The patent leather belt creaked from the weight of his hands. The cascading red and blue lights rolled of the ice coated branches.
“Get in the car.” He said simply, gesturing toward the dark back seat.
Six hours ago, we had been shivering at the local light rail station, while we waited for the train to arrive. We weren’t dressed warmly because we were headed downtown to some end-of-the-year concert at some bar that was someplace down on the Landing, which was somewhere downtown. Since we didn’t want to deal with the coat check or sweating feverishly in a hot bar, we were mildly suffering in the blistering cold. Everyone was excited about the show for their own reasons. Party wanted to see Poe, because he thought she was wicked. Secret wanted to see Weezer because he heard they studied music. Sweet Cream wanted to drink himself into a stupor.
I was excited because the concert meant that I was done with finals. I had procrastinated to the last minute, pulled two all-nighter’s to finish my papers, and probably missed too many classes over the term to really get a fantastic grades, but at least I was done. Five and one half hours later, all eight of us excited the dive with a horde of other concertgoers. Steam poured off our sweaty skin. The smell of burnt nicotine permeated every pore of our body. Fresh bruises were beginning to sprout next to slight cuts on our bodies from being crammed into a ridiculously small space like lobsters in a tank.
Even though it was even colder than the inside of a freezer, the weather could not touch our post-concert ebullience. With abnormally loud voices from permanent hearing loss, we rapaciously discussed the high points. When the first train came, a wave of people surged forward, jamming each nook of the train. Stranded on the platform we laughed at our friends that were smashed against the interior train doors. The next train arrived quickly. We boarded, and tried to establish as much personal space as possible as the train rumbled along.
There was one problem. The train stopped three stations before ours. Over the intercom, the driver announced that, as it was past two, and he was at the train corral, the train was out of service. We didn’t complain, because we didn’t want to be crushed by the herd of exiting people. Once we were on the platform, the complaining began. Once shivering replaced complaining, we took stock of our situation. We were, three miles from campus. We could have caught a cab, if we had had any money, other than the two dollars of pooled change. We could have caught a bus, if they were still running. We tried calling some people to pick us up, but no one answered their phones.
Grumpily, we were left with one option. Walking. Like survivors of some catastrophe, we trudged across the empty snow encrusted city, heading for shelter. Halfway to the campus, the only sign of life was a police cruiser heading the opposite way. With rubber shearing force, it spun about to our side of the road and flipped on the emergency lights. There was a brief discussion about running, but as we didn’t think we had broken any laws, other than “Walking at Night Past 2 A.M. in Snow”, there was no reason to run. Just after the discussion, the cop pulled alongside us and asked if we wanted a ride.
Our jaws hung slack in surprise and shock. No one wanted to walk in the bitter slippery cold anymore. Gingerly, we piled in to the back according to his direction. Once in, the door clanged shut ominously. I steadied myself against the door, noting the absent handle. The metal mesh obstructed most of the light from the front. There were no seat belts and the seat smelled suspiciously like poop. I also was fairly sure that four people weren’t allowed to ride in the back of a sedan legally, but I kept my opinion to myself. As he drove, the cop peppered us with questions. I was elected to respond by the group by a series of elbows to my side. So, gingerly, awkwardly, he and I had a conversation until one block before our dorm when the radio came to life with a loud crackle.
“…..Naked man….Brandishing a butcher knife at the corner of Kingsbury and….”
All of us looked about, half-alarmed, and half-curious about what our rescuer was going to do.
“Sorry guys.” He said, pulling the car over. “You’re going to have to walk now.”
No one moved.
“That’s right!” He laughed, “You can’t get out. Sorry! I always forget that.”
And with that, he cut us loose to low muttered thanks. But once he was gone, the words flowed as we trudged the last feet to our beds, and even I had to agree that the whole experience had been “pretty cool”.