|Pursued Through Fairyland
Author: Brian Lawrence PM
A Mercedes sports car, Bryce Canyon, and a high speed chase. This was originally a contest piece where Mercedes was the sponsor.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Suspense/Mystery - Words: 2,477 - Published: 06-25-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3035980
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Pursued Through Fairyland
by Brian Lawrence (2000)
She burst into the restaurant as I finished the last piece of my bumbleberry pie.
"Jordan, he's here!"
"Who's here?" I wiped my mouth, leaving a purple (or as the proprietors call it, burple) stain on the white linen napkin.
"From New Jersey?"
"What other husband do I have?" Exasperated, Maureen pursed her thin lips.
I shrugged. These days, one never knows. "Didn't you tell him you were divorcing him?"
"Of course. My lawyer delivered the papers last week.
Obviously, he didn't take it too well."
Obviously. I flipped a ten on the counter, not bothering to wait for the change, and left the Bumbleberry Inn, Maureen closely following.
Dry heat. Utah in August. The concrete shimmered.
"This way," she grabbed my arm. Her long, polished nails dug into my flesh. For a slight woman, she was strong, but not strong enough to move me. I had to drink in the vista.
Being an East coast city boy, I marveled at the scenery. And Maureen wasn't bad either. Her azure eyes matched the cloudless sky. Her layers of brown paralleled the jagged rock outcroppings behind the inn. Deep tan legs, dark red rock, khaki walking shorts, white sandstone, rust-colored sleeveless top, burnt sienna cliff walls, cropped blonde hair, and beige summit.
Again, she tugged on my arm. I snapped out of my reverie and followed her to the parking lot. She stopped by a Mercedes roadster. More awesome scenery.
Sleek, silver, two-door, hard-top, alloy wheels. It looked sexy like Maureen, yet mean-spirited, a wild filly.
Maureen said, "230 SLK. Brand new. Now get in." She tossed me the keys. "You drive."
"Yes, ma'am." No hard sell there.
I pulled open the door and sank into the bucket seat. The leather fused to my body. When I gripped the steering wheel, I became one with the car. I swear I felt it ripple beneath my touch.
I turned the key. The car growled to life, then settled into a confident purr. It waited, as tense as I was, anxious to feel the road under its paws.
Maureen opened the passenger door. I glanced her way and noticed the Adidas shoe box on the seat.
"What's that?" I picked up the box.
She snatched it from me and tossed it in the back seat.
"That's probably what the big galute is after."
"What is it? Money?"
Instead of answering, Maureen pointed to a red Mercedes 450 SL idling at the end of the parking lot. "There he is."
Matching Mercedes. How cute.
Her husband's car started toward us. The chase was on.
I shifted into reverse, slammed down the accelerator, and cranked the wheel, then braked, shifted to first, and again punched the accelerator. The roadster leaped out of the lot and roared onto Highway 9, heading east. The 450 followed.
For thirty miles we skirted the rim of Zion Canyon, finally reaching highway 89. I turned left, hardly slowing. The car hugged the concrete and made only the slightest screech, but the shoe box slammed against the side of the car. The lid popped up, but settled back into place.
Maureen's husband stayed close, though he nearly lost it on the turn.
I flicked a look at Maureen. Her hands gripped the edge of her seat, knuckles as white as the untanned circle on her finger where the ring had been.
"What's in the box?"
I veered to avoid what at first I thought was a Tasmanian Devil, then felt foolish as it was only tumbleweed.
Maureen shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry, thought it was an animal."
I smiled at her. A small button on the console next to the emergency brake caught my eye. I'm a sucker for buttons, especially when I don't know what they're for. What the heck. I stabbed the button. The top started moving.
In twenty-five seconds the heavens opened up. Hot dry air whipped our hair. The smell of sage filled our nostrils. The roar of speed drowned our conversation. And the thrill of the chase sent chills of excitement through my tingling body. Unbelievable. High dessert canyons, a beautiful woman, and a sleek sports car. Can life get any better?
Then I looked in the rearview mirror and two things convinced me life could get better. A red Mercedes with an angry husband, and a shoe box with God knows what. I wondered if I threw the box out of the car if the husband would go away. I started to reach behind me, but glanced at Maureen. She glared at me, and as if reading my mind, slowly shook her head. I pulled my arm back and grinned.
We streaked along Highway 89, the husband in pursuit. This country was new to me, a dream of mine, to see the great canyons of the West. I would have preferred to see the sites at something under a hundred and thirty miles per hour, but I tried my best.
We caught the occasional glimpse of sprinting antelopes and the tawny flash of prairie dogs. High overhead, nearly lost in the sea of blue, a large hawk or maybe an eagle soared.
A brown and black bird streaked across in front of us. A roadrunner! I honked the horn and laughed. Beep, beep.
I turned onto highway 12, heading toward Bryce Canyon National Park. Her husband followed.
We flew past the Ruby Inn. A turn off swiftly approached. When we drew parallel, I slammed the wheel to the left. The shoe box scooted across the seat. The back end fishtailed, but the car held. I punched the accelerator and the little roadster leaped forward. We hurtled toward Bryce Canyon. In the rearview mirror, I watched, delighted, as her husband overshot the turn and disappeared from view.
"What kind of evidence is in the box?" I asked.
Maureen faced me. She held her whipping hair with one hand and squeezed my leg with the other.
"The kind that could put Jimmy away forever."
"What did he do?"
Before she could answer, the road ahead disappeared.
I slammed on the brakes and spun the wheel. The car stopped parallel to a guardrail with inches to spare.
What a panorama. I knew from studying my guidebooks that we gazed upon the grandeur of Fairyland View. A spectrum of browns. Tall, slim spires of sandstone that had been carved by raging waters. The image conjured in my mind was of a soldier kneeling before high-priests, about to accept his duty.
"It's like castle towers," Maureen murmured, the awe apparent in her voice. And for each person, another interpretation, I'm sure.
The car idled languidly, not even breathing hard, ready for more chase. And it wasn't denied, for a cloud of dust disgorged a red menace on the road we'd just come.
"There he is," Maureen shouted.
I stepped on the accelerator and the car jumped forward, eager to perform. First, second, then third gear in rapid succession. We shot past hubby. I gave a jaunty wave, then slammed into fourth gear.
Back on Highway 12, I headed deeper into Bryce Canyon.
The National Park's entrance station loomed ahead. Thank God the gate was up. We flew through without bothering to slow. In the rearview mirror I glimpsed a park ranger wearing an authentic Smoky the Bear hat. Man, I wish we could have stopped, I wanted a picture with him. He had stepped onto the road and was shaking his fist in the air, but leaped back into his booth as Maureen's husband zipped by.
We climbed rapidly. My ears plugged so I swallowed and they popped. Ahead, an irresistible sign beckoned. "Inspiration Point". No way I could pass it up, enraged husband or not. I tapped the brake, then turned hard onto the narrow road. The box in the back did a barrel roll, but the lid stayed on. And unfortunately, Jimmy stayed on us.
I eased off the accelerator as we entered a circular drive. Inspiration Point flashed by, our pursuer too close to allow us to stop and get sufficiently inspired. Even so, burned into my memory was the white wedge topped by a dark green crown which overlooked a city of rust-colored spires, fashioned like Ancient Hindu temples. Magnificent. I made a mental note to return when I was less pressured.
We sped back the way we came, Jimmy still dogging us.
"Why do you have this evidence?" I asked.
"Leverage," Maureen shouted above the roar of the wind.
"What kind of leverage?"
"In case the big lug tries to screw me in the divorce settlement."
I pondered what could be in the blasted box. Receipts of shady dealings? Fraudulent tax records? Photographs of compromising positions? Maureen had never told me what her husband was into. I wasn't sure I wanted to know.
Ahead, I spotted a road to the left, one I'd missed the first time past. I took it.
Two sharp lefts and we started a gradual descent on a straight road. I pushed the car for all she had. On our right, open dessert ran together in a blur of sand and sage. On the left, scattered pine trees caused a strobe effect. Like an old-fashioned movie, the canyon flicked by a frame at a time. The smell of the pine sap reminded me of the dark forests of home, but the dry heat and relentless sun on my head banished the illusion.
Up ahead, decision time. A fork in the road. I veered left, then braked hard, making a sharper left. What can I say, I'm left-handed, always had that preference.
Even over the wind I heard the thumping of the box in the back seat. I willed it to open, but it defied me and its mysterious contents remained just that, mysterious.
The 450 squealed behind us. We jagged around some curves and approached another circular drive. I slowed and took in the view. Bryce Point. The sheer towers beckoned to us. Oh, to have the time to hike the trails into the bowels of this alien landscape. Except for the maniacal husband behind us kicking up dust and making a general menace of himself, I could have imagined us on Mars. I longed to know what it was like to be at the base of the canyon looking up. I vowed I'd find out.
I slammed on the brakes. The car skidded into a 180. We ended up facing away from Jimmy's car, our rear bumper inches from his front. He'd had a bout of cleverness and had gone the other way around the circle, cutting off our retreat.
I stared at the canyons ahead of us. The guardrail didn't appear that sturdy. We could do the Thelma and Louise thing. I imagined us hurtling through the air, falling, rings of brown flashing before us. For a few seconds, we would be golden eagles descending upon a pika on the canyon floor. I could end it that way and die happy.
I turned to Maureen to suggest it, but she was opening her door. The sun became overbearing, the air heavy and stifling, even at 8100 feet. Her absence left a hint of honeysuckle mixed with sage and pine.
I swiveled in the seat and watched the receding back of the woman I loved, trying to keep my beating heart out of my throat. Hubby was out of the 450 and walking toward us. Shiny, double-breasted suit, slicked back, black hair, doing the gangster gig. Maureen had told me how jealous he gets. How he'd once beaten a man near to death. He had the size. Taller than me, heavy, all muscled under that expensive suit. He stopped. Maureen stopped.
In a shrill voice, she yelled, "It's in the back seat of the car. Get it and leave us alone."
My eyes widened as slick hubby dropped to his knees. His hands came up in prayer.
"Maureen, darling. Please. I don't want anything but you. Please come back to me. I promise I'll retire. I won't do no more jobs. Never."
I nearly lost my bumbleberry pie. And then I looked at Maureen. She was buying it! The corners of her bright red lips quivered. Mist formed in her eyes.
Then, to my utter amazement, she rushed to her husband, helped him to his feet, and threw her arms around his thick neck. Without a glance back, they strolled to Jimmy's car, climbed in, and drove away.
Stunned, I got out of the car, walked a few steps toward where they'd been, and stared in disbelief at the settling dust, trying to keep my heart from tearing apart. Something to my right whistled. I looked in that direction, annoyed at the audacity of the intrusion into my self-pity.
On a large, flat rock, a dark brown, cat-sized animal with a round head sat on its hind legs and stared at me. The marmot (I'd seen one in the guidebook) whistled again, obviously alerting his companions to the presence of the city-slicker.
I stuck my tongue out at the marmot and turned. My heart fused back together. The sun brightened. The canyon vista before me beckoned. When I laid my eyes on the gleaming silver beauty that awaited me, I knew the day was not a complete loss. On the contrary, I think I came out way ahead.
I swear the Mercedes smiled at me as I approached her. I nodded, feeling strangely contented. Me and the little silver lady were going to explore the rest of fairyland.
I climbed in and saw the box in the back seat. Okay, I had to find out. Thinking I was prepared for anything, I sucked in a deep breath and tore off the lid.
I shrieked and threw the box out of the car, over the guardrail, and down the canyon. I knew I'd never purge myself of the image of that single brown eyeball staring back at me from its bed of newspaper.
After several minutes, I managed to control my hyperventilation. What was I so shaken up about? I had the car, it was a beautiful day, Jimmy was miles away, and the "evidence" was several thousand feet below me.
Just before I turned the key, the marmot whistled again. This time I waved, then started the car and headed for Sunrise Point, where I could pick up the Queen's Garden Trail for a nice afternoon walk.