We scared a bunch of drivers the first few nights. Some people waited for other cars to join them at the light before crossing the watery line poured from the gas can. Others rolled down their car windows and called us every name in the book when the light turned green. A couple drivers shut off their cars and ran after us. On the third night, something happened that has left a mark, a regret, on my soul for more than forty years.
A brand-new, baby-blue Mustang convertible came cruising down Corona. The top was down, and I remember its exhaust pipes sounding sweet and powerful, with a sort of thwump-thwump tone. The driver was young, but older than us. The light turned red and the Mustang slowed to a stop. I stepped out from behind the bushes.
I walked between the lines of the crosswalk, splashing water from the gas can onto the asphalt. Emmett and Winfield crouched on each side of the street, holding fistfuls of wooden matches ready to strike on the curb.
The driver of the Mustang yelled out, "Fuck you!" We yelled the same back. He slowly backed the car about a hundred feet north towards Eighth Avenue. Emmett, Winfield and I silently thought, "We got him." As the light changed from red to green, the guy in the Mustang floored the gas pedal and peeled rubber towards the intersection. Other drivers had done that and taken their chances with our mythical gauntlet. Twenty feet before the crosswalk, though, the guy lost his nerve and stood on the brake pedal. The Mustang broke traction and its rear end slid into the left front quarter-panel of a car parked on the right-hand side of the street.
Emmett, Winfield and I took off running, probably faster than we'd ever run in our lives. I remember diving into the pup tent and thinking I was still hearing the sounds of breaking glass and crunching metal. Thirty minutes later, the cops drove down the street and flashed a spotlight into Emmett's back yard. We held our breath, but they didn't stop.
To this day, I get uncomfortable when I see a classic Mustang driving down the street. Even television commercials for new Mustangs cause me minor anxiety. Today, I'd apologize to the guy, assuming he is still alive. In the back of my mind, though, I have this odd sense of foreboding whenever I'm standing in the checkout lines at the King Soopers at Ninth Avenue and Corona and someone comes up behind me. I think it's the guy and he's going to recognize me and jam a white plastic fork into the back of my head.
I wouldn't blame him. -- Scott J. Keating
I wish I had something to apologize for. I wish I had done something, rather than nothing. -- Ms. X
I bet I seem like a thinking person with a moral streak who realizes that my actions affect others, and I have tried my damnedest to be that way, mostly. But the truth is that I was once the worst kind of scum -- a very, very, very drunk driver.
I apologize to all the people whose lives I endangered on East Evans Avenue 21 years ago, during the festive holiday season. I forget just which night, but the cocktail waitresses were wearing little elf outfits. Near the long-defunct nightclub known as Tulips. While passing an empty field that by now must be an exciting New Urbanism development. On my way to the pathetic Aurora apartment complex I called home.
I will now explain the circumstances of the night in question. Not because they excuse my actions, but because if society had managed to punish me back then, I wouldn't be doing it here now.
The man in my life was the particular model of asshole who is charming, good-looking, will never hold a straight job, and needs to be involved with three women while telling each one they're it. If you're stupid enough to get mixed up with someone like this, you always end up out looking for them, trying to track them down. I went to Tulips because it was 25-cent-well-drinks night, and I knew he liked his alcohol cheap.
He wasn't there, but I had a couple of dollars and was feeling very sorry for myself. Hence, I tied one on and proceeded to drive home in my Fiat X-19 with the blown head gasket. On the way, I reviewed the events of my life and began to cry. Then, through the tear-blur, I made out the red-and-blue lights of an Aurora police cruiser. After a while, I even heard a siren. I managed to pull over. I cut the engine and waited.