Saturday Night Grace

“Where am I going, J,” Thomas asked his brother. He rolled through the empty intersection after the light turned green. It was Saturday evening and Thomas’s foot bounced in place with impatience.

“I don’t have the address,” Joe said slowly. Joe had reclined his chair all the way back and stared at the street lamps illuminating the road and walkways. Joe is dressed for a party, but his face is prepped for a funeral.

“Why am I driving if you don’t have an address,” Thomas asked his brother, as he placed his hand on his knee to calm himself.

“I dunno,” Joe said with a shrug after a long pause. Joe hadn’t made eye contact with his brother since yesterday. Thomas’ mind wandered. Did he do something to his brother? He wondered if he’d be able to meet up with his friends still. He couldn’t bring his brother to the bar. He was underaged. Thomas’ mind raced. He would love to drop his brother off at his friend’s birthday party, but Joe hadn’t been forthcoming with any kind of communication. Thomas was inching closer to abandoning him in the middle of the street somewhere. What would his mom say to him?

“Geez, J,” Thomas said after a controlled sigh. “I can think of a million other things to do on a Saturday, then to drive aimlessly without a destination you clearly don’t want to go to.”

I guess you’re right,” Joe said, turning his gaze finally to this inside of the car.

Thomas slammed the brakes. The tires squealed for a second. Thomas’ car was going fast, but the force on his brakes, caused his tires to screech for a moment. “Can you please just look at the invitation so I can know where I’m going,” Thomas said, as he forced the car to park in the middle of the street.

“I don’t have it,” Joe said as he blinked slowly.

Thomas’ heart started to thump faster. “You left the house without an address?”

Joe nodded lazily.

“Can you call someone who’s going to be there?”

“I don’t know who’s going to be there.” 

“All right,” Thomas said as he gripped the steering wheel tightly. “I’m burning through what little patience I have left.” 

“Sorry to be such a burden,” Joe said evenly. 

“What gives, J,” Thomas decided to approach the conversation differently. “Did someone break up with you? Bully at the party?”

“No,” Joe said. 

“Then what,” Thomas screamed.

“I dunno,” Joe said, shrugging. 

“You are aggravating me,” Thomas yelled, as he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. 

Joe turned his head to the street lamps again. “It’s not smart to park in the street.”

“I’m trying to get something out of you!”

“Is that working,” Joe said.

“Listen to me,” Thomas said, slamming his foot partially on the gas. The car revved its engine. The sound made his heart beat even faster. “This pity party crap has got to stop.”

“Let me stop right away then,” Joe said. 

“Get out of the car,” Thomas ordered. “Now!” Joe turned to make eye contact with his brother, but Thomas’ eyes were fixated on the speedometer. “I said now!” Joe weakly put his hands on the handle to open the door and managed his way out of his seatbelt. Before Joe’s foot could touch the pavement, Thomas’ engine was roaring.

“Tom,” Joe said weakly, but his voice was buried under the screaming engine. Tire and exhaust smoke enveloped Joe as Thomas sped off. The passenger side door closed itself from the momentum.

The tires and engine echoed through the neighborhood and some of the residents turned their lights on to see what the commotion was. Thomas slammed his break to make a sharp U-turn and peeled out, whizzing by Joe.

Joe stood solitary in the street with a still face as he watched the red lights shrink into the distance. And then the red lights intensified. He could hear the tires screeching again. Then the red lights disappeared and he could see two white headlights.

“Young man, stand on the sidewalk please,” Joe heard a voice say in the distance, but the voice was drowned out by Thomas’ engine returning. Joe could also hear heavy metal music muffled within the car. Joe knew his brother was screaming his lungs out.

As the headlights grew closer, Blue and white lights flashed across the trees and sides of the houses. Thomas screeched to a halt and an abrupt siren chirped loudly for the neighborhood to hear.

An officer stepped up from behind Joe and approached Thomas, pointing to move the vehicle to the curb. Joe saw the police car was parked in the driveway. 

“Step out of the vehicle,” the officer commanded. 

Thomas had his hands up, apologizing with tears. “I’m sorry, officer. I just…” His words just spilled out onto the curb.

“Out of the vehicle,” the officer repeated. “You,” he said, pointing to Joe. “Over here,” the officer pointed to where he was standing. “Do you know why I pulled you over,” the officer said. Joe saw the police officer’s shirt was unbuttoned and his shirt tails were stuffed into his sweatpants. He looked behind him and saw the police car was real. Even if it was in the dark. 

“Reckless driving, sir,” Thomas guessed with tears in his eyes.

“That’s right,” the officer responded.

“Please, officer! Please! I just got this car last week,” Thomas begged.

“And attempted vehicular homicide,” the officer finished.

Thomas’ eyes widened in silence and tears streamed down his face.

“Do you two know each other,” the officer asked. Joe took one step forward. Thomas, fighting tears, grabbed him and hugged him.

“He’s my brother,” Thomas said, as he sniffled. “He’s my brother.”

“Do you realize there are other ways to speak to family,” the officer said. Thomas looked at the officer while still embracing Joe. “I heard your entire argument from my garage. Your brother needs your help. At these times, you need an approach of patience. Have mercy on him. Show him some grace.”

Thomas turned his attention to his brother. With his hands on his shoulders, he said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t have to go out tonight. You don’t have to go to your party.”

“You’re just saying that cause the fake officer said so,” Joe said quietly.

“The fake officer can hear you and is calling it in so your car is getting impounded,” the officer said.

“Take it,” Thomas said. “I’ll get a taxi.”

Thomas threw his arm around Joe’s shoulder and they walked down the sidewalk, chatting about where they could eat.

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