October, 2021

The Siren

It was nearing closing, the lounge was emptying out.  

“Look,” said the bartender, “I can’t pour you another one.  You don’t look like you’re in any shape to drive.  You want me to call you Uber?’

He reached into his right hip pocket, extracted his wallet and fumbling a little, pulled a fifty from it and slapped it onto the dark wood of the counter, drawing a quick sideways glance from the only other man seated at the bar.  “That’s for one for the road,” he said, glaring at the bartender, and challenging him to pick it up.

The bartender looked at the bill laying in front of him, shrugged his shoulders, pocketed the bill, and poured out another shot of scotch.  “But that’s it,” he said.

“Thanks,” he grunted.  Who elected you to be my keeper?   As bad as the bitch.   Well the hell with her.  To hell with all of them.  “Walking out on me,” he mumbled. “Shit!” more loudly.

“What’d you say?”  asked the bartender.

No reply.  He drained his shot, got up from the stool, tossed another fifty on the counter and turned to go.

“Let me call Uber for you,” the bartender said.  “And some advice.  For you own good, don’t keep flashing those big ones.  You never know who’s watching.”

He kept walking.  The bartender watched his back briefly, thinking okay—hope you make it home,  before turning his attention back to wiping down the bar.

He waited a bit unsteadily as the valet got his car, a black Porsche.  “Nice set of wheels, the valet said, holding the door open for him.  He handed the kid another fifty and headed down the short inclined driveway, into Kalakaua.  Steady as a rock behind the wheel, he thought.

On an impulse he decided to head home to Lanikai driving the long way around past Koko Head and Sandy Beach.  The moon was full and there was little traffic at this hour and it was a beautiful night.  Less chance to run into a police roadblock too, he thought.  He opened the roof to let the cool night breeze clear his head a little.  Around Diamond Head and then through Kahala, roaring around and passing the hotel shuttle that flashed its high beams after him in his rear view mirror.  Screw you buddy.  Screw her too.  Walking out on me.  Me!  Bitch!  

He left the Kahala neighborhood of ultra-pricey mansions and joined the six lane divided highway that linked all the small suburban communities making up East Oahu. The highway speed limit was thirty-five, but almost no one complied, and he drove along comfortably with the few other cars at forty-five plus.  

As he neared the Aina Haina fire station, he saw, far back in his rearview mirror, the flashing red light of an ambulance, still too far away to hear the siren.  No problem to keep ahead of it till it turned off at wherever it was headed.  He picked up speed, and the Porsche responded effortlessly.  Still, the flashing red drew closer and now he could hear the faint wail of the siren.  Okay, goose it a little more, up it to fifty plus.  Stay in front of it.  

By now Hawaii Kai was coming up ahead.  The light at Hawaii Kai Drive was just turning red when he flashed through at sixty. The ambulance followed.  Damn, where’s it going?  He quickly came up to the last set of traffic lights in Hawaii Kai.  Damn ambulance has got to turn off here.  The lights were just turning from yellow to red as he sped through.  The ambulance followed, lights flashing, siren wailing.  Can’t be a beach accident at this hour.  Must be a traffic accident.  Probably all backed up and I’ll be stuck.  Should have gone home by the Pali. 

Up the long uphill at sixty-five and still the ambulance paced him.  Then down, through two sharp turns, first left then right, tires squealing.  And still the red light and siren wail followed, closer.  Got a Porsche—but damn, that ambulance driver’s good.  A section of winding road above sea cliffs, and the ambulance followed, just three car lengths behind now, pushing him, the siren filling his ears.  Past Halona Blow Hole with a long straight stretch of road ahead.

Slow white pickup truck ahead and an oncoming car.  He gunned it and squeezed through at seventy, hearing the horns blare, fading behind him.  Hah!  That’ll slow up that bastard.  He checked his rear view mirror just in time to see the ambulance pass right through the pickup truck.  What!?  The cold sweat of fear began to trickle down from his arm pits.  And now the ambulance was right on his rear end.  Got to get away!  

He downshifted and floored it, blasting uphill towards Makapuu.  The siren shriek drowned out the roar of the motor, filled his ears, reverberated inside his skull, jamming his mind.  Red light flooded the cabin—flash-flash-flash-flash—blinding his eyes.  Going flat out to the top of the hill—and straight out into the void over the cliff at Makapuu.  Damn bitch he screamed in triumph as the Porsche began its arcing fall.

The siren wails for thee.