The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 180: Louella Gets Rear-Ended

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     In the evening darkness, Louella crept east on Fayette Street in her green Miata. The icy sleet was piling up on the asphalt. Be lucky if I get home in one piece, she thought as she hung back behind a rusted-out Chevy that was fish-tailing all over the place. She nervously tapped her fingers on the steering wheel to the rhythms of ’70s tunes on WQSR.
     She looked at the clock. It had already been a half-hour since she’d left the family’s Patterson Park rowhouse. Lucky I filled the gas tank yesterday, she congratulated herself. But suppose those people in front of me didn’t fill theirs?
     She ran through the scenario if she got stranded, reminding herself of her resolution to get a cell phone. Then she realized calling wouldn’t do any good because nobody she knew would be able to rescue her in a situation like this. I’d have to ditch the car and hope to catch a bus up Charles Street, she thought, suddenly realizing she hadn’t worn boots. Damn! I’d freeze to death in these leather flats and nylons!
     She gently accelerated, still keeping her distance from the car ahead, windshield wipers barely able to do the job as the sleet froze on the glass, obscuring vision.
     A purple Neon coming from a side street aggressively swerved onto Fayette in front of Louella, skidded, and righted itself. Louella fought to control her own skid without braking too hard. Thank God Dad taught me how to drive! she thought as the procession of cars inched forward. That jerk had some nerve taking up the space I made for myself!
     In the distance she could see a traffic light changing to red. She slowed even more, preparing to stop. The lumbering Chevy was having trouble. The Neon fishtailed to avoid a crash. Louella’s Miata came to a dead halt six inches from the Neon’s bumper and held firm--as the car behind her rammed her bumper really hard. Good thing it wasn’t an SUV! she thought as she angrily disengaged herself from the seatbelt and stepped into the slush to confront the driver behind her.
     She scrutinized her bumper in the hazy glow of the streetlights. Didn’t look like any damage. She was ready to signal an okay to the driver of the the grey Honda that hit her. Then she noticed it had vanity UVA plates. The driver, intense-looking, emerged from his car. He was wearing a three-piece suit, and he straightened his cuffs. Louella smelled lawyer.
     “Why’d you stop?!” he demanded.
     Louella couldn’t believe it. Of all the nerve! He’s the one who hit me, he’s the one at fault, and he asks me why I stopped!
     “What do you mean, ‘why’d you stop’?” she snapped. “I stopped because the guy in front of me stopped! You think I stopped just for the fun of it, so you could run into me?”
     “Well, I just wanted to know why you stopped,” he yelled defensively, re-entering the sanctum of his car.
     Louella had plenty more to say but figured, why bother? The guy’s such a loser! I know the type! It’s always somebody else’s fault!
     In the rearview mirror she saw the Honda was keeping its distance. Wonder if we’ll run into each other again? she fumed.


Recent Chapters:

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on Jan. 6, 1999.