Facing the jersey barrier, the speedometer hit eighty. I was in the passenger seat, hands clasped, praying to my namesake. My friends in the back begging me to grab the steering wheel. Karl’s face turned into a caricature of an evil mastermind realizing his plans for armageddon.
I had never driven a car before, nevermind wrestled a steering wheel from a clearly insane man, but fuck it. I grabbed the wheel pushed it to the left. The immovable concrete screeched against the door inches to my left.
We were now in traffic. It was the first times John or Kai had worn seat belts in years. It was the first time I had driven a car. In the passenger side, no less. Karl was mad. He was mad that my girlfriend wouldn’t sleep with him. He was mad that money couldn’t buy friends. Quite frankly, he was a madman.
“This is what happens when I’m mad!” He shouted. I noticed a rest area ahead. Made for sleeping truckers, I’m still convinced the patron saint of hung-over idiots put it there for us. I grabbed the wheel and pulled it to the right. He didn’t fight it. We made it to the truck stop.
The sky was blue that day. Clear, puffy white clouds, surrounded by trees by the side of the highway. As beautiful as a near death experience could be I suppose.
Karl stopped the car, and in true Mad form, he took his pipe and ran into the woods.
“Let’s start walking” said John. John came from a lineage of independent business men. I was great at getting into and out of trouble. This was mostly because I had people like John around. We listened.
Walking down the highway for miles, Kai, the resident goofball and magician begged to stop for water. I, the engine behind adventure weighed the pros and cons. John, with a head on his shoulder said we wouldn’t stop until we got home. We listened, put together enough between the two of us for a pack of second rate cigarettes.
The next day I got sober.