OFF THE BEATEN PATH
G. G. Baker
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental
For information contact: www.ggbaker.net
Published by Rivers Publishers
Book and Cover design by Rivers Publishers
First Edition: March 2015
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The shiny blue Porsche 911 exploded around the sharp bend in the highway like it was coming off the backstretch of the Indy 500. The Porsche was moving too fast in the early morning light for the driver to immediately grasp the scene that had just unfolded in front of him. The chaotic image was further clouded by a low hanging mist that drifted down the hillside and across the highway. The light mist coated the road with a wet sheen that merged with the oil left by the thousands of cars and trucks that traveled up and down the interstate every day. The deadly combination caused the Porsche to drift slightly to the left as the low profile tires fought to keep their hold on the slick surface of the highway. The driver had just corrected the loss of traction when a jolting realization made him stiffen in the leather seats and grip the wheel like he was going to tear it off of the steering column.
Out of pure instinct the driver threw his left foot hard against the clutch pedal and down shifted into the lowest gear that the screaming engine would allow him to slide the gear shifter into. At the exact same moment the driver's right foot connected with the brake pedal. What happened next derailed his brain like a high speed train coming off the tracks at over one-hundred miles per hour, which was almost as fast as the Porsche had been traveling as it rounded the bend in the road.
Something was seriously wrong. The brake pedal slammed hard against the floorboard of the sports car like the driver had stepped on a rotten peach and nothing changed. The Porsche was still screaming toward the scene at over eighty miles per hour. The driver pumped his foot frantically up and down on the brake pedal but the brake mechanism was now as useless as the radio knob in slowing the car. His brain shifted into full panic mode as he realized that he had no brakes, no plan, and nowhere to go.
The driver was staring in complete terror at the convergence of cars, trucks, buses, and emergency vehicles that looked like they belonged in a Hollywood disaster movie. Every vehicle in front of him was at a complete standstill due to a tanker truck that was laying on its side across all three lanes of traffic. Because the tractor-trailer rig was a tanker even the breakdown lanes were closed off to the normal trickle of traffic that slipped around the edges of accidents. The very real fear that the over-turned tanker carried a cargo that was both flammable and explosive only added to the heightened fear of every person within sight of the accident, even the cars in the Southbound lanes of the Interstate moved as far away from the accident as the highway would allow as they passed by.
The Porsche quickly closed the gap between the stagnant cars and the speeding sports-car and he was now close enough to the stalled traffic that his eyes fixed on a car directly in his path. There was a woman inside the car struggling to climb over the back seat of her sedan. She was attempting to free a small child from a car seat that was secured with the seat-belt on the rear passenger side of the sedan. The frantic mother had been watching in her rear view mirror when the Porsche had come sliding around the corner. She could tell that something was wrong when the approaching sports-car did not appear to be slowing even the slightest little bit. He could see the fear and panic in her eyes as she simultaneously fumbled with the car-seat and watched the sports-car bear down on her inescapable spot in the traffic jam.
The driver of the Porsche was now less than fifty yards from rear-ending the sedan when the he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Just behind and to the left of the traffic jam was a break in the guardrail and in less than a hundredth of a second he made the connection. He could tell that the gap in the guardrail was mangled and new and it was just wide enough for the Porsche to squeeze through. He was sure that the gap in the guardrail was either the cause of or the result of the tipped over tanker. He was not exactly sure what was on the other side of the gap but he had driven this stretch of I-5 enough to know that he was probably in for a pretty rough ride if he made it through the opening. The driver was sure that there was a drop-off on the other side of the gap, he just couldn't remember how much of a drop he was headed for.
His mind snapped back to the present as his death grip on the steering wheel jerked the Porsche hard to the left. On a dry stretch of road the Porsche would have responded to his steering command like the first car on a high speed roller coaster. The slick highway cost him just enough traction so that his right rear bumper grazed the left rear bumper of the sedan. The resulting impact threw the Porsche into another slight fishtail to the left. He corrected the best he could but the impact had pointed him just off center of where he needed to be to clear the hole in the guardrail cleanly. He fought hard to guide the out of control car toward the narrow gap in the guard-rail but it felt like he was barely in control of a two-thousand pound ice skate. when he reached the gap the left rear fender of the Porsche caught a nasty tangle of steel and wood that flipped the Porsche up in the air and into a lateral spin like it was a piece of meat on a rotisserie grill. The Porsche rolled over in the air five times before it came down hard on the passenger side roof of the car. The impact that the Porsche's roof made with the Highway only seemed to add the cars momentum as the car continued rolling over and over across the highway. The car came to rest on its roof on the other side of the South-bound lanes of I-5.
Much to the amazement of the traffic moving south out of Seattle at the sight of a blue sports-car flying through the air and landing in front of them. The people that stopped to help were even more amazed that the man upside down in the car seemed to still be alive.
Just before the driver slipped into unconsciousness he had two very different thoughts race through his mind. The first thought he had was that he was not going to see the gorgeous brunet at his health club this morning, a beautiful ex-model that he had spent five weeks persuading to have dinner with him last Friday night. And the second and more practical thought that run across his dazed mind was,
"This couldn't be happening, I just had new brakes installed last week."
The crowd of people that jumped from their vehicles and ran to the edge of the guard-rail where the Porsche had just launched from included the mother holding her small child, a dozen onlookers that couldn't believe what they had just witnessed and a man in a silver BMW that had pulled up to the scene just as the Porsche went through the guardrail.
The man in the BMW stared at the twisted wreckage on the opposite side of the highway as a crowd of people stopped their cars and hurried to see if the man had survived such a horrendous crash. The man wondered why they were in such a hurry to get to the mangled wreck, he was pretty sure that no one could have survived such an accident.
The man that had stepped out of the BMW was groomed to perfection and he was dressed from head to toe in designer clothes. Every hair was in place with one glaring exception that no one in the crowd of onlookers seemed to notice. The fingers of his right hand were smudged with an oily substance that had the reddish hue of brake fluid.
The man listened for a few moments without saying a word. He heard the full range of comments from the assembled crowd, everything from, "Damn Fool," from an overweight trucker in a pair of greasy overalls, to the woman clutching her baby who said faintly, "He's a hero." After he had seen all he needed to see the man turned and strolled back toward the BMW with a satisfied smile on his face. As he opened the car door and slid behind the wheel of the BMW he thought to himself, things had turned out better than he could have imagined.
Whiskey is for Sippin'
Kristin rolled her wedding ring back and forth between her thumb and her index finger. She could feel the smooth curve of the band and the sharp cut of the one carat diamond that was barely touching the tips of the fingers of her left hand. Her hand was dangling limply out the driver’s side window of the cherry red Mercedes Benz 600 SL. She was not afraid of dropping the expensive ring, In fact, she wished that a random bump in the road or a split second of inattention would allow the ring to slip from her fragile grasp and fall onto the old highway. She could see in her mind the next two or three hundred cars gradually forcing the glittering diamond deep into the charcoal black asphalt. Better yet, if she could muster the courage, she would hurl the ring across the highway, over the thick weeds and into the river that she was currently driving alongside.
Kristin had a vision of the ring hitting the surface of the water, slipping below the surface and slowly coming to rest on the bottom of the river. She laughed as she thought about one of the streams fishy inhabitants attacking the ring like it was a fisherman's lure, the world's most expensive fishing lure. In her mind she saw a comical scenario play out in her mind, A local fisherman would bring home the days catch to discover her seven thousand dollar diamond ring in its belly. Kristin could see the headline now, “Local fisherman makes one hell of a catch.”
She thought back to her wedding day when she had overheard one of her ex-husbands slimy lawyer buddies slur though his fifth scotch and soda, and remark with in a sleazy guttural tone, “Clarence, she's one a Hell of a catch.” She thought to herself with a sick ache in the pit of her stomach, “That is what I am, one hell of a catch. “
The irony made her laugh so hard that for a brief moment she completely forgot that she was on a stretch of highway that would not forgive even a moment’s inattention. She was shocked back to reality when she felt the passenger side tires of the sports car slip off the paved road and
connects with some loose gravel. The sharp realization made every muscle in her body over-compensate. Both of her hands gripped the wheel tightly and jerk it hard to the left. The Mercedes did exactly what she asked it to do, which meant that she was now headed straight for the bank of the river.
As she closed the gap between her and the river she gathered her wits and turned the car back across the road. The Mercedes reacted quickly just as the left rear tire dropped off the paved road and caught the gravel along-side the river. She did not look back in her rear view mirror until she was safely
back in her own lane and in complete control.
When she finally looked in her rear view mirror she knew exactly what would see, one set of tire marks had disappeared over the edge of the embankment for no more than ten to twelve inches.
Kristin felt something digging into the flesh of her left hand. She took her hand off the wheel and looked into her palm, the ring was still there. For some unknown reason she had held onto the ring, she did not know how or why. There was a drop of blood where the diamond clasps had pierced her skin. Kristin starred at the diamond and the drop of blood like they belonged together. Then almost as an afterthought she carelessly tossed the ring into the change holder on her console. She could still see the ring out of the corner of her eye, and even though she no longer was holding the ring she could still feel it burn into her skin.