For three days it followed...
|A white V-W Rabbit, illegally parked, waited for Charles outside Dodgers stadium, its engine running.
He ran to the car, got in and shut the door hard. “Drive,” he said and leaned forward to examine the sky out the front window.
“Charlie, what is your deal? You remind me of that guy in Goodfellas.”
“Please drive!” Charles said. He now turned to study the sky out the back window.
“What the fuck, Charlie?”
“Please Pam… just…” he turned forward again. “I’m a little tense right now.”
“A little tense, Charlie? Let me tell ya something. You aren’t tense. You're a fucking Chihuahua on crack. You’re like that guy in Goodfellas! Or was it Goodfellows?”
The car began moving and Charles put his head back against his seat rest. “You would not believe my day!”
“I think it was Goodfellas.”
“Jesus, God,” Charles said. He closed his eyes and took several slow breaths in through his nose and out through his mouth.
They drove for a few moments in silence. Then, “You need a drink, my brother. You really, really do.”
She saw Charles twisting his lower lip and his foot keeping time to some sort of acid rock music only he could hear.
“Maybe you should take one of those pills they give you when you get like this,” Pam suggested. “Do you have any of those pills? You should take a few of them now. Like, maybe twelve.”
Charles didn’t reply and they drove for several more blocks in silence. The traffic was heavy. Headlights started to come on around them as it grew darker.
“Take the freeway,” Charles said. “Here, here, West! Go west, onto the freeway!”
“West? Where are we going, Charlie?”
“We’re going west.”
“Okay, Chuck, we’re going west. What are ya thinking? Get a little spread of your own and settle down? Huh? Is that the plan here, cowboy?” She jabbed her elbow playfully into his shoulder. “Raise a few head of beef-cattle?”
Despite himself, Charles let out a tired laugh.
Pamela smiled over at him. “Finally!” she said. “I couldn’t take much more.”
“Pam, there has been a drone following me for the last three days straight!”
“Well, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t, Flying Saucer-boy!”
“Laugh all you want, Pamela. And thank you so very much.”
Pamela tightened her lips and concentrated on the freeway.
“You don’t believe me…”
“I believe you.”
“I ditched it today. No doubt about it. I mean, there’s no way it could have followed me today.”
“Where’s your car?”
“Ventura? How’d you get to Dodger Stadium?”
“The train doesn’t go to Dodger Stadium--”
“I went by train to the train station, then to LAX.”
“The train doesn’t go to LAX--”
“I took a cab from the train station to LAX and then another one to the stadium! Jesus, Pamela! Please! You’re worse than Doctor Tine!”
“You still seeing him?”
“You’re thinking of McFadden. Tine is new.”
“Jesus, Charlie, you change shrinks like socks. Did you tell this Tine about the drone?”
“Yes. He told me to come in Saturday.”
“So you’re going six times a week now?”
“Four. Do we have to talk about this?”
“Yes! Did you tell him about the other?”
Charles stared out his side window, again searching the sky.
“Did you tell him about the flying saucers?”
“Flying saucer! There was one flying saucer, Pamela. One flying saucer!”
“Did you tell him about it?”
“Don’t you think you maybe should? You have to let these people help you.”
“I know, Pam. I know.”
They were silent now. Not angry, just quiet. Letting it rest. The radio was on KFWB, Neil Young singing Southern Man. Charles was still gazing up at the black sky out his passenger window, but his heart was no longer racing and his red sneakers were at rest.
Until it all changed.
“Oh, Jesus!” He whispered. Then, in a panicky scream, “Pull over!”
Pamela saw her brother’s hands fumbling to unbuckle his seatbelt. Now he was reaching for the steering wheel! His door came partly open and she could hear the whooshing of fast air and could feel the wind in the car as the tires began to crunch over gravel. The car slid to a stop on the side of the freeway. A semi went by sounding like a freight train with his horn blaring. Dust swirled, pebbles hit the side of her car, and her brother was gone from the passenger seat. Pamela lifted her legs over the consul and slid out the same door. She caught a glimpse of Charles leaping over the guard rail and then he was gone from view down a steep, brush-torn hillside.
Pamela ran to the spot her brother had disappeared from and saw that the hill ended at a high-school football field. The sprinklers were on and she could see Charles running at a dead sprint through the high-arching spray. She wanted to call to him, but there was no way he could hear her now. “My God,” she was thinking. “You poor, poor man!” and made a vow to get Charles into a hospital first thing tomorrow morning.
Then she saw it. A small piercing yellow light sweep down out of the night sky to follow behind her brother. The light cut left when he cut left. Then it began zigging, zagging as he was doing. “Charlie!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. She could just barely see him now, her poor little brother, running as fast as he could through the wash of sprinklers. She watched until he was swallowed up in the night and only the bright light was left, still zigging and zagging and getting farther away across the field until it too was gone.