I hadn't been feeling well...
We didn't bring any water with us to the lake. The guys had brought plenty of alcohol, both of them were in their early 30's. I was only 18 years old and not really interested in drinking. My head throbbed and the only thing available for my scorched throat was a wine cooler. I took a sip and the sugary fluid coated my tongue. It hit my stomach and I felt everything inside me jar as though a large rock had just been dropped into my gut. I doubled over in agony.
"Mike, I'm not feeling well," I told him. I couldn't even stand up straight. He already had a number of cheap beers in his belly. Nothing much was getting to him.
"Why don't you go lay down in the truck then," he said. He cast his line back out into the lake from the dry, cracked shore under the Arizona summer sun. DePasqual, his best friend at the time, leaned back and reached into the cooler for another beer. Mike tossed me the keys and I walked as slowly as possible to the dark blue Chevy S10 pickup.
I laid down the little jump seat behind the driver’s side and sat in front of it. Then I grabbed a jacket to prop my body up, laid my head on the jump seat and pushed my feet as far as I could to the other side of the cab. Somewhat comfortable and terribly ill, I fell asleep there in the back of the truck.
When I woke up, I thought I was delirious. The whole world was bouncing and jostling around. Things were shaking like crazy. I felt my body lift from the floor of the truck slightly and I grabbed at the back of the seats next to me. I screamed as I felt the truck tilt nose down and I shoved myself to the floor of the truck as quickly as possible. My hands flew underneath the jump seat, pulling my body back down to the floor. My hair trailed out behind me, and I heard Mike scream.
When I opened my eyes, I was inches from the roof of the truck. Glass was blown out of every window in the truck. I was no longer worried about my headache or the heat in my mouth... I wanted to know where the blood dripping down the windshield had come from. I wanted to know why the roof of the truck was inches from my nose as I huddled in the floor of the truck. I wanted to know why Mike had screamed.
Mike got out of the truck to survey the damage. DePasqual didn't move from his seat. He tilted his head back and spoke through a stuffy nose.
"You ok back there?"
"Yeah," I said. "I'm fine. What happened?"
"Shh!" DePasqual silenced me. "The cops are coming over. Don't say anything."
One Police Officer opened DePasqual’s door and asked him to step outside. As he did, the Officer got a good look at the back seat of the truck.
“Sit down right there,” he yelled at DePasqual, pointing at a boulder that looked as though it had recently moved. The Officer sounded agitated, as though something were severely wrong. DePasqual knew better than to say anything. Then the Officer stuck his head in the truck and looked at me, scrunched in a ball in the back and barely able to see between the seats. “Young lady, are you ok?”
“Yeah,” I said, ignoring DePasqual’s advice to not say anything. “I’m fine. What happened?”
“Can you get out of the truck?”
“I think so…” I said, trying to squeeze out between the bucket seats in front. “Maybe not,” I grunted as my narrow hips got stuck between the seats. If the roof hadn’t been inches above me, I would have been able to get though without a problem. The seat back was crushed in an unusual position. The head rest looked as though someone had Karate chopped it at the level a man’s throat would rest at. It hung backwards, pressed up against the seat in a violent, brutal manner. DePasqual still had his head attached… he was lucky.
I shimmied and squirmed until finally I popped out from between the seats like air from a balloon. I tumbled into the passenger seat. The Officer backed up in order to give me the room I needed to stand up.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” He looked at me, but not at my eyes. Something else had his attention. He was staring straight at my forehead. “Medic,” he called over my shoulder, “Can you take a look at this?”
My hand shot up to my forehead and I ran my fingers across the hot, sticky surface. A trail of blood was streaming down my forehead and along the side of my nose. I felt it drip and stick in my eye lashes. The Officer asked me to have a seat in the passenger seat of the small truck to relax with my feet on the road and the door open.
Road? We were parked on the parched, cracked and dried beach. What did he mean by road? I set my feet on the pavement below. My mind whirled. I was completely turned around and I felt delirious. My headache suddenly came back 10 fold and I moaned in confusion and agony. I leaned back against DePasqual’s seat and waited for the Medic to come over.
“She’s been drinking too,” he said to the Officer.
“Have you been drinking?” He looked me square in the eye as the medic parted my hair in order to find the laceration to my scalp.
“They only brought alcohol,” I explained. “I didn’t want it, so they told me it was fruit punch in the glass I drank from. It tasted funny so I stopped drinking it.” My lie didn’t work, even though I admitted to having tasted the alcohol. They brought out the breathalyzer machine and had me blow into it.
“You’ve got a 0.001 % in your system. Between me and you, if you would have said no, I would have let you go. Since you said yes, and Arizona has a Zero Tolerance Policy for underage drinking, I’ll have to cite you. Nothing personal,” he explained.
The roof of the truck was still uncomfortably close to my head. I wanted to sit down on a curb, so I stood up. Nearly falling over from the heat and lack of fluids in my system coupled with a growing bump on my head I didn’t know the origins of, I was lucky the Officer caught me. The medic advised that I sit back down in the truck, but my occasional issue with claustrophobia was beginning to attack me. They stood me up and began to walk me over to the curb.
A 3 ton bolder sat in the bed of the tiny pick up truck. All four tires were flat, and the roof of the truck was completely caved in. Glass had blown out everywhere and it crunched under my feet as we made our way to the curb at the base of the rock cliffs. DePasqual, perched on his smaller boulder, watched as I walked along with assistance.
“Do you know these guys,” the Officer questioned me as we walked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“So they didn’t kidnap you or anything?”
“Haha!” I laughed weakly. “I’m not the kind of girl that gets herself kidnapped.” Looking back on that line only a year later, the bitter irony still gnaws at my intestines worse than the wine cooler on that hot Arizona summer day.
“They didn’t force you into anything?”
“What do you mean,” I asked, “force me into anything?”
“Did they rape you?”
Shocked and stunned, I sat down with a thud. “No!! Mike wouldn’t ever – he isn’t like that! He’s my boyfriend!”
Dawning comprehension crossed the face of the young Officer. He looked at me as though I had completely lost my mind and grown two heads. Then he stood up and walked away from me, completely disgusted that I had been dating someone 32 years old when I was only 18. Looking back now, he was right to do so. At the time, I found myself insulted by his instant change in tone.
Mike had apparently decided I was too ill for them to stay at the lake. In a drunken haze, he fished the keys out of my pocket as I slept and told DePasqual to get in the passenger side of the truck. They crunched across the dried, cracked lake shore and left every empty beer can and bottle sitting right where it was. Mike tossed his fishing pole in the bed of the truck, jumped in the driver’s seat, and took off for home. He was slightly angry at having to leave because I wasn’t feeling well, but he got over that.
About the time Mike reached the near by man-made dam, another car in front of us had slowed way down. In his newly revived frustration at the circumstances, Mike decided to go around the other car. He went too far to the left and one of the tires hit a rock. After a short series of over corrections, Mike launched the truck off of the dam, straight towards the boat docks below. The truck bounced and jerked the entire way down, tearing loose several boulders. When we landed, it was on the front end of the truck. The back half was about to land on the ground when the boulder struck the bed, forcing it down so hard that it burst all four tires and blew out every window on the truck. It also crushed most of the cabin over my head.
The Police just happened to be close by. They had actually seen the truck land and the nearly comical but crushing blow at the end. Since I had been lying down in the truck, they never saw me back there and never imagined anyone in the back seat would survive that kind of an impact. Had I been sitting up, my ears would have been resting on my knees, with most of my head still attached to them.
I hadn’t actually been drinking that day. I ended up with severe heat stroke and almost had to go to the hospital and be hooked up to an IV. Still, I wasn’t in control of the situation and someone I trusted nearly got me killed. I’m very strongly against driving while under the influence of alcohol. I’ve seen the effects first hand and somehow managed to survive through it.
Mike never admitted he had done anything wrong. He insisted that he wasn’t drunk, and all he had wanted to do really was get me home and make me feel better. While that was sweet of him to say, the truth of the matter is that he got drunk and stupid.
It was the last time I ever got into a car owned by someone who had been drinking. I easily could have lost my life that afternoon. I still don’t remember certain details, and I wonder if I had been knocked unconscious when the boulder struck the cabin of the truck. Part of me even wonders if that’s why I’ve never been drunk even once in my life. If the people around me aren’t thinking clearly enough to not put my life at risk, then I need to remain in control of myself. It may also have something to do with my trust issues… I trusted him with my life, and he nearly paid me back with a head stone.