Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Friday Night Races - Part II

This is the continuation of Friday Night Races

"Hey, he might not be dead." Moshe was the first one to speak. We had returned back to the hotel around 4:30. Driving separately, we took great care not to come in at the same time, not to let anyone see us leave or enter the hotel. "We heard sirens. Help was on"

"He's f**kin' toast," I heard myself interupt. "There's no way he got out of there." I wanted to throw up and cry and be strong and most of all, I wanted to go back to that moment six hours earlier when we snuck away. I wanted to shout out to that memory, to warn it of the impending disaster. But there was nothing that could be done. Nothing, but think about ourselves.

David must have been reading my mind. When the pressure was on, David always rose to the occasion. That night, in twelfth grade, when we were busted by Rabbi Moses coming back from a dance club reeking of cigarette smoke and pot, David proved himself. He looked the rabbi straight in the eye, took Rabbi Moses' hand, and told him we were at a shiva house where things were getting out of control.

David lived by three words. Deny all allegations. It was his mantra, and he had the composure and character makeup to pull it off. Regardless of the situation, David looked for ways out of tight situations.

"Boys, here's the situation," he began. "No one saw us leave here tonight. No one saw us come back. So as far as anyone at this shabbaton is concerned, we were here all night. The guys who race don't know our names, and they won't talk to cops anyways. So from this moment forward, tonight never happened."

His voice got stronger as he went on. I looked at him in awe. And revulsion. One of our best friends was killed, and he was able to block it all out and plan for our safety.

"What about the Gregg's," Moshe asked. "They are going to want to know what happened to their kid." Moshe was bordering on hysterical. Tears flew down his cheeks. Of all of us, he and Chaim were the closest. He would take this the hardest.

"What about the Gregg's," David answered. "What about us? Do you want the whole world to know where you were tonight? Do you want your parents to know that the $100,000 they spent on your education was a big f**king waste of money?"

"You need to think of yourself at a time like this. You need to trust me. And trust me, it's what Chaim would have wanted."

"We need a story," I said, interupting. "Everyone saw us go back to our room tonight. When we go out, there will only be three of us."

"OK," Moshe answered. "We tell everyone that when we got back to the room, Chaim said he was going out to meet some girl in the lobby, and we haven't seen him since."

We worked on the details of the cover up. By the time our story was set, it was almost 6 AM. In two and a half hours, someone would be knocking on our door to wake us for minyan.

We were still wearing our clothes from the night's adventure, smelled of smoke, and had motor oil all over our hands. "Boys, time to clean up," David said, and soon the shower was running and the evidence slowly went down the drain.

When David was in the shower, I looked over at Chaim's unmade bed. A tear was struggling to get out. A tear I wanted to set free. But a tear I was told I must never shed.

Moshe was having no trouble at all crying. he was breaking down, and I wondered who among us would be the first to crack.

"They probably already know," Moshe said. "The Greggs, they probably know that Chaim is dead. They must have got the call from the hospital and by now they know. Who knows, maybe they got him out."

We went through the rest of Shabbos in a daze. As high school graduates about to embark on a year-long journey to Israel, we were expected to speak, and so we did. But I have no idea what any of us actually said.

And we knew the worst was still to come. Tomorrow we would have to go to Chaim’s funeral. And then there would be real questions. Not the one’s we shrugged off throughout the Shabbaton.

The accident had happened too late on Friday night to make the Saturday morning paper, and we wondered if timing would keep the story out of the paper for good.

When I got home on Saturday night, I expected to be greeted with news of Chaim’s accident and death. I was prepared for any question. I was not prepared for nothing. Just my mom asking how the Shabbaton was. I made some small talk, and went to my room to call the guys.

We had a quick conference call, and decided that Chaim’s family was keeping it a secret for a day, so that they wouldn’t have to admit that their son was driving on Shabbos when he died. We reminded each other of our pact, hung up, and went to sleep.

I don’t think I slept more than five minutes in a row. All night, I kept having the recurring nightmare. I saw Chaim’s car burst into flame. And I pictured him looking straight at me, screaming and begging for help. Finally, at 6:00 am, I gave up and got out of bed.

I went outside, and grabbed the paper, wondering if there would be any mention of the drag racing accident. I didn’t have to flip through very far. Page A-6, right after the National news, on top of the local section. There was a picture of Chaim’s burnt out Chevy. Next to the picture, the headline read

Teen in Drag Racing Death Still Unidentified
I quickly read the article.

Utica police are turning to the community today, as they try to identify the victim of a horrific car accident. The driver, who was racing a Chevy Cavalier that had been reported stolen over two years ago, was burnt beyond recognition after a spark caught a leaky fuel line, causing the car to explode.

Police say that it looks like the teen was racing when the accident took place. Police are asking for anyone with information about the accident to come forward so that they can identify the victim.

“Oh F**k,” I whispered, and slammed my fist down on the table. This was the worst possible scenario. Worse than I could have imagined.

That morning, Chaim’s mother called all three of our mother’s. Duty-bound, we all stuck to the same story. We didn’t know where Chaim went on Friday night. We thought he was sneaking out to meet one of the girls at the Shabbaton but that he had been pretty vague about his plans.

Moshe, David and I got together at the baseball field in the park around the corner. The place where Chaim used to crush the ball in little league games. The place where the four of us often met to make plans and sneak away.

Chaim’s mom was starting to panic, and we needed to decide. Did we come clean? Or did we stick to the plan, hold out until Tuesday, get on our flight to Israel, and run.

The preceding story is a work of fiction. It is the continuation of Friday Night Races


Blogger Just Passing Through said...

we want Boruch the Yeshiva Bochur back!

July 19, 2005 11:03 AM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

why can't david call the cops anonymously ?

July 19, 2005 11:04 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

JPT - after Boruch's last sighting, I don't think he is much of a yeshiva guy anymore

Amshi - Call it a plot hole. Perhaps it will be answered in part III

July 19, 2005 12:42 PM  
Blogger Veev said...

OK, I'll comment.

(Read in Stiffler's voice)That was awesome!

July 19, 2005 1:14 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Veev - you're too good to me.

July 19, 2005 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

arye - you definitely missed your calling...


July 19, 2005 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story sounds eerily similar to some things I'd heard about back in high school. Kids going to shul Friday night, and taking the keys out of taleisim bags, going for joy rides, or drinking in Windsor, and returning the car in the wee hours of the AM. Until one kid got busted for DWI

--PS Don't lump me in with other anons..I would never participate in their activities

July 19, 2005 9:31 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...


I thought I remember hearing that one of those kids got in a car accident. But could be it was a DWI. But I wasn't thinking of them when i wrote this story.

July 19, 2005 11:05 PM  
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