift. For the week though, it’s usually slow except for those they let out of jail that have no other place to go. The courts usually let them stay here for a few nights before they figure out what to do. We have kind of an understanding that way,” he says rubbing his forefinger and thumb thus making the universal sign for “money.”
“And the other R?” I give him a fifty.
“I may know someone,” he says.
“If she isn’t Asian forget it.”
“Well this is White Star, Michigan so I guess I’ll forget it.”
He counts out change like he wants to keep it.
“Keep the change,” I say and he did so with a toothless grin.
I get in my old Ford and park it closer towards the end of the Motel as to not be seen so easily from Main Street. I pop the trunk and grab a duffle bag and head over to room 4. It is small, quant, a normal motel room by normal small town standards. The water is well water, but that was expected. There is no cable TV, just 8 local channels, which is fine. I’m not here for the news. There is also a phone and two full size beds.
I open my duffle bag and on top of some clothes are five thick stacks of fifty dollar bills, over $4000 in total. I dig to the bottom for a clean pair of jeans and another shirt, a white rolled up long sleeve white Dolce Gabbana dress shirt. I hang it up in the bathroom and take a quick shower. The water is hot and my eyelids get heavier. I fall onto one of the beds. I lay there naked thinking about all that has happened over the last four days. One word comes to mind: Cluster fuck. Somehow, though I made it. Somehow I made it this far and I realize how lucky I am. I should be dead right now.
My watch reads 4:00 p.m. and what seems like a second later, I open my eyes again and hear a thump. My watch says 6:52 p.m. There is another thump and I notice it comes from the next room over. I look out the window. There is a Chevy Suburban parked two spots away from my old Ford. It is probably a family up from the city I thought and cup my ear against the wall and hear children’s laughter. I breathe a sigh of relief and grab a fistful of fifties from the duffle bag. I fold up a portion of the receipt and as I close the door from the outside, I wedge the small folded paper onto the top of the door. This of course is a standard security measure. I pull my old white Ford out onto Main Street turning left into town and some three miles down the road a sign reads: Welcome to White Star, Michigan. Population 1,100. White Star is a mud bank river town that truly defines the term “sticks.” Just past the sign, I pull into the back parking lot of a place called Prick’s Pub.
To be honest you can never really prepare yourself for something like this. In fact, if someone else was going through it and explaining it to you, you’d pull away fast on pure survival instincts alone. You might feign a little interest and some pseudo sympathy, but then of course you’d distance yourself real quick from the whole fiasco. This was what I’d have done if it hadn’t happened to me. Now I’m preparing for the worst, because even though I lost him, you don’t ever really lose a highly motivated sick asshole like that.
At 7:00 p.m. on a Monday evening in a redneck hick bar in the middle of nowhere Michigan and even when one is looking for relaxation and seclusion well, that lofty notion can go sideways in a hurry. Prick’s Pub fit the bill. This is a hick bar right out of Central Casting. There are ten or twelve local drunks huddled around the tap talking about whatever pops into their weird wired heads…with the occasional roaming eyes directed, every so often at the stranger in the booth by the big front bay window. Before I know it I am four double Scotch and waters into trying to forget about my weekend.
I’m constantly looking out onto the street through the front bay window, almost expecting to see a dark green Camaro, but there is hardly any traffic. And thank God for that. In towns such as these the mornings and afternoons was when people lived and close to 8:30 p.m. now and everything seemed to stop.
It’d be no stretch to say that for the last two days, I’d rambled on and off highway exits and on ramps at a clip that’d make even professional NASCAR drivers shake in their shoes. You may want to know why I am running for my life, but that answer won’t live up to the hype. It’s a long story that really doesn’t have anything to do with me and if I told you the truth you might think I’m crazy. Maybe I am, but sometimes the past becomes the present. That’s the best I can explain it. Sometimes the past never goes away. I’m running for my life because of my boss and Woodrow Wilson, the ex dead president. It’s true. Here’s some history. Back on December 23rd, 1913 President Woodrow Wilson called a special session of Congress and The Federal Reserve Act was voted into law on a night when most of Congress was with their families for Christmas. The Federal Reserve Act, as you know, created a central banking system and thus gave banks more power via taxation, inflation, mortgage rates, etc. It is also responsible for Income Tax and taking money from your checks every week. My current boss is William J. Stanton III, the great grandson of William J. Stanton, who was one of the founders of The Phillip Morris Company right around the time Woodrow Wilson was president. This was when big business and government got together and it’s why big business and government is connected today. So I am running for my life, because of big old politics, big old money and the fact that I work for the powerful and crazy Great Grandson of a genius who died owning 35% of one of the biggest corporations in the world today. When you are in such a position as my boss, even if it all started over 100 years ago, well you’d likely made some enemies along the way. And he has. Most people want him dead. I guess that’s where I come in. My job is to keep him alive and he pays me quite handsomely for that privilege, although now I’m not sure it’s worth it anymore.
So I drink and look nervously out the window hoping to not spot the animal after me. I’m here to relax and regroup, because I’d been in some jams before, but this one has turned me sideways. I need a little normalcy before I head back to New York and I plan on going straight through. This is a much needed pit stop, trust me. Here inside Prick’s Pub, Detroit Red Wings, The University of Michigan Wolverines and Detroit Tigers pennants and paraphernalia are strewn throughout in homage to home state pride. I know Michigan and several people from the Mitten State and a good majority of them are drunks and if you’ve ever lived here, you’d understand why.
The man after me is nicknamed “Digs” but his real name is Robert Martin and Robert Martin is an ex-green beret turned professional hit man lacking any kind of compunction. He’s a creative killer. The scariest thing about him is his existence and the fact of how the world can produce an insane killer like that. That is the scariest part.
I am at that point where alcohol is working at its best most optimum level and I spark up a Marlboro, lost somewhere between the Detroit Pistons game on TV and constantly checking the front window of Prick’s Pub praying I don’t see a dark green Camaro.
A very tall, beefy bartender in a Dale Earnhardt Jr. slouch cap saunters over and instructs me to put the cigarette out.
“Oh sorry, I haven’t been to a bar in years,” I say. “The no smoking thing…Got it.”
He knows I’m lying, but is unexpectedly cool and smooth about it.
“Not a problem. You can smoke outside if you want, just not in here. Not my law, it’s the state’s law,” he replies walking away with his eyes wide. I nod and snuff out the cigarette with my middle finger and put the half smoked butt back in the pack.
I finish my drink, but not before noticing a police cruiser parked across the street. I get up, not too wobbly. It is a welcomed bubbly type wobbly. Some smokers are outside, as well as the police officer parked in the dark under a sycamore tree on Main Street trying to look inconspicuous. I walk as soberly as I can past his viewpoint, but figure he’ll pull me over as soon as I drive off. That’s how it works in these sorts of towns. Come on vacation, stay on incarceration and leave on probation.
My old Ford is parked in a parking lot behind the bar, next to an alley. I get in, rinse my mouth out with mouthwash a few times and spit onto the cement. Then I spray cologne in the air a bunch of times, and then more mouthwash and then I exhale knowing what is probably coming. I decide to leave out behind the bar in an alley that leads out to a side street and maybe I could bypass the police officer altogether. Even despite my stealthy attempt however, the cop immediately pulls out right in front of me, just as I pull onto the side street. I even signaled, despite no one even being around but still he pulls over. I settle on an old trick I learned years ago. Its success rate is based largely on the officer and the lack of light ala the dark night air. He approaches my old Ford.
“License and registration?” he says and I had it ready. “You didn’t come to a complete stop when you pulled out of the alley,” he went on.
“I thought I did,” I say.
“Been drinking tonight?”
“I had two beers to be honest about two hours ago. I should be fine. They were light beers and I didn’t even drink the whole last one,” I say.
“Is that so,” he says in that police way that tells me he thinks I’m lying or that he’s heard that one a few times before. He pulls the breathalyzer.
“Can you step out of the car please?”
“I can,” I say slightly miffed.
“When I tell you to I want you to breathe into the tube and exhale as hard as you can until I tell you to stop. Got it?”
“Yes sir got it.”
So he tells me to exhale and I make it appear as if I am exhaling, but instead I inhale. The trick is to make it appear through body language that one is in fact exhaling, but the key is to use the throat and control the lungs enough to actually inhale. Also, the more you push the air around in your mouth and the more noise you make into the tube, as you’re sucking in, the more it seems like you are exhaling quite hard. Five seconds of sheer showmanship and he tells me to stop.
“What we got?” I asked.
“Point Zero Four.”
“I’m no lawyer, but isn’t that like under the legal limit?” I ask.
“You’re from New York is that right? What are you doing in White Star?”
“Just passing through, on my way home from the U.P. Great country up there, was visiting a friend,” I say. “I’m staying at The Shady Pine’s Motel just down the road from here for one night of rest, then I’m on the road again as Willie Nelson likes to say.”
“Ok. Head on over straight to Shady Pines. You’re free to go,” he adds.
I stand shocked and slightly bewildered for a moment then get in my old Ford and pull out. He did follow me for a few blocks waiting for me to do something stupid, but then he suddenly U-turns and goes back towards the bar.
The Shady Pine’s Motel is three miles away and I pull in and see Bill Ryan still sitting at the front desk reading a magazine. I wave, but he doesn’t even look up.
I park the car and slowly walk over to Room 4. I see no paper on the ground. So I unlock it quietly and open the door slowly and listen. Nothing happens. Then I notice no paper has fallen from the top of the door so I immediately bolt. It is check out time! Digs is here. He is in my room. I am sure of it.
With that I run around the back of the motel and towards the office in front.
“You’re not making it to New York – John John,” a voice erupts from just outside Room 4.
Bill Ryan’s gold Cadillac El Dorado is parked by the side of the office and I bust in and tell Bill to call 911. But Bill Ryan doesn’t move. Upon further review it becomes clear why. His stomach is full of blood and he is propped up into the chair with rope. I grab the keys behind the front desk and dial “911” leave the receiver off the hook and jump into the gold Cadillac El Dorado like greased lightning. Digs is walking around the back of the motel when I start it up and floor it. Immediately shots ring out hitting the trunk about five or six times and I am gone!
I floor it and some minutes later, in the distance of my rear view mirror, two cop cars with lights flashing seem to be approaching The Shady Pines Motel. Suddenly it sounds like a war zone. Digs is a dead man no doubts. And thank God for that! I focus on driving again and am going around 80 M.P.H. when suddenly a cop car approaches fast from behind, sirens blazing. No telling what a judge would throw at me now. Grand theft auto. Carjacking. I could plead self-defense, I thought. Shit. Why not? It was the truth.
I look back in my rearview and the police cruiser is right on my bumper now. It must have been going about 120 M.P.H., because now so am I as to not get rammed. I think to slow down and pull over when a couple more shots ring out. I look back and the sight of Digs’ crazy mug hanging out the driver’s seat of the police cruiser with a handgun jolts my soul in ways that words cannot define. Suddenly, the trunk flies up in the air, unhinged by gunfire and my life flashes before my eyes.
In the oncoming lane three cop cars blaze by and in unison U-turn to give pursuit behind me. There is also a lot of acceleration behind me, so I floor it, but then suddenly – I am bumped from behind. It is startling. I think to slow down again and pull over to let the real police know that I am innocent here or to be more precise – unarmed, but that isn’t possible now. Digs will kill me long before then.
The trunk keeps bouncing up and down and it’s putting me even more on edge. The police cruisers run up on Digs and when I look back he slams into me once more and this time everything goes black. My head smashes against the windshield hard and I am out cold. I remember being awoken by loud sirens and erratic gun fire. The war zone goes on seemingly forever then everything suddenly stops. No gunshots. No yelling. No noise. Silence. The Cadillac is on its side. The driver door is at a 90 degree angle up from the ground. There is no telling how many times I flipped over.
I try to move, but can’t. I am plastered against the passenger door, broken glass and pavement below. I’m also in serious pain. My legs don’t budge. My ribs hurt like hell. I wonder how many ribs I had broken. I know it’s more than one. Slowly I coax my legs to bend. Somehow they do, but the pain is ungodly. I stop. I breathe. I want to cry. Then in a panic of adrenaline, I jump up onto the driver’s side, but the old tank doesn’t budge an inch. I climb slowly and painfully up and out of the driver’s window and fall onto the ground. It is a good seven feet drop and I scream. I hold my ribcage. I want to die. My face drips with blood from hitting the windshield and God knows what else. I wipe my face with my T-shirt and after many minutes I struggle to my feet somehow.
A passing car in the oncoming lane of this two lane country highway slows down and rubbernecks at the carnage. I remember the middle aged driver looked at me horrified. I also remember trying to not fall over when I looked at him. The sight of my bloody face is cause for alarm. I must look like a horror show, I thought. I see him put his cell phone to his ear and speed off.
I try to yell at him for help, but no words come out.
I step, one foot after the other, slowly. The pain is immense. Soon I am walking slowly and the police cars are all lined up like a parade of flashing lights off to the side of the road. The squelch of the radio is all that could be heard, along with some startled frogs croaking holy terror into the night air. I see Digs laying face down in a pool of blood behind Bill Ryan’s Cadillac El Dorado no doubt running after me to make sure the job was done. I rub my eyes and look again. It is him. There are two gunshots in his back. There are also three police officers not moving. Blood is everywhere and I feel ill. It looks like a fallen battlefield.
Everything is hazy. I can hear more sirens faintly in the distance so I get into a car not really realizing what I was doing. All I know was I needed to flee. I am still buzzed up and half dead sitting in the police car Digs had stolen, when I pull out and can barely see. Blood keeps dripping into my eyes like a warm faucet, but I keep wiping it with my T-shirt. I somehow make it into Standish, a town about five miles or so down the road. An ambulance quickly passes and then three more cop cars behind it. There is also a fire truck behind them. They see me just outside of town, so I quickly pull into a drug store parking lot when I get into Standish, Michigan. I get out of the police car with my hands up, my face bloodied. And I wait. I hold my arms up even though it kills me to hold my arms up. The pain is too much and my adrenaline reserves are depleting. The police cruiser barrels into the parking lot right in front of me and two doors fling open.
“Don’t move. Keep your hands up!” booms a voice. So I do just that. My face is covered in blood and I don’t budge.
Two police officers approach with guns pointed.
“Get on your knees and put your hands behind your back. Do it now!” And I do.
They cuff me and walk me over to a cruiser that is parked in front of the drug store and stuff me into the back seat. Then they drive me to the hospital.
They walk me in. There is a reporter standing outside the front door of the hospital.
“We’ll let you know what’s going on Stacy, go home, get some sleep please,” the larger officer says to the female reporter in passing.
“Is this the man that fired at police?” Stacy the reporter shouts.
“We will let you know. Now please…”
I am taken into a hospital room and I feel half dead. I look around. This room is guarded heavier than Fort Knox. I suddenly get the sinking feeling that my trip back home will be delayed. Then everything goes black.