THE ROAD HOME
[[[[[ I was a beautiful young debutante. My face glowed radiantly as I glided across the stage
to accept my bouquet of roses. Everyone in the audience was clapping--a standing ovation . . . for
me? I singled out my parents sitting there in the front row. They were beaming with pride. 'That's our
daughter!' they announced to all. Yes, their daughter, the first black debutante from Tonganoxie,
Kansas. Cameras clicked and flashed. Millions of them, it seemed. FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!
Everyone wanted to get a picture of this lovely black child poised elegantly on stage in the white
sequined dress her mother had made especially for this occasion. FLASH! FLASH! FLASH! . . .
Then, just as suddenly as the action had begun, it stopped. The stage had darkened. The cameras
stopped flashing. The applauds from the audience ceased. The entire room fell silent. Puzzled by
the sudden change of events, I looked out at my parents. A single ray of light . . . from somewhere
played across their faces. They were the only two left in the auditorium. Hey! where did everybody
go? My once-smiling mother now looked so sad. She had tears in her eyes. What had suddenly
gone wrong? My father sat stoically beside her, his hands clutching protectively around her trembling
shoulders. "It's time to go home now, Rachelle," my mother softly mumbled as she dabbed at a tear
with her handkerchief. "It's time to head home." ]]]]]
BOOOOOOOOM! Startled, I jumped out of my dream. BOOOOOOOOOM! FLASH! FLASH! CRACK! BOOOOOOOOM! Another violent round of lightning bolts and thunder claps had again interrupted my sleep. I jerked myself up into a sitting position. Was it morning already? I could make out images inside of my car because of the light . . . Oh, my God, the light! The headlights! I spun around and saw the dark shadow rapidly approaching my car. Just as I'd done before, I quickly turned the key in the ignition and set the wheels in a rapid spin, darting out onto the highway just as the man's hand grazed the passenger side door.
Hot tears streamed down my face as I sped off into the lonesome, oblivious night. Who is this man? And what does he want from me? Where am I, damnit! Except for his car and mine, I hadn't seen any other vehicle out on the road. Not one! Where was everybody? Granted, I didn't expect to find a whole fleet of cars out on a leisure drive in the dead of night in this weather, but come on! Not even one? I needed help, and there was no one in sight! What WAS this place?
My car skidded and fishtailed. I firmly gripped the steering wheel, trying to wrestle the two tons of steel. I glanced down at the dashboard. It was 4:30 a.m., and here I was flying down the road at 95 miles an hour. I must be insane! What was I doing? I'm running from some man I didn't even know. And for what? What had I done to him? Who WAS he? . . . Why don't I just stop the damned car and confront the jerk? I tried reasoning with myself, and demand to know who the hell he is and what the hell he wants with me! . . . But no, I was much too scared to risk such a brazen feat. All I wanted was to be rid of him, whoever he was. I wanted to be home where I could be safe, dry, and warm. But where was home? I didn't even know that. What was my problem? Did a brick, unbeknoweth to me, suddenly fall from the sky and knock the sense out of me? Was I suffering from amnesia?
I put a little more pressure on the gas pedal. 100 miles per hour. There's bound to be an exit or something up ahead. This road couldn't go on forever, could it? I could feel the tires slipping and sliding underneath me as the car raced dangerously over the wet pavement. The car skidded far to the left, forcing me to struggle to regain control of the wheel.
105. I checked my rearview mirror. No! It couldn't be! I slammed the steering wheel with my fists. I could see his headlights a brief distance behind me! It wasn't possible! How could he have gained on me so quickly? What did he want from me?
110. I had to lose him. I had to!
120. I fishtailed right, then left. I continued to struggle with the wheel. The faster I drove, the closer the headlights appeared in the mirror. What in the hell was going on? I was crying so profusely now that tears were obscuring my vision. I frantically switched the windshield knob to full force. 'A lot of good that did, you moron!' I chastised myself, being that the heaviest water works were occurring right here inside the car!
I began to skid and fishtail like crazy. I'd never driven this fast before, not even on dry, sun-drenched pavement. I didn't dare slow down, fearing that if I even barely applied my brakes, I would really skid out of control. And besides, that maniac behind me was ever so rapidly closing the gap between us, even at these speeds! 'Dear God,' I began to pray . . .
Just then, the car hit a deep pocket in the road. Before I had a chance to react, my hands flew off the steering wheel and the car spun out of control, flipping over on its side, veering off to the right straight toward a thicket of pines. I made an attempt to shield my face as my car slammed head on . . .