I asked my friend why she wore floral panties, and she explained it was in memory of all the men who’d been buried there.
“I’ll be there in an hour, I just need to stop by the house… oh, shit,” I gasped, as I yanked the wheel of my Jeep to the side sharply.
The phone I’d been talking on fell from my fingers into the crack between the seat and the console when I let go to clutch the steering wheel with both hands.
Having both hands on the wheel made no difference, though. A useless gesture.
I had no control over it.
Within the first three seconds of being off the road, the steering wheel jerked and slanted, ripping from my fingers and going in one direction. No matter how hard I tried, it wouldn’t stop heading for the one thing I was sure was going to stop the Jeep cold, and very likely kill me.
Towards the large trunk of a pine tree the size of a small house, and about twice as tall as a telephone pole.
“Oh, hell,” I whispered, and the world went dark.
* * * * *
I was driving down the road that would lead me to my parent’s house when a Jeep, the same color as my own, caught my attention.
It nearly looked the same as mine as well, except mine was a few years older and was sitting on 35 inch tires with a six inch lift, whereas the other one was still stock.
If I wasn’t watching so closely, I would’ve never seen the deer that ran out in front of the other Jeep. I would’ve never slowed in time, and I would’ve been taken out since the other jeep swerved sharply to avoid hitting the deer.
In a series of events that almost happened too fast for my eyes to see, I watched in helpless horror as they all played out before my eyes.
The right front tire blew, causing the jeep to swerve sharply in the opposite direction it’d been headed, and crossed the road in front of me, taking out the deer with the back of the jeep, as it spun 360 degrees.
It lurched to a bone-jarring stop when the front of the Jeep came into contact with a fifty year old pine tree that’d been there since before time.
“Motherfucker,” I breathed as I pulled over quickly, jumped out, and started running towards the mangled vehicle.
At first, I thought I was seeing things when a pert, muscled ass covered in a tight black skirt, started to make its way out of the passenger side window.
Then she fell out, and I was faced with one of the shortest women I’d ever seen in my life.
Holding a camping axe with blood running down her face.
“Whoa,” I said as I held my hands up in order not to scare her.
She blinked at me. “Did you see where she went?”
I cocked my head to the side and tried not to think that the woman in front of me was bat-shit crazy, but I failed. “What do you mean, she? Are you all right?”
She huffed. “The deer, boy. Where’d the deer go?”
Did she just call me boy?
The little spitfire had to be the cutest thing I’d ever seen.
She was all of five feet tall, at the most, and her cute pink blonde hair, although matted with blood, was still in perfectly curled shape surrounding her face.
The shirt she was wearing was slowly being ruined by the steady drip of blood from the laceration on her forehead, but that didn’t seem to bother her any.
“How about you let me drive you to the hospital?” I asked as she started to pass me.
When I held my hand out, she jerked her arm away from my touch and started walking purposefully in the direction of the road.
“I’m fine. How about you just let me see where that deer went, and we’ll talk more later?” She offered congenially.
I barely suppressed the urge to laugh at the woman.
Like I’d leave her here when it was very likely that she had a concussion.
Fishing the handkerchief I kept in my pocket out, I held it out to the woman. “You have blood running down your cheek and staining your white shirt.”
She looked down and gasped. “No! I just bought this shirt. Shit! He’s so going to never let me forget this.”
My eyebrows raised. “Who’s not going to let you forget?”
She looked at me and smiled sadly. “My boyfriend. He likes to hang every little thing I’ve ever done wrong over my head, and never lets me forget anything. He still likes to let me know, on occasion, that we should see other people. I’m going to take him up on it this weekend.”
If my eyebrows rose up anymore, they’d disappear into my hair. “Why this weekend?”
“Our mutual best friend’s the only reason I stayed with him that long. He died this past weekend, and we were supposed to go to the funeral. I’ve probably missed it by now,” she said sadly.
I started herding her towards my Jeep.
We were on a fairly secluded road, and there was really no chance that help would even see us with how far we were off the road.
The woman was lucky I was here when she wrecked, otherwise she’d be wandering around aimlessly in the woods.
“You’re going to break up with your boyfriend after his best friend just died?” I asked in partial disgust and partial intrigue.
She looked over her shoulder and up at me. “Yes. He cheated on me. With our best friend’s girlfriend nonetheless. It was, of course, an act of deep sorrow that his best friend and her boyfriend was dying…or so he says. He has to know that it’s coming. I didn’t even want him at the funeral, but Nathan didn’t want to make a big deal of it. So now we’re all going to the funeral, acting like we’re best friends, and we most definitely are not.”
The woman sure was chatty.
And my heart felt funny.
What she’d just told me really set my blood to burning, and I wanted to knock the boyfriend…ex-boyfriend, into next week with my steel-toed combat boot. What an asshat.
“I’m sorry to hear that, darlin’,” I said sorrowfully.
She smiled tightly at me and shrugged. “Not your fault, now is it?”
What the fucker was thinking to cheat on her was beyond me. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, even with the axe she had a death grip on and blood running down her cheek.
Most men would find the woman crazy. However, I wasn’t like most men.
“You want me to take you to the funeral?” I asked.
She smiled so bright at me that the anger I was feeling towards her shit of a boyfriend evaporated with just that one simple act.
“Would you mind? I have another shirt in my Jeep, could you go get it?” She pleaded.
I nodded. “Sure, be right back.”
I jogged towards her car quickly, spotting the shirt hanging up in her back seat.
I winced when I saw the state of the front, knowing that the beast was definitely totaled. Poor girl. (The Jeep, not the woman.) (Well, the girl, too. But not as much as the Jeep. ‘Cause there was no way the Jeep was going to make it out of this one alive.)
Reaching through the opened driver’s side window to the backseat, I grabbed the shirt and then spotted the purse that was dumped out on the passenger seat.
Walking around to the other side, I gathered her things up quickly and shoved them back into her purse, widening my eyes slightly when I saw the compartment where a small revolver hid conspicuously in between the two compartments.
Out of curiosity, I opened her wallet and searched, finally finding what I was looking for in the very back slot. She was a concealed handgun holder. That was hot. As an Army Ranger, it always made me happy to see someone that was prepared and utilizing their right to bare arms.
Life was spontaneous and harsh. Preparation was needed. One never knew when something bad was going to happen. If you’re prepared for something, regardless of what that threat is, you’ll live. If not, you’ll die. It’s that simple.
Even the most innocent of things could be bad news.
Shoving the wallet back into her purse, I reached forward and took the keys, scanned the vehicle for anything else that she might need, and jogged back to the Jeep only to find it empty.
“Shit,” I said as I scanned the area.
A flash of white caught my attention and I turned towards the woods.
I found her not far away staring at the remains of the deer. She hadn’t made it far. Forty yards at most.
“You were supposed to wait in the car,” I chided her once I got close enough.
She glared at me. “I know. I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t out here suffering.”
I blinked, surprised by the act. “You were going to put her out of her misery if she was?” I asked in surprise.
No woman I knew would’ve done that.
“Yes,” she said as she turned. “I know what it’s like to suffer. Or, at least, see that they’re suffering. It’s not a fun way to go.”
Her best friend. I wondered what he’d died from. Cancer maybe?
“Are you ready to go, darlin’?” I asked. She nodded and turned her back on the dead deer.
“How’d you find the deer?” I asked conversationally.
She looked like her mind had taken her somewhere she didn’t want to be, and I didn’t want her to have to think about that if I could help it. Why I cared was beyond me, but irrational or not, if I could help her, I would.
“My daddy. He taught me everything he knew. He used to be an Army Ranger. He taught me how to track. Shoot. Protect myself. Any knowledge he had to give, he taught to me,” she smiled.
Opening the door, I gestured with my hand for her to get in. She looked up, hiked up her skirt, and started to climb in.
I was going to hell.
I just sat there and watched as she climbed in; her white satin skin flashed as she hoisted her leg onto the step. I didn’t help a bit.
I was enjoying the show too much to offer assistance.
Once she was settled, I slammed her door, walked around the car, and adjusted my crotch before I hauled myself into the Jeep. Starting the vehicle, I pulled onto the highway and made a U-turn into the direction she’d once been going. “Why didn’t you just shoot her?”
She looked at me as if I was stupid. “What exactly is a twenty two pistol going to do? That’d just irritate her and make her run from me. I wanted to finish the job, not exacerbate it.”
I grinned at that comment.
She was right.