The Rolling of Tires

Some of the things we all did as a kids were less than desirable.

The following story is one of several things that I should try to forget, but can not.

I hope that the others involved have no less remorse than I do.

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The Rolling of Tires

         The other night, I woke, sitting straight up in bed as awake as if I had been injected with a double espresso. I reached for my dream as if I was clutching a rope that was slipping through my hands, and my grip was helpless to stop it. My mind could do nothing to prevent this slipping away of whatever the images were that had brought me upright in bed, and the harder I struggled with this task the fainter the images became. They were gone and all that was left was a faint feeling that I had been there, but where. It was an anxious feeling that made my heart beat as if I had been running hard for a long time, and I was damp all over with perspiration. Then I could hear the foot steps and heavy labored breathing. They were close, and getting closer, but I still could see nothing. I could smell something distinct, something familiar. The odor was dark and shadowy like night time rolling down a steep tree lined street. That was it. It all came back in one curling wave that washed over me gently stilling my pounding heart and bringing about a warm comfortable feeling. The comfort was not so much in the memory, but in the fact that I had remembered. It seemed like memories out of a past life, faint and a little out of focus at first, but they got stronger and more defined as I sat there shivering in my dark room.
         It all started with a movie. The three of us had gone to a movie. I remember that I sat in the middle between Dennis and Mike, and the movie was about the Civil War. We had gone to the first of two evening showings and we watched the cartoon a second time and then left to roam around the dark streets of our small town like boys in their early teens will often do. We walked up the steep three blocks of High Street that led to our neighborhood, and we were nearly to the top when we saw it lying on the edge of Mr. Walter's driveway. It was a tire, wheel and all, probably off his red and white Chevy Impala. It seemed to glow gently there in the shadows of the still night, as we walked by reminiscing about the movie. I can't remember who's idea it was first, but we all agreed that it would be a fine sight to see it rolling down the steep hill toward town. We quickly snatched it up, rolled it quietly to the crest of the hill, and without any ceremony launched it with a hard push straight down the middle of the steep street. It went smoothly at first and then as it picked up speed and rolled over a few small rocks in the street, it began to bounce. Faster and faster it went, but it never veered from the middle of the road. At the half way point it was bouncing wildly, maybe three or four feet at a bound and traveling as fast as if it were attached to a car with the gas peddle to the floor. At the second cross street it passed just a few feet behind a car whose driver never new how lucky he was. The tire shot through another intersection like an unguided missile and headed for the traffic on Main Street. It was only then that we considered the inevitable. It seems funny now that it never dawned on us that this seemingly benign tire would do anything but finally come to rest quietly on it's side like we found it, but that was not to be. Main Street came too quickly, and the taxi cab sitting at a red light was paralyzed. The driver saw it coming all right, but he could do nothing. The tire, wheel and all, hit the cab in the rear door right behind the driver, caving in the door and protruding well into the back seat where it stuck fast.
          "Wow! That was cool", is all we could say as we stood there frozen by the sight of what had just transpired. The driver of the taxi reacted quickly, made a right turn with the light still red and headed up the hill in our direction about as fast as the tire had gone down. Without a word we split up and headed in three different directions down side streets and alleys with our hearts pounding like snare drums. As I headed down the side street I could hear the taxi's engine loose Rpm's as the driver shifted into second gear. I could also hear the sound of metal scraping where the fender had been pushed into the rear tire from the impact, and I could only hope that this might slow him up a bit. I looked back just in time to see the taxi turn the corner onto the side street that I had headed down. I suddenly felt all alone with only my adrenaline for company. As the car closed in on me I knew that the street was no place to be, so I turned off and scrambled across someone's front yard and into their driveway. The taxi pulled up with a screech. The tire that had stuck in it's side was gone, perhaps rolling back down High Street toward town. The driver jumped out with a yell for me to stop. With out any hesitation I ran between the small garage and the house and into the back yard. The yard was small and heavily planted, and the darkness made it impossible to pick a good route. I just ran stumbling for the back end of the yard and hoped for an opening. The driver was close, I could hear him breathing, I could almost feel him breathing. There was a sound of breaking branches and then the sound of a thud and a muffled grunt as he hit the ground behind me. That might be it, the time I needed. Then I hit the fence. It didn't give much, but neither did I. I jumped as high as I could and scrambled like a cat on a screen door for the top. I could hear the taxi driver muttering as he got up from the ground and sprang for the fence. I reached the top and tried to swing myself over when I felt a tug on my pant leg. It wasn't much, but it was just enough to throw me off balance, and losing my grip I went down. I found myself on the opposite side of the fence, but the driver was all ready half way up the other side. I ran at the fence as hard as I could, hitting it with my shoulder right where he was climbing. It worked, he lost his grip and fell back into the yard with a curse. He jumped back up and re-mounted the fence with even more perseverance than before. My body block to the fence had knocked me off my feet as well, and as I scrambled back up, my hands suddenly grasped a stick about three feet long and an inch or so in diameter. Without even a thought I shoved the stick through the fence, catching the taxi driver in the stomach. He let out a sound that was more air than anything and collapsed back into a large honeysuckle bush with a crunch of braking branches and one last curse. I didn't even look back, I just ran across the narrow alley and into the adjoining back yard, through to the front, across the next street and into another yard. As I reached the side of the house I finally looked back to a quiet empty street with one lone house cat poised like a statue near one edge wondering what had run by in such a hurry. I disappeared around the back of the house and made my way through several side yards until I felt I had put enough distance between myself and the taxi driver, and then I collapsed under a very large shrub and listened as the pounding of my heart slowly subsided to where I could once again hear the soft sound of the quiet evening.

 

Copyright 2007. Ed Gnaedinger.