Driver, Irene, Benicio and the other characters you recognise from the film don't belong to me obviously; I just took the liberty to shape some of their thoughts and some parts of their lives.
As it is stated, the quote before the text doesn't either.
The tile of the chapter was taken from the song by Kavinsky & Lovefoxx that is part of the soundtrack of the film.
I hope you enjoy it. Reviews will be highly appreciated.
"These memories sustained him, but not so easily. Too often they reminded him of where he was when he last summoned them. They lay on the far side of a great divide in time, as significant as B.C. and A.D. Before prison, before the war, before the sight of a corpse became a banality."
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Maybe it isn't too late yet to go to the hospital, he guessed, pressuring the wound on the right side of his abdomen, his hand covered in deep-red blood.
A stab wound would raise questions, obviously, and would very probably have to be reported to the police but he could always throw his wallet into a dumpster and say that he had been mugged.
He would keep on driving as nothing had happened. He was still capable of it. The reflection on the rearview showed him a much paler version of himself, his hair seemed glued to his forehead and his hands were clammy, but he could continue reasonably well for a while more, time enough to take him to that secondary road that would very probably be empty by then. Everything would be well in the end.
He had really enjoyed those late night drives with Irene around town. A great part of them had been spent in silence, that kind of comfortable one that unites instead of diving because words simply aren't needed, and he still remembered her hand on his when it was resting on the gear handle. How simple and natural it felt, even despite everything they had left behind every time they walked out of the door.
He had also really enjoyed being at her apartment watching cartoons with Benicio or just staying there, watching mother and son play, well before everything started to get out of control to a point from onwards it couldn't ever be right again.
He was missing both those things to a degree that lead him to covet the time they couldn't have had before. This surprised him immensely but there wasn't much he could do. It might not be too late to go to the hospital, but it was definitely too late to try to amend the situation.
Even though it had earned him the hardest slap he ever got in his life, he was strangely glad he had told Irene the truth about Standard's death, that he had offered to take both her and Benicio and run away if she wanted to do so, but he was even gladder for having told her goodbye although he hadn't heard from her ever since.
Standard had died and not only there was anything that could change that as there was nothing he could have done to prevent it at the scene from happening either, but the burden was too heavy to let him go forward.
Besides, he couldn't think only of Irene. Benicio liked him and he was fond of the kid too. He might be too little to know the full story but he would grow up and would ask questions about his father's death eventually. How could they look at each other then? One wouldn't be able out of shame and remorse and the other couldn't out of disgust and rage. Despite what happened now, he was responsible for getting Standard killed. Irene would be left torn between them and he would never compete with motherly love. No, he couldn't put both of them through any of that. His role in Standard's death would always hang over them, menacingly.
The body count he had left behind was too high already to let him live in peace with his conscience and allow him to welcome any shot at happiness, even though he didn't regret everything that he had done completely. His intentions had been the best.
When Standard came home, he acknowledged that he had probably lost Irene and Benicio forever, but he couldn't let anything bad happen to them. That was why he had wanted to help him in the first place. The possibility that he was someone who had paid for his mistake and that was now trying to be a better man, father and husband had never been a big part of the equation. The impulse to protect them was much stronger than any selfish inclination he might had had. He had truly wanted to bring Standard home in one piece, give the money to whoever was demanding for it and get over with it all. He never wished for Cook, Blanche, Nino, Bernie and all the mess they brought along.
He wasn't oblivious to the risks attached; that's what you get from being in business with people like those but he had harbored some hope things could be solved at once.
Standard had been collateral damage and so had Blanche. He didn't care particularly for her and yet he didn't mean to get her killed but the two guys that had shot their way into the motel room had been taken down for pure survival reasons. It was either him or them. Live or die. The same reason prodded him to end up killing the guy who rode the elevator with him and Irene, ready to finish him or even both. He had probably lost her when she saw what he was capable of but he couldn't let him walk around free, ready to accomplish his mission at any time. No. He didn't regret that but he was even less remorseful about having killed Nino. He wanted to be the mafia big-shot but he was pathetic. Dangerous, it was true, but pathetic. There…Laughing and drinking while many lives had been ruined because of him and how many were being at that same exact moment. No. It was a drop in the ocean but it was one less of his kind walking the face of the Earth.
He barely recalls how he got home. How he was able to drive, when his hands were shaking so much, his legs were trembling and his breath was so fast he could hardly take any at all. In front of them, he kept this weakness at bay, but when that apparent ruthlessness disappeared, he was nothing more than a guy in the middle of something way over his head, a feeling always very heavy but that seemed that would smother him when he saw Shannon on the floor by a car. Blood coming from a wound on his forearm soaked his clothes and he was very still but even though the rational part of the younger man told him that the other was dead, the emotional side prodded him to check his pulse. He had warned him to get out of town so much he had been mad at him. 'You're being overreacting, Kid; I'll talk to Bernie and we'll solve this'. Even if it had given him a limp that would last for his lifetime, Shannon hadn't learnt his lesson at first and it ended up killing him.
From all those that had died, Shannon had been the one that had cost him the most. They weren't exactly friends but they got along well and he owned him having accepted him no questions asked, indirectly allowing him to stay in LA. His had been the first workshop he had come across. He was only looking for a job as a mechanic; the rest came by chance – both the stunt work and the getaway driving arrangements. He signed up for both. He hadn't much to lose and despite not being a man of big expenses, money always comes in handy. He was quite indifferent to the heists, just wanting those five minutes to end, preferably without any police involved, but there were times when he almost liked doing the stunts, even though he didn't watch the films afterwards and fame didn't do much for him. The hoard of make-up artists and assistants of all kinds lurking from every corner didn't either. He had gone out with a couple of them but that had been it. He wasn't a man given to great passions or thrills whether for things or people.
Until Irene came along, that is, and he couldn't quite know why. He had never dwelled much on its reasons but now that he was thinking of it, he guessed it had something to do with the balance between her fragility and her strength and her really tight sense of reality that despite it all still allowed her to wonder «what if».
He was less sure of things now and was finding concentration extremely difficult but the name «Bernie Rose» kept running around his head, stubbornly, tempting him to think about everything he was wanting to forget once again.
Bernie Rose. He of the smooth talk and the undercover menaces, the great plans and always, in his own words, the better option.
He wished he had taken another look at Irene's face, had entered in a last blinking contest with Benicio, had been able to come home one last time.
In the end, Bernie had been right. Any dreams he had, any plans would have to be put on hold. But the girl would safe and he wouldn't have to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.
Irene had thought a lot about what to do next. Her decision was even harder because of her son and how Standard's memory and feelings for him were so poignant. At the same time, she couldn't pretend that knowing that he'd do whatever it took to protect them hadn't mover her. It had been brutal, violent and cruel but it had been heartfelt and it wasn't his fault that everything had gone so wrong.
She knocked on the door but got no answer. Her heart tightened. Maybe he hadn't indeed come back from whatever he had to do.
AN: I'm aware that both a film and a book sequel are scheduled so Driver didn't die but I had this idea for a while because that was my impression right after the film ended. For me, Driver had bled to death while keeping on driving. Besides, Nicolas Winding Refn reportedly filmed a scene where the Driver actually dies after he and Bernie stab each other. It was said to be used during an early test screening.
It's also true that part of the uniqueness of the film may reside in the fact that we know so little of these characters and yet we end up rooting for them and taking an interest in their lives but I've found myself building this other portrait of what Driver might had been before coming to Los Angeles.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Reviews will be highly appreciated.