Copyright © 2010 Scott Leddy
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The wind whipped through the autumn chill with grim determination as the Pebble Beige 1996 Corolla zipped down the deserted highway. The dark stretch of road appeared unpopulated due to the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities. Most of the travel-goers had already reached their destinations days earlier. This wasn’t the case for Dennis Haggerty, the driver of this old rust bucket, and his passenger, Rodney Darnell. Midterms had run late this year, preventing the two young men from making an early academic departure.
Denny, as his friends affectionately called him, and Rodney were languidly advancing towards Denny’s girlfriend, Becky Anderson’s house, in Litchfield County, for the Thanksgiving celebration. Becky’s mom, an accomplished chef, had promised to prepare an exquisite banquet. The two matriculating New York University undergraduates, accustomed to feasting the spoils of bland dorm food and vending machine fodder, were looking forward to dining on some of her good old-fashioned home-style cooking.
Both students, members of the famed University’s Film and TV program, looked the part of aspiring directors. Black tee shirts, jeans, Converse sneakers and baseball caps comprised their ensemble. Of course, Rodney sported a ridiculous goatee.
Midterms had been a killer this go-round. The two’s collaboration, an independent film on global warming, had gone over well with their professor, and both young men were in the mood for celebrating.
Though they were determined to leave their mark on this world, so far, Rodney’s only claim to fame was his connection to Jimmy Hoffa, the now-deceased Teamster Union chief, who was a long-distant relation, while Denny had worked as an intern on MTV for a summer. The pay sucked, but the experience was worthwhile.
“Dude, did you bring that CD I like? You know, the Best of The Band?” Rodney asked, breaking a long silence.
“What kind of question is that? You know I never leave the dorm without it,” Denny replied.
Rodney flipped up the center console and sifted through the secret stash of CDs.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” he shouted, grabbing for the elusive CD. “Put on track 11 and pump up the volume.” Denny scratched his head then palmed his stubble.
“Dude, that song so rocks!” Rodney said.
Seconds later, The Band’s The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down blared through the distorted speakers as the two students crooned eagerly along to the lyrics.
Fog and torrential downpours obscured New England’s usual picturesque fall palette of rich crimsons and vibrant ambers, and movement along Interstate 84 slowed considerably.
“Do you know where we’re going?” Rodney asked with concern, turning down the music.
“Hell yeah! I’ve been to Becky’s house many times. For Pete’s sake, we’ve been dating for almost two years now. You’re really going to get along well with Becky’s uncle, Chet.”
“A film connoisseur?” Rodney asked.
“No...gay!” Denny burst out in laughter.
While reaching for a blunt in the ashtray, before Rodney had time to offer a lengthier retort, a commotion up ahead distracted Denny’s attention. A plethora of flashing strobe lights slowed freeway traffic further.
Rodney toked up.
“You better put that out ASAP, if you don’t want to spend the night in the local hoosegow,” Denny threatened, glancing at the roach dangling from his friend’s parched lips.
Noticing the police cruiser in the distance, Rodney rolled down the window and quickly tossed the illegal substance into the shoulder, allowing an influx of cool air to hide the suspicious scent.
An intimidating state trooper flagged down the rust bucket.