Christmas Day 1999, Small Town, USA.
I grew up in a sleepy little town. The town was on one side of the road and the railroad tracks owned the other side. The population was around 1500 back then. Everyone knew each other or they knew your “people”. More than once a complete stranger would ask me if I was a Glassco. Our dark eyes weren’t easy to forget.
I left my home in 1998. I moved to the city. I couldn’t be there anymore after the death of my boyfriend. I needed a new start. I came home often. I missed my family and friends. I loved Nashville though.
I was home for Christmas. I had gone to a late movie that night with a friend. I was in the next town. I left the movie theater and dropped my friend off. There wasn’t anyone in town. It was unusually warm from what I remember. It was sometime after 11pm. I had my sunroof open and my windows down. I was in my world where it was safe. I got caught by every red light in town. I’d sit there enveloped in one of my daydreams. That was until I stopped at the next red light.
I noticed a car coming to a stop on my right. It was the first car I’d seen on the four lane road since I left the movie. I glanced over out of habit. There were four guys in the car. One looked familiar. I waved at them. It’s something I do. It’s common in the sticks to give a finger wave to the complete stranger that you meet on the roadway. It’s just a country thing I guess.
I quickly realized I didn’t know any of these guys. They started yelling. I politely smiled as the light turned green. I got to the next light and of course it turned red. They were beside me. They kept yelling at me to pull over. I shook my head and said no. I rolled up the windows. The light turned green and I drove. The yelling continued as we drove to the next light. This time when the light caught us my stomach turned. The driver was hanging out of the window. He yelled “Pull the Mother F*ckin car over now.” I held my breath. I could see movement out of the corner of my eye. The passenger in the back pulled a gun from his jacket and waved it around as he ordered me to pull over.
This is the part where I realized what it meant to “bring a knife to a gun fight”.
I look at the red light and floored my brand New Plymouth Neon. I closed the sunroof and then put both hands on the steering wheel. I had the pedal to the floor. I knew I was in trouble. I know cars. They had a much bigger engine and they would catch up quickly. They flew up beside me. I topped the hill at 120 mph. That was as fast as she would go. Did I mention this was a 30 mph zone? I prayed to get pulled over or see another car. All I saw were tail lights as they blew past me.
I knew what was coming. They were going to force me to stop.
They got over in my lane and hit the brakes and locked it up. The rear end of their car went left the right. When the rear end went left again the car turned sideways in front of me. I had let off the gas to anticipate their next move. They were sideways so I put the pedal to the floor and hit the turn lane. The driver couldn’t correct the spin. The car wrapped around a telephone pole as I watched and flew past them. I couldn’t breathe.
I did 120 mph for the next 7 miles. I was terrified that they were coming after me. I wasn’t rational. The car was demolished. I went straight to the police station but no one was there. I went home. I stayed in my car for and hour. I was shaking. I wouldn’t go inside until I knew my family was safe.
I laid there in the dark the rest of the night. I finally closed my eyes at first light. Things like this weren’t suppose to happen close to home. I didn’t know these guys. Why did they want to hurt me? I was a good person. I even felt bad that I left them in the wreckage. They pulled a gun on me. They wanted to kill me or worse. Christmas Day has never been the same. The magic is lost for me. He could have pulled the trigger at the red light. I was 22 years old. Bad things happen and open your eyes to the depravity of some. I got lucky one Christmas night. My gift was life. I drove like hell to keep it.