I see it. Blinking a couple of times, I look again hoping it isn’t an illusion. It isn’t. Right there on the main road, turning on to the highway, is the Volvo.
I did it. Somehow, I caught up. I strain my eyes hoping to see Michael through the windows. No luck. They’re tinted.
Had I thought of it in time, I would have looked further down. The license plate only crosses my mind as the Volvo crosses the threshold of the highway and picks up speed. I ease my minivan onto the onramp and press down on the gas, keeping white in my sights.
I catch something red and blue from the corner of my eye. Damn. No great! That’s just what I need right now. A cop. Letting my foot off the gas, I maneuver the minivan through traffic, aiming for the… wait… The Volvo. I couldn’t slow down. I’d lose it. I’d lose Michael.
The cop turns on his siren to go with the garish lights. In the back of my mind I wonder why they chose red and blue. Red and blue – the colors of the boy’s jerseys during the game. A tear tries to escape. I push it back, force it back. With the Volvo so far ahead of me and the police so close behind, I can’t afford the luxury of tears. Hell, I havn’t cried since Michael was three and ran head first into my crotch. Three-year-olds were just the right height for that. A head-butt to the family, that’s what it takes to get a grown man to cry. That and having your son taken from you in the middle of a soccer game that you wanted nothing to do with in the first place and only did so the wife would quit nagging about quality time and missing my son growing up and… Ah hell…
I don’t bother to wipe the tears away. Instead, I speed up, the Volvo still in sight, though now pretty far away.
My phone rings again. I grab at it, thinking to turn the damn thing off. Glancing down, I see it’s once again my wife, though this time she sent a text instead of trying to call.
WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU???
Just like that. All in caps. Another text comes in at the same time a horn honks from the side of the car.
Lifting my eyes back to the road, I immediately pull on the steering wheel, barely avoiding the silver sedan next to me. My heart pounding out of my chest, I can’t catch my breath as the sedan’s window rolls down and its driver waves. With one finger. I wave back, though he can’t see me through my own tinted windows.
Tinted windows. The Volvo. My head shoots up to the light traffic ahead. No Volvo. I swear, and slam my hand against the steering wheel. She interfered again. She’s always interfering. Sending texts, leaving messages, dozens of reminders a day on how to do something, where to go, what to pick up, what to say, what not to say…
Scanning left, scanning right, I search each and every vehicle ahead of me hoping to see white, disappointed several times, once with a station wagon that was the wrong brand and second with a smaller sedan that simply caught my eye. At the same time that I desperately look for the Volvo, knowing I couldn’t have lost it completely, knowing the next off ramp wasn’t for another half a mile, a second police cruiser joins the chase behind me.
I pass vehicle after vehicle in my mad dash towards the goal, thinking to myself how this would have made a great lesson to all my kids on how to speed past their opponents, how to stay focused.
My cell starts ringing again. I’d forgotten it in my lap after the near miss. I grab it but don’t look this time. Just another text from the wife. My intrusive, busy-body wife. She’s probably received ten phone calls from ten different soccer parents by now, each telling her how awful her husband is. How irresponsible. How… But then, wasn’t I? Hell, I’d let my own kid get taken right from under my nose.
My hand, still gripping the cell phone, hits the steering wheel again and again, each time more and more forceful until it starts to hurt. I still don’t stop. How could I let this happen? How could I let my son, my Michael…
There it is. I see it. Thank God. The Volvo switches lanes, heading to the left of the highway. It picks up speed. So do I. So do the cops. Glancing in the mirror, I see yet another has joined the first, a SUV this time. It won’t be long now before they try something. A helicopter? Spiked strips? Why are they chasing me? Why aren’t they chasing the Volvo? It is speeding. It is driving recklessly. It has Michael. Could I signal them? Could I call 911 and tell them what’s happened? Yes! Instead of hitting the steering wheel this time, I hit my own head. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Why don’t I just call the police and tell them why I’m speeding down the highway chasing a white Volvo?
I take one precious moment to tear my eyes from the station wagon holding my son to look at the device in my hand. Big bold letters glare out at me, my wife’s latest text. I ignore it and clear the screen. Eyes up, see the Volvo. Eyes down, find the right buttons. Eyes up, the Volvo switches lanes again, avoiding a truck that has no business in the left lane to begin with. I switch lanes also.
Eyes down, dial 911.
Eyes up, The Volvo screams away, speeding faster than it had been before. It’s spotted me. Or the cops behind me. Either way, I have to catch up.
Eyes down, go to hit the talk button. The van bumps up and I lose my grip on the phone. It flies through the air and lands first on my lap before scooting across to the floor.
Eyes up. What the hell did I hit? Looking around, I see nothing. Looking in the rearview mirrors, I see nothing. Except the police. Who I just tried calling. Who I can’t call now because the phone is on the floor. There is no way in hell I’m going take my eyes off the road again in order to reach down there to get it. The cops can’t help me now. I have to help myself.
Leaving all caution behind, I push my van to its limit, the needle on the speedometer creeping up, the engine roaring. The sirens grow louder. My ears hurt. My heart hurts. God help me.
Though I’d been following the bastard for miles, I feel for the first time like the chase is really on. There is no choice, no options. I can’t lose sight of the Volvo again. I can’t let anything stop me. I have to save my son. If only the three, no four now, officers behind me understood.
My van gradually creeps up, gaining on the Volvo inch by inch. And all the while, one thought keeps running through my mind. If I catch the station wagon before the cops catch me, then they catch the SOB who took my son. After they pry me off of him. If he’s still alive.