The red tail lights seemed to fade in the distance leaving the family with only sporadic drivers here and there who zoomed passed them. It was almost as if that stretch of freeway was theirs, driving through the blackness of night. A new job in Dallas, Texas awaited Kenneth and his small family – his wife Linda and three children. They had driven the first five hours across Texas and had five more to go. Savannah, the youngest of the three was the only one awake with Mommy and Daddy at 1a.m.
Linda leaned slightly into the driver seat pointing through the front windshield. “Maybe we can exit up here, Babe.”
“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.
Kenneth took the dismal exit to a red light. He stayed in the left lane to make a left turn. A truck, something like an F150 stopped along their right side. Just as the light turned green and Kenneth pressed the gas pedal, the truck cut them off, making a left turn directly in front of them.
Kenneth swerved. “What the hell?”
Linda gasped, gripping the middle console and the door handle for stabilization.
The truck sped out of sight. They eyed a mom and pop store – the only thing on the road beaming with white light. Kenneth pulled into the parking lot. His eyes darted from one side of the bleak building to the other. Not a soul in sight.
“Linda,” He glanced at her. “I dunno about annah using the bathroom here.”
“Yeah, I know,”
“Hey,” Kenneth stared out of his window. “Isn’t that the truck that cut us off?”
Linda looked. “Mmm, I can’t tell – I didn’t notice the color of the truck when we got off the…”
“You didn’t see the driver put that hood over his head?” He started the car and burned rubber taking off.
“One put a hood on?” Linda wrinkled her nose.
“You didn’t see that KKK hood?” He asked, like a mad man.
“Oh shoot, they followin’ us!” Kenneth announced after glancing in the rear view mirror.
“What?” Linda’s voice rose a pitch higher.
“You don’t see ’em?”
“I can’t see anything – it’s so black out there.” Linda turned toward the back seat. “You gotta hold it baby, okay? Just a little while – go on to sleep.”
Savannah nodded twice and leaned her head to one side in the car seat and closed her eyes.
Linda faced Kenneth, still holding on to her security objects. His fingers fumbled for his phone in the cup holder.
“Here, call the police!”
Linda dialed the nine but then her thumb hovered over the phone as Kenneth swerved the car.
“We gotta ditch these red necks!”
Linda completed the dialing on the tail end of another swerve.
“Abilene Police Department…what’s your emergency?” A nasal tone announced.
“We’re traveling east bound on the I-20, just passed mile marker 171 – ” Linda began. “We’re being chased by two men in a truck…”
“What car are you driving?”
“A red Toyota Celica,”
“And what kind of truck are the men driving?”
“It looks like an F-150…”
“Do you know what color it is?”
“Maybe black or navy blue – we just passed mile marker 173.”
“Okay, are they still following you?”
Linda frowned. “I can’t tell – it’s so dark out here, one minute please…” She looked at Kenneth who kept the car in a straight line now. “Babe do you still see them?”
“It looks like that might be them back there…” Kenneth’s voice faded. “I think so.”
“Yes ma’am, we think they’re still following us.”
“Alright, you might want to try decreasing your speed a little so we can catch up to you. I’m sending out an officer right now.”
“Thank you.” Linda ended the call. “She said she’s sending an officer right out.”
“Good. But I think I ditched those sons a …”
“Shhh! The kids may not be asleep.”
The couple suddenly gasped at the pair of long ears in the headlights and the sudden collision jolted them forward and back again. Linda’s heart raced. Kenneth’s chest heaved as well.
“That was a jack rabbit!” He yelled. “Did you see the ears?”
“Yeah, I saw the ears – what’s that banging?”
They both glanced toward the right fender and noticed something flapping up toward the window with the constant, spinning tire.
“Eew, we’re draggin’ it Babe…it’s stuck to the tire!”
Linda noticed the bright, flashing red and blue lights in the mirror and Kenneth pulled to the shoulder of the road. The officer left his vehicle to speak to the couple.
“Looks like you hit one dem helenas.”
“One of those what?” Kenneth asked.
“lil wild pig…we have those out here.”
“No, we hit a jack-rabbit – we saw the ears. It’s stuck to the wheel over there.” Kenneth pointed to the right fender.
The officer walked over to take a look. “No, I don’t see no rabbit or a helena…’cept your linin’s come loose.”
“Of the fender…it’s hangin’…we can…” Just then, the officer ripped it from the wheel and tossed it to the side of the road. “Now what’s dis business ’bout you two bein’ followed?”
The officer listened intently to their story and eyed the highway up and down – searching for the criminals.
“Well, dere doesn’t seem ta be anybody in sight now. You folks want me ta wait wicha a while?”
“No, thanks” Kenneth chimed in. “I think they’re gone.”
“Alright then – y’all be safe.”
“Shoot, this is the south, Babe. Knowin’ these crackers out here, the cop might be one of ’em.” Kenneth told Linda as they drove off.
Linda took a deep breath and exhaled slowly – gradually calmed by the dramatic lightning show in the distance.