Sunday, March 6, 2011


He’s late; the speedometer read 70 mph. He jammed his foot on the brake as the light turned red. The traffic congestion stretched endlessly up ahead; trapped, he couldn’t exit the intersection. The call came in 15 minutes ago while in the middle of a business negotiation. It didn’t matter now whether he got the client or not, his primary objective was to get there on time. He had to keep his promise at all cost. The car’s engine revved, his heart raced and he flexed his fingers; his knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. The panic set in and he considered getting out of the car and running instead. Even if he ran, he couldn’t run fast enough to get to Bedford Medical Hospital.

As the light changed he stepped on the gas, flashing his hazard lights and honking the horn while swerving to avoid a collision with the other cars. Disgruntled drivers blasted their horns in retaliation. The silence of his cell phone screamed at him. His eyes fixed ahead, only veered to count the exits. He passed Exit 34; drops of sweat glided down his back, the ticker on his watch drumming the count of time. A few more miles left before he could exit and get on Main Street.

He prepared himself mentally by going over the Lamaze lessons. Traffic moved faster and he changed lanes; the speedometer climbed to 90 mph. A vintage Volkswagen Bug with blinking signals attempted to come into his lane. He stepped on the gas cutting off the Bug. Screeching of tires and the crunch of metal sounded behind him. With fixed determination, he plowed ahead without looking in the rearview mirror. He needed to remain focused. Exit 35 loomed ahead and he forcibly slowed down for the exit. He glanced at his watch; 18 minutes had passed since his Mother-in-law had called. Sally was in the first stages of labor. The fear of not making it in time pressed heavily against his chest.

He paid no heed to the wail of sirens that could be heard in the distance, as he turned into Main Street. Forced to reduce speed, he nevertheless continued his hasty journey to the hospital. Unyielding to others, he accelerated - the speedometer rising despite the 35 mph zone. Surging ahead he took shortcuts oblivious of the red traffic lights. The shrill resonance of sirens eventually gained his attention. He glanced at the rearview mirror; two squad cars were on his tail. Determined, he plowed onward intent upon keeping his promise to Sally. With her diabetes, complications could arise during the delivery. He couldn’t risk speaking to the police right now. A cab driver cursed and gestured menacingly when he was cut off at a left turn. Pedestrians scurried to the sidewalks to avoid being mowed down. All this he ignored; steeled single-mindedness had taken over. His only goal was to be with Sally. Tires screeched as he drove into a multi-level parking garage on Felton Street at full speed. The police close on his tail and sirens wailing, barged in behind him. The high speed chase continued up the circular drive of the parking garage.

Nearing the roof, he franticly looked for a way to lose them. Distracted he didn’t notice the Toyota that was pulling out until the last minute. He veered to the left; the Toyota stopped short, its driver howling. He surged forward, the side of his car scraping against two parked cars. The cops, almost upon him were delayed by the Toyota which continued to pull out of its parking spot and drive away. Once at the top he began his descent cruising faster on the way down. The underside of the car flashed sparks as he crashed through the barrier. Muffler dragging, he pulled in front of the hospital and flew inside. Desperation fueled him as he shoved people out of the way on his way to the elevators.

Once inside, nervous tremors assaulted him as he pressed the fifth floor button. He paced back and forth; the sluggish ascend of the elevator tormenting him. Like a mantra, he repeated to himself the Lamaze breathing technique he’d learned. Before the doors were fully opened, he bolted out of the elevator. Peering into rooms like a madman as he searched for Sally. A piercing howl urged him forward to the last room where Sally laid drenched in sweat, nurses prepping her for surgery. He embraced her; his eyes conveying apologies for his delay. He coached her as the gurney was wheeled into the operating room, her hands squeezing him in agony and fear. The doctors and nurses worked diligently, machines beeped and ticked, the oxygen hissed through the breathing mask but all this went unnoticed. They were focused on each other, eyes locked, as the incision was made. Tension waned with the wail that announced the child’s birth. Tears filled his eyes and his heart swelled with joy when the wrapped bundled was brought to him. Slowly, relief washed over him knowing Sally and his child were safe. Feeling calmer now because he had kept his promise, he returned the infant to the nurse.
The doors burst wide open, police officers flooding the room. His impotent attempt to flee was quickly subdued. Face down, pinned and handcuffed he was read his rights and the list of charges to the horror of his wife. Held at bay, the doctors and nurses could only watch mortified. The cackle of radios and chirping of phones dominated the room while the baby’s cry went unnoticed. Rough arms lifted him up and dragged him out of the room as he resisted, locking eyes with Sally. What he did, he did for her. He did it to keep his promise. With pain etched in her eyes and silent tears rolling down her cheeks, she mouthed I love you.

He’d spent three years in prison. Today was his daughter’s birthday, and he was running late.


  1. Hm, I wonder what he would do to anyone who gets on his path today...

    My heart was pumping with the tension of the first two paragraphs. There is something about a character, trapped in a small space and without control of the situation, that I like very much ;-)

    1. His personality is such that when he panics, he doesn’t have to be in a vehicle, he’ll mow anyone down to get to where he has to go. His heart was in a good place – the love, the loyalty – but I think that if he could’ve flown he would have and damn the poor birds, buildings, etc.

      As for his daughter’s birthday – I hope he got there without a hitch.