The van struck him biking downhill. Who wanted to kill him? Divine Fury. Chapter 55
April 18, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
THEY STOPPED AT a turnout that had a stunning view of the valley below with the highway running into the Caldecott Tunnel. Lee dismounted gingerly from the bike and felt intense pain in the right side of his groin. He had to walk with tiny steps at first as he gradually felt the pain lessen. Just a cramp, thank God. Carr was straddling her bike, watching him, perhaps with less sympathy than she might have shown given the circumstances.
“Poor baby,” she cooed, tossing him an energy bar.
“Look,” he said. “I know this is an everyday thing for you. I’ve got a couple of muscles here saying, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’”
Carr got off her bike, leaned it against a guard rail and then removed her helmet which she hung from the handlebar. She walked over to Lee, the metal parts of her shoes tapping on the way, handed him her water bottle and put her arms around him. That was better. Lee hugged her back and put his face in her hair which he noticed was surprisingly free from sweat.
“It is a nice ride,” he said. “Just so much uphill.” Carr laughed.
“You’re doing great,” she said. “I wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t know you were in good shape. It’s different muscles though. When we go jogging, I’ll be dead after the first mile.”
They sat on the edge of the turnout, nibbled their energy bars and took some long swigs from their water bottles. Lee enjoyed the sun, the crisp air, Lorraine’s hand on his thigh and the feeling of her using him as a backrest while he rested his hand on her stomach. They stared off into the distance watching the cars inching along the highway far below.
“Do you think about her much?” asked Carr.
“Who?” said Lee.
“Sarah. You know, I never met her. I just talked to her on the phone a few times before all that happened,” said Carr.
“Right. I remember,” said Lee.
“You were so sad afterward,” said Carr. “I was worried about you.”
“Yeah. I was in pretty bad shape for a while there,” he said. “It helped that we never had a normal time together. It was all so short and intense and crazy. If we had lived together for a while…I don’t know. It would have been harder. A lot more reminders.”
Carr twisted and tilted her head to look back at Lee.
“I’m glad you’re okay then,” she said, squinting a bit.
“Better than okay,” he said, putting his hand behind her shoulders and leaning her back to give her a long kiss. His other hand ran up her thigh and over her stomach until he was feeling her breast through the bright yellow shirt.
After a few seconds, she gently grabbed his hand.
“Save it for the ride, mister,” said Carr.
“I was worried you were going to say that,” said Lee.
Carr got to her feet and offered her hand. He took the assist, grunting as he stood up and got ready for the last stretch up to Grizzly Peak.
The rest made all the difference. It was steep for another ten minutes and then flattened out the last mile or so before they reached Grizzly Peak Road. Lee felt reasonably good when they got to the top, not that he was looking for another mountain to climb. He was content to only spend a minute straddling their bikes and taking more water before they started again for the long dash down the mountain they had so painstakingly climbed the past hour.
Lee had seen more than a few friends with slings and broken collarbones from bike accidents. So he was content to hit the brakes liberally and descend at a moderate pace. The last thing he wanted to do was to lose the bike on a gravel patch making a turn too quickly or run off the mountain after failing to negotiate a turn. Carr was behind him, keeping back at a safe distance several lengths behind.
They were a third of the way down when Lee first noticed the green minivan behind them. He caught a glimpse first when he checked back for traffic. It was a couple of curves back. Then, very quickly he became aware that it was right up on them, right on Carr’s tail.
He saw her waving her arm up and down, trying to signal the van to slow down. Carr had sped up her descent and was close behind him now. He could feel the van pushing closer and closer. Lee sped up, too, to give Carr more room.
They were flying down now. Lee was pedaling on the flat parts, trying not to brake on the tight curves. He was barely hanging on to the turns. He would have pulled off on the shoulder but the van had pushed them to such a high speed he didn’t think he could do that without tumbling into the ditch running along the side.
He heard Carr yell something. He didn’t know what she was saying. Then suddenly, she was gone. He caught a glimpse of her shooting off to the side. She must have known there was an escape, a gap where she could get off the main road. But Lee had missed her attempt to alert him to it.
With Carr gone, the van sped up. He could hear the engine revving up. Then, the loud squeal of brakes as it followed him quickly around a corner. He glanced back once coming off the turn and saw a pair of mirrored sunglasses underneath a blue Chicago Cubs cap. The face was expressionless. He couldn’t see his eyes but felt like they were staring right back at him.
“Back off you crazy son of a bitch!” he yelled hoping the driver would be able to read his lips.
He turned back to the road and heard the van revving again. It was inches away from him now.
When it hit him as he squeezed his brakes for the next turn, all Lee saw in front of him was a line of tree trunks. Any thought he had about steering the bike disappeared as the van pushed him forward and spun the back of the bike so he was flying toward the trees sideways. The road dropped away as he went over the edge. He was airborne now. He let go of the bike, put his forearms up around his head and tried to tuck his body into a curl.
Then he was headed down the hill on the gravel and rocks. He did a somersault, rolled over sideways a few times and slid some more before he stopped. He was dazed and in pain. His arms and one leg in particular hurt a lot. His head was on the upslope. He was staring at rocks. But then the thought occurred to him that he was alive. At least he was alive. He turned onto his back so he could see the sky and exhaled slowly in relief.
A minute later, he heard Carr above him. He recognized the sound of a bike hitting the ground and then footsteps with loose gravel sliding underneath her. Then, he heard her.
“No. No. No. No.” She was saying it softly, plaintively under her breath as she hurried down the slope. Finally, she dropped to the ground next to him, put one hand on his chest and looked at his face. Tears streamed down hers. He put his hand on her shoulder, pulled her close and didn’t let go for a long time.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.