Nice Guy (You’ve Got to Slow Down)
Brody stood holding his head looking at the carnage before him. The red ‘vett sat half-buried under the rough branches of a pine tree only steps away. Like the wail of a banshee, never pausing for a breath, the horn blared in one continuous scream under the mid-day sun.
“I need you to put your hands where I can see them!” yelled a woman’s voice to Brody’s right. He slowly turned around to face the officer standing behind her open cruiser door. She kept her gun leveled as she slowly worked her way towards him and the car.
As Brody slowly raised his hands to the top of his head, and glanced at the second officer pointing his firearm towards him, he couldn’t help but think back to how he had gotten himself into this mess. He had never been what people would call a saint, but this, this was bad.
“Listen,” she said as she lowered her head and stared at Brody’s shoes, “this isn’t going to work out. I think we had different things in mind when we hooked up last week.”
Brody stared at her as the words sunk in like setting cement. “What do you mean different things in mind?”
“I wasn’t looking for anything…permanent. It has nothing to do with you; I was just in a love’em and leave’em mood.”
“So what,” Brody accused, “It was Saturday night so that made it all right?”
“No that’s not what I meant. I mean, you’re fun and all, but I just can’t get into a real relationship with someone. Frankly, you really aren’t my type; you’re too nice for me. I can’t think of the last guy who actually called the next day; I’m just not in a place where I can do that right now.”
“Really…like that?” whispered Brody.
“Yeah, I guess like that.” She stated, brushing a stray strand of hair aside. “You are such a nice guy Bill…”
“Right, Brody, but you’re just not the kind of guy I usually see. You’re nice, and deserve better. I can’t give you what you want right now, I’m sorry. You need to find a love that’s gonna last. Please don’t hate me.” she said before softly closing the door.
Brody stood paralyzed; her words stung more than a slap in the face. As he stared at the closed door, he couldn’t help but wonder at her parting words. He was too nice. Always the story of his life, too nice. As he worked his way down the stairs his mind replayed all the losses in his life, the women, the jobs, the promotions, all lost because he was too nice, always giving up what he wanted for the good of those around him.
His stomach filled with bile as he remembered the last few days in her apartment, and the pictures of all the men that dotted her walls and furniture. All the jockeys who had been there before him; the pretty boys with the perfect hair, the perfect bodies, the perfect smiles, mixed with something dangerous in their eyes. These men lived on the edge and took what they wanted. “I guess that is what the difference is between me and those guys…they don’t ask, they take what they want…they take it. Screw the nice guys.”
Brody crossed the street, against the light, and headed into the 7-Eleven. The store was empty with the exception of a blonde picking through candy-bars and the stereotypical Middle-Eastern clerk behind the counter. Brody grabbed a pack of his favorite beer from the cooler, cracking one open as he headed for checkout.
“Sir, you cannot drink that until you have paid for it,” the clerk said in a heavy accent as he began scanning the blonde’s purchase, clearly annoyed.
“Well,” said Brody as he pushed past the woman, slamming his empty can on the counter. “How about you ring me up then, only for 5 though, this pack is missing a can.”
“Sir,” the clerk said, clearly upset, “you will have to wait until I am done with this customer, then I will ring you up for the whole pack.” Sensing the upcoming confrontation the blonde didn’t wait her turn and headed outside, keys in hand.
“Actually,” Brody stared straight at the clerk, “I think you will give it to me for free, and give me an extra hundred for my troubles.”
The clerk reached for the silent alarm under the counter. He had been robbed more times than he could count this year; the alarm was purely instinctual at this point. “Sir, I would like you to leave now. I have notified the police.”
Brody looked up in panic; he knew he had gone too far. Leaving the beer on the counter he bolted for the door. His car was parked back at the apartment. Was it just his imagination or did he already hear sirens in the distance?
Only a few steps away, the blonde fumbled with her keys trying desperately to unlock her little red corvette before Brody could harm her. He knew there was only one chance to get away, and in a few quick steps he had reached the open car door.
“Move over baby and gimme the keys!” he shouted.
“Puh, Puh, Please don’t hurt me. You can have the car, but please don’t hurt me.”
Brody grabbed the keys out of the blonde’s hand, a little harder than he intended, and pushed his way past her into the car. The engine roared as it came to life. A steady stream of smoke spewed from the tires as he threw the car in reverse and spun in a half circle to face the street. He put it in first and looked up in time to see her at the corner. They locked eyes as he squealed out of the lot and onto the street.
“We’re gonna party like it’s 1999,” sang Brody’s phone has he sped through the red light two blocks away. Looking down, her picture stared at him from the caller ID. “What!?” He snapped placing the phone to his ear.
“What are you doing?! They said you robbed the place!”
“I don’t know…something stupid I guess.”
“I would say so,” she said, her voice trembling. “You’re going much too fast, you have to slow down.”
Brody hung up the phone and concentrated on the road. The needle passed 95 as he sped through another intersection.
“We’re gonna party like it’s 1999.”
“We’re gonna party like it’s 1999.”
“We’re gonna party like it’s 1999.”
His phone chirped once, twice, three times, as text after text came in. All from her.
The sirens were clear now. In the rearview Brody could see the flashing red and blue of two cruisers behind him. His mind raced on ways to get out of this. Maybe if he stopped now they would go easy on him. Then again, he had stolen a car and attempted to rob a store, jail for sure if he was caught. Brody’s phone chirped again. Letting go of the stick he reached for his phone and read the latest message. “U’ve got to slow down, U're gonna run your little red corvette right in the ground.”
Brody looked up just in time to see a kid dart out in front of him. He grabbed the wheel as hard as he could; muscles strained and tore as the car fought to keep straight. The kid’s eyes were frozen in fear staring directly into Brody’s soul as stood perfectly still, glued to the pavement. Brody could see every freckle as the he flew by the boy. Their gaze broken by the blind spot behind his seat; he finally looked ahead, only to see black.
“I need you to put your hands where I can see them!” yelled the officer as she approached the car. Brody complied placing his hands on his head. There was no point in running now. He had finally broken the nice guy image, but he had a feeling being a bad boy wasn’t going to be fun.
The officer slowly moved past him as a firm hand grabbed his shoulder. “You can put your hands down son.” Brody turned to face the officer, ready for the worst. Instead he found two men.
“Are you OK son?” The first man asked.
“Actually, my head hurts. Are you here to take me in?” Brody asked tears already filling his eyes. “I didn’t mean it, really I didn’t. This isn’t who I am.”
“We know,” said the man. “You will need to pay for your…crimes, but you are safe now.”
“Is he OK? Did I hit the boy?”
“He’s fine, you narrowly missed him.” Together the men put their arms gently on Brody and turned him to walk away.
“Well,” the officer stated matter of fact, “looks like the SOB got what he deserved.” Brody looked back over his shoulder at the corvette. The officer had pushed back the branches and was peering inside the car. Brody sat firmly in his seat, a branch pinning his head to the headrest.
“Yes, Brody,” one of the men gently spoke, anticipating his next words. “The accident took your life. You were lucky we were nearby when it happened. We will bring you to the…well let’s call it a waiting room.” A door of light appeared in front of Brody and his escorts.
As they moved towards the light Brody took one last look around. “I really screwed up, didn’t I?”
“That isn’t for us to decide. When the time comes you will know what was right, and what was wrong. In the mean time, you will have peace until your judgment. Now is a time of rest.”