“One more, come on Tanvi, just one more!” I glowered at Niki as she grabbed two more Budweiser cans from the bartender’s hand. “Niki, seriously? I have already had three beers in the past hour, you know I have to drive.” She beamed back at me as she took a swig of the liquid courage. “Ok, let’s leave after this beer. We are only 10 minutes away from home, we will be fine.”
This was our usual weekend routine; me being the responsible one, and Niki being the wild one. Niki was my best friend from college. I had met her on the first day of tennis practice. We were both the new freshman on the varsity team; we bonded immediately. The back and forth hitting of the tennis ball turned into the back and forth hitting of shots. We used to go out all the time, but the reality of being a grownup had set in, and I wasn’t into getting trashed on the weekends anymore.
A buzz rattled along my chest, I pulled my phone from my bra. I looked down at my phone, a text message from Utsav popped up. “Hey babe, I hope you’re having fun. Text me when you’re headed home. Love you.” I glanced up and saw Niki dancing the night away. Her right hand held her beer high in the air as her left hand circled around the nearest guy’s neck. I texted Utsav back, “thanks, I’m having fun. I think we are headed home soon.” I tucked my phone back into my bra along with the cash for the bartender.
Truth is, I wasn’t having fun. I wanted to be snuggled up on the couch watching Friends re-runs with Utsav. I paid our tab at the bar, grabbed Niki by the arm, and yanked us out of there.
Niki wobbled in her 7 inch heels as she clicked clacked her way to the car; the sound only stilettos would make. I stared down at her feet as I silently thanked myself for the flats I had on. I had given up the stiletto game long before tonight, comfort was my best friend.
I could tell Niki had one too many drinks. “You’re going to throw that beer away before we get in the car, right?” I could tell Niki was annoyed, “Tanvi, relax. I’m not going to dump out a beer that is ¾ full. It’s fine.”
I stuck my key in the ignition, the engine rattled, and just like that, we were on the road – headed home.
Niki was thumbing through the playlist on Spotify when I noticed red and blue lights flashing behind me.
I thought I was ok to drive, but I knew that the law would probably think otherwise. “Jeez, Niki, there is a cop behind me!” Niki looked in the rearview mirror, “Oh, um, just pull over right here. I’m sure it’s just your tail light out or something.” I pulled onto the shoulder of the service road. “Niki, you need to chug the rest of that beer – then hide the bottle. Now!”
I glanced back into my rearview mirror, the only thing I could see were the bright lights flashing behind me. Suddenly, we hear a voice blaring through a megaphone, “Put your phone down. Turn off the car. Put your hands in the air, and don’t move.” I glanced at Niki as panic set in, “Niki, if they make me blow, I’m going to jail tonight.” She slipped the beer bottle into the back pocket of the seat behind her, “I’m sorry I got us into this Tanvi. I’m so sorry.” I took a deep breath, “Look, if I get taken in tonight, call Utsav and let him know where I’m at. He should be able to bail me out.” Niki looked back at me with worry in her eyes.
I saw the cop standing to the left of my window, his arm stuck out as his knuckle tapped my window. I rolled down the window, and a big bright light shined into my face. “Where do you ladies think, you are headed tonight?” I tried to stay calm as I answered, I didn’t want him to have any reason to be suspicious, “Hi officer, we are actually just headed home.” The cop still had the spotlight shining in my face, “Yeah? Where do you live?” I had both hands resting on the steering wheel, I took a deep breath to remain calm, “I live about 5 minutes away. Just down this service road, you’ll take a left and then a sharp right.”
The cop shifted his weight from his left foot, back to his right foot as the light from his flashlight blinded me. “What about your friend, there?” Niki shifted in her seat, I could tell she was nervous as well. “She is actually staying with me tonight, officer.” The cop had an unsettling look in his eyes as he stared us down.
“You know, you girls shouldn’t be out this late. Some kind of sick pervert might get you.” The cop let out a raspy laugh as he enjoyed his own joke. As he laughed, I noticed his teeth were disgusting, crooked and yellow. “We were just trying to get home, officer.” I repeated, hoping we might get out of blowing.
The cop peered his flashlight into the car, shining his light in Niki’s face, “You girls been drinking tonight?” Niki’s flushed cheeks and glossed over eyes had given us away, “I’m the designated driver, officer.”
The cop glared down at me with a grimace on his lips, “You’re lying to me. I don’t like liars…” My heart started pounding against my rib cage. Something felt off about this cop, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. “You girls are going to slowly get out of the car now, keep your hands in the air.” Niki and I slowly opened the car door, one foot hit the pavement, as the other foot followed, our hands remained steady in the air.
The cop took two steps back, flash light still blinding us, “Now, come over here to the side of the road.” Niki and I walked slowly to the edge of the road, one deep breath in, one deep breath out; hands still in the air. Niki stumbled over her heels as her drunk stance took over. “Hey! Now, no funny business!” I could see tears start to stream down Niki’s cheeks.
Why was this cop treating us like criminals?
I peered at the cop car to the left of us, red and blue lights still twirling in the air, except I noticed something that sent shivers up my spine.
It wasn’t a cop car.
Dread overcame me as I realized what kind of situation we had just gotten ourselves into.
“Well, well. You ladies look awfully nice tonight in those sexy little outfits.” Neither of us said a word, we just stood, scared, with our hands still in the air. The cop walked up to Niki, just a foot from her face. “How about you give me a little kiss, and I’ll let you go?” I cringed, I couldn’t bear to see this.
I remembered back to the warnings that I would always see being shared on Facebook, “If you see an unmarked cop car, do not pull over until you are in a well-lit, busy area.” You see these warnings, you hear about these things happening to other people, but you never think you’ll be in this type of situation. These sorts of things happen to other people – not me.
Niki stood with her hands in the air, unable to speak. “Aw, why the long face? You wouldn’t want me to have to arrest you, would you?” I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. I stood on the edge of the service road with my hands held in the air; not a single car had passed us. Shallow breaths escaped as I tried to think of a solution – anything to get us back into my car. “Excuse me, officer.” The cop kept his body aligned with Niki as his head turned towards me. “Can we please see your badge?”
The cop didn’t move, he just glared at me. He pulled a gun up towards my face and with four words, said, “Get in the car.”
I saw Niki start to cry in my peripheral vision. I didn’t know what to do, I had a gun pointed between my eyebrows. This clearly wasn’t a law-abiding citizen we were dealing with, this man wanted to hurt us.
The gun pointing at my head began to shake as the cop became impatient, “NOW!”
Niki and I walked to the back of the car, hands still in the air. The cop kept his flash light shining on us as he made his way to the front seat.
The backseat smelt like old cigarettes and mildew. The cop slammed his door shut and started the car. I laced my fingers with Niki’s, and whispered to her, “I promise we will get out of this, we are going to be ok.”
The engine of the old car revved up, and with a pop of the exhaust, we were on our journey to God knows where. I looked out the rear-view mirror and watched as my little car slowly faded out of sight. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare, I tried pinching myself to see if maybe I could do just that. How was this happening to us, and so easily at that? Why hadn’t I double checked the car that was pulling us over? Why hadn’t I pulled into a well-lit area? Millions of questions danced through my head as regret washed over me.
A vibrating sensation snapped me out of my sorrow. I realized I still had my phone one me, I prayed that this “cop” wouldn’t hear the rattling. Utsav was probably wondering where we were by now. I thought about pulling my phone out to try and text Utsav, but it was too risky. The light of the phone would be a dead giveaway. I tried to strike up a conversation with the deranged man to scuffle the sound of the phone.
“Why are you doing this to us?” The cop sat in silence as a grin spread across his face, “Because, you pulled over.”
It was this moment in time that I realized we were going to die if we didn’t leave this car. We had maybe 5 minutes left until we reached the main highway; it was now or never. I glanced at Niki. She wasn’t paying attention to me, she had snot running down her nose as pieces of her hair stuck to her tear soaked cheeks.
I bumped my foot into hers, and she slowly turned her head to mine. I looked back at the cop, his eyes were steady on the road. I looked back to Niki and pointed to her heel. I turned my palm over and wiggled my fingers.
Niki slid off her 7-inch stiletto. I used my foot to slowly bring it up to my hand. I glanced back up at the cop, eyes still steady on the road. I slowly looked back to Niki, and whispered in a hush voice, “Get ready.”
My sweaty palms clinched the arch of the shoe, my finger nails dug into the plastic of the sole. I had one chance to get him good, if I messed up – we were dead.
I lifted my right arm above my head, I could feel the burn in my shoulder the longer I held the shoe above my head. Visions of my college tennis days flashed in my head. One particular thing my coach had always told me during practice stuck out, “You need to hold the racket firm, use the strength from your abs, back, and shoulders to rotate your upper body as you pull through. All it takes is one smooth motion, Tanvi. You can do it!”
I kept repeating the mantra in my head, one smooth motion, Tanvi. You can do it. Use your whole upper body to pull through.
I took a few deep breaths and without hesitation, I rammed the end of the heel into the cop’s eye. The car swerved from left to right as the cop wailed. I looked back at Niki, she had a look of shock in her eyes. I looked back to the cop and saw her stiletto sticking out of his eye.
I yanked the handle, and the car door flew open, I jumped to the pavement and rolled. I felt like a balled-up sock in a washing machine. I could feel my brain rattling around as different parts of my body scraped against the pavement. With tattered clothes, and hair in my face, I peered down as bright red blood peeked through my skinned knees. The burning sensation grew as I sat, dumbfounded on the road. It took me a second to re-gain my focus.
I looked up and saw Niki squirming to get to the door I had opened, she was almost out of the door when I saw the “cop” turn around and grab her by her hair. Her eyes shot back as she looked her captor in the eyes. With a hard tug, Niki was dragged back into the car. I winced and looked at the road behind me, then back to the car that held my dear friend. I took a deep breath, and ran as fast as I could all the way home without looking back.
I pulled my phone out as I approached the driveway. I had 3 texts from Utsav and a missed call, I’m sure he was worried. I brushed through my hair with my fingers, flattened out my shirt, and dabbed away some of the blood with the inside of my skirt.
I entered through the front door and Utsav came rushing over to me. “Tanvi, where is Niki? Where is your car?” I remained calm and looked up at Utsav, “Niki got pulled over. She ended up getting a DUI, so I had to walk back home.”
Utsav reached his hand out to mine, “Oh, she should have known better than to do something so stupid. Does she need help making bail?” A slight grin escaped my lips, “No, this will be her third one, so I think she has to stay for a while.”
Niki had always had a thing for Utsav. I wasn’t dumb, I knew what was happening between them. It wasn’t long before that flirtatious smile turned sexual. Neither of them knew that I had stumbled upon their secret. It really wasn’t hard to find out what was going on by the way they acted together. I could feel the chemistry radiate through the air – like I was the third wheel. Utsav was going to be all mine now.
I laid in bed staring at the ceiling. I didn’t have to worry about Niki anymore – that is, until I heard footsteps making their way up the staircase – to my bedroom. One foot thudded as the other clicked – only the sound a stiletto would make.
Next blog will be out soon.Desai Thoughts MEdia.
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