Hello, everyone! I'm so sorry I've been away for such a long time - A - levels tend to make you lack in attention. ^^; Try not to worry; after finally getting off my fat ass, I read the reviews and people were eager for me to post Chapter 4. So I got off my ass again and posted it. Again, I'm so sorry for the delay! Enjoy! :)
The sky was white with a touch of overcast clouds mixing with the blank colour. Calley wasn't able to tell if it would rain or not as she and Herbie smoothly cruised through the streets around her neighbourhood. The trees only added a meagre speck of life to the otherwise dull, boring roads and houses. Everywhere was quiet too – no kids were playing outside, no ordinary folk were out walking their dogs along the sidewalk or bantering over anything that concerned them and no wind breezed through the avenue.
Calley found it all a little eerie; usually, the estate was full of noise and colour. She wasn't used to everything being so... lifeless. Lifeless...
Herbie was nervous too – he was used to Jim Douglas making conversation and hearing a constant, warm babble behind the wheel. Now, everything seemed alien without him. He still hurt too. Ever since Calley told him that Jim was gone, Herbie felt like a little hole was gnawing away inside him, gradually getting bigger. He was doing his best to live through it but it wasn't easy. At least he had Calley and at least they could live through it together.
"Oh Herbie..." Calley sighed heftily. She just didn't understand anything anymore. It was all just a jumbled, tangled mess of thoughts clumped together. Herbie groaned softly; he completely understood how it felt for thoughts to feel like a pulsing tumour on someone's conscience.
BANG! Something exploded beside them. Herbie went berserk, rearing up in a hasty wheelie and dashing off, with engine screaming and smoke billowing. Calley grasped the wheel and tried to stop the sudden frightened rampage.
"Herbie! Herbie!" Calley felt her lungs deflate sharply and her heart pound so hard she thought her ribcage couldn't take it. "Herbie, slow down! Wait!"
Herbie swerved wildly and his tyres screeched as Calley fought with the brakes. But he was totally overcome with fear – he could barely feel her wrestling at the gears, clutch and everything else she could find to make him stop.
Calley finally managed to bring Herbie under control and slow him to a stop by the side of the road. She collapsed back into the seat with her hand on her head, panting hard and sweat sticking her hair to the back of her neck. Herbie shook violently and sagged on the suspension – he felt very grateful that his engine was air-cooled or something worse could've happened. He tried to calm himself as his mind immediately went out for Calley, hoping she was okay. Why did he have to be so reckless like that?
Calley's head turned shakily as the window was tapped. Her blood ran icy cold and her heart stopped then sank. A man in black uniform rapped on the glass again. She twisted round, spotting the red and blue lights behind her swirling and flashing. After a while, she wound the window down.
"You, er – were going a tad fast, weren't you?"
"I'll bet it did."
"No, n-no, you d-don't understand – "
The officer motioned for her to explain. Calley took two raspy breaths.
"I – I was just d-driving along, s-see? And – well, something exploded be-behind me. I-I got startled and I... I'm so sorry, I just didn't think."
"Too right you didn't think, sweetheart. Let's see your licence."
"I said, let's see your licence."
Calley's blood temperature dropped another couple of degrees. She felt like lead as she fumbled into her back pocket for her licence card and gave it to the officer. He inspected it closely, his eyebrows making his eyes seem like beady black dots as they furrowed together. He turned to look at Calley then back at the licence a few times before asking her:
"How old are you, miss?"
"17. 17 and a quarter, to be precise."
The officer handed it back and eyed her suspiciously. Calley didn't like this – she desperately hoped he didn't say what she thought he would.
"I'm going to have to ask you to come with me please, miss."
"Where?" She cursed herself for being so pedantic.
"The candy store. Where d'ya think?" The officer tried to pull open the door but it stayed firmly shut. He tried again. Nothing. Calley felt that glance burn into her. Her veins had turned to ice.
'Herbie, please. Not now!'
Herbie felt Calley's fear and obediently opened the door. He watched from the rear view mirror as Calley was escorted to the black and white police car behind him and driven away. He felt upset but it quickly turned to frustration. Annoyance. Anger. How dare that guy take Calley away like that, how dare he! It wasn't fair – she hadn't done anything. It was him, he'd completely over-reacted. It was his fault. Herbie squirmed in his guilt. He felt terrible for dropping Calley into this situation – he also felt that he was now responsible to put it right. He had to help her. After all, they'd agreed to look out for each other.
Herbie saw the car drive out of sight and determination swelled in his tiny engine as he started himself, turned round and headed off after the police car. He'd help her; he'd stick right by her. He'd save her.
"What the hell do you mean 'you can't help me'?!"
Calley was screaming down the phone in outrage. She'd arrived at the station and was accused of speeding and reckless driving. She'd gotten off lightly and a fine of $200 was required. The cops had asked for her parents' numbers and she said that her parents had split up and that she was in care. They'd then asked for her carer's number and passed her the phone after a few minutes. At the rate she was going, Calley would have to pay for property damage too.
"I mean, I can't help you," Charisma buzzed over the static. "I'm late."
"For what? What could possibly be more important than helping me out of this goddamn mess?!"
"My manicure appointment, of course. It's gonna cost, like, $500."
Calley felt her heart drop, her brows furrow and her teeth grind. Her knuckles cracked around the plastic payphone.
"A manicure...? A goddamn, fu – What in the name of everything sane is WRONG WITH YOU?! You'd rather go to your precious little manicure than help to bail me out of jail? Why do I have such a mindless, senseless, prissy old HAG of a carer?!"
"Suck it up, bitch, you've got no-one else and just pay for it yourself!"
A raging grin spilt Calley's face like a walnut shell under a nutcracker.
"Yes, you are all I have because my mother's a dithering alcoholic, my father's either eloped or doing time and my uncle is goddamn dead. And did I also mention you work as a secretary for a telecommunications company? No, which begs the question as to why you'd rather go for a flaming manicure quite comfortably instead of, let's see, send me to school, bail me out of prison or even put food on the goddamn table?! Besides you never give me money to pay for anything," she added in a hot whisper.
"You're on your own, Calley. Bye." Click. Booooop, booooop...
Now Calley was in trouble...
'Gee, sure is quiet around here,' JJ mused to himself as he cruised around. He too had noticed how grey and mundane everything seemed and, while it didn't seem eerie in his mind, it did seem peculiar. The Sedan responded quietly and willingly as he rounded the corner into one of the quieter roads leading out of town. JJ sighed and shook his head before focusing on the road once more. Then, out of the blue, something whizzed by, shaking the BMW with some considerable force – JJ recognized the car as the Beetle that won in the street race yesterday. Without hesitating, the teen swung his car around and gave chase, soon being able to pull the car over whilst he parked the Sedan in a nearby car park. 'Rotten crazy driver... has Calley gone nuts or something?'
Herbie screeched up the road as fast as he dared, desperately hoping that Calley wasn't in too much trouble. They'd promised to stick out for each other through thick and thin and the little car wasn't about to back down on this promise. Calley, despite her fragility, was a kind and spirited driver; thoroughly reminding him of Jim Douglas when they'd first met. Suddenly, almost too late, Herbie saw a car cruising right towards him and realized that because he was in such a hurry, he was on the wrong side of the road! Paint was nearly traded as he swerved to avoid the oncoming vehicle and when he realized the car was following him, poor Herbie nearly bounced off the kerb in a flustered attempt to stop. His frames shook again as he tried to cool his hot engine; he shook even more when he saw the driver of the car walk towards him. He needed to calm down, stop being so jumpy. Everything was too fast for Herbie: too new, too hasty, and too confusing. In that single, frightened instant before he froze, Herbie wished more than ever that Jim Douglas' lullaby voice was there to console him.
JJ inspected the car all over; it was in good shape. The tyres were fine, no damage had been done to the bodywork of the Beetle but two things concerned him: the engine was very warm, much warmer than it should have been for a '63 Bug travelling at 60mph – he thought a regular servicing would fix that easily – and the driver's seat was vacant. Wait, vacant? JJ shut his eyes and turned his head away, pinching the bridge of his nose before turning back to look. No, he was not seeing things. This car had nearly just clipped him with no driver in the seat.
He was stunned – there was not another word for it: stunned. JJ also saw that there was no radio-controlling equipment rigged to, inside or under the car, eliminating the only reasonable idea he had as to why the car could drive itself. This was just... completely insane. JJ stepped back from the car and simply stared at it, dumbfounded, crossing his arms over his broad chest.
"How in the name of sanity do you work?" he asked himself.
Raised voices turned the attention to the building on the other side of the road: the police station. JJ turned his head at the noise – a fierce argument was brewing and JJ instantly knew one of the voices was Calley. Herbie heard the voices too and, as this human walked away across the tarmac, he could hear the heat from the shouts and protests billow into the air, making the whole atmosphere seem stormy and electric. Why couldn't everything just be simple and silent for once? Why?
"Oh come on! Please, this isn't fair at all!"
"Never mind 'fair' sweetheart, we have the legal power to do this."
Calley drew her fingers across her head and dug her thumb into her temple, propping her elbow on the counter in the small, dank reception area. She was near to totally losing it; after the call with Charisma, Calley had said to the receptionist that her carer was, in simple and polite terms, unwilling to pay the fine. As a response, the receptionist had stated that she had to sign a ticket and, since Calley was so young, if the $200 wasn't paid in the next 24 hours, she would have to appear in court. Now, Calley was frantically trying to save her bacon.
"Can't you do something? C-Call up my carer yourself, or – or – o-or even lower the fine a touch?! Then I may be able to pay!"
The receptionist, a wasted and tanned stick woman in her late forties, sorted some files and leant patronisingly over the desk. "And what do you suggest then, darlin'? $20? $2? Not very likely."
Calley sank into a chair in defeat. She was done for now. Totally and absolutely done for. She just wanted to cry. Why couldn't everything just be simple and silent for once? Why?
"Anything wrong in here?"
Both heads looked up at the sound of the voice: JJ strode casually in, his voice gentle, dissipating the entire atmosphere and melting it away. Calley got up and nervously but gratefully shuffled over to his side whilst the receptionist explained what happened. JJ nodded on occasion to show he understood and after all was out in the open, he smiled. Calley felt her feet inching her body closer to him.
"Don't worry, ladies: I think I can help you here."
"Oh JJ, you have no idea how much I owe you."
"Please Calley, it's perfectly fine – you don't owe me anything."
Calley snorted. "Yes I do – wake up, JJ. It's not every day a boy just randomly decides to throw a cheque for $200 dollars at you."
JJ shook his head again, patiently. "Calley. I'm honest here, you don't have to do anything for me and you don't owe me anything. OK?"
Calley nodded but her knees knocked together from the relief. A shiver ran through her body – the sky had become greyer and darker, with smoky black clouds looming overhead and she'd forgotten how chilly it had gotten. Just then, Her phone buzzed in her pocket, prompting her to take it out and press the answer button.
"Sorry, JJ – hello?"
"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, Calley, where the hell are you?! I've been so worried!"
"Charis, sl – slow down, will ya? Geez, I'm barely out of town and you go biting my head off about where I am. Just chill."
"It's getting late out – you should come home. I would come and get you but I don't know where you are and my car's – Oh. My. God. You have to listen to this, right? I was coming back from my manicure, and this little road-hog jerk on a motorcycle? He totally scratched my car. He made a scratch. On. My. Car! I do not believe it – Can you believe it? What kind of douche bag would make a scratch on MY car? Totally stupid, I know, right?"
Calley clicked the cell phone shut and mentally cursed herself for listening to Charisma rant. She also gave herself a reminder to beat Charisma down into the floor for not bailing her out before turning apologetically to JJ.
"Sorry about that."
"It's fine, fine."
"...Well, I guess I'd better get going, JJ."
"Okay." JJ turned towards his Sedan and watched Calley walk carefully towards the Beetle. His mind said she would be okay but his heart didn't.
She looked back.
"If you, uh... need anything... let me know, 'kay?"
Calley felt a strange sensation in her chest, almost a fluttering before nodding and climbing into her car. Herbie clicked on the heat as soon as she sat down and, as she watched the Sedan pull away, she couldn't help but wonder. What did she feel just now? Security? Compassion? Or was it something more, some thing like... friendship? Herbie crooned at her.
"Herbie... I think something wonderful is happening..."
Herbie's crooning lowered a key and his headlights seemed to lower like eyelids. He then twisted up the front bumper in a smile and shook himself gently, but very suggestively. He kept up that soft, low crooning and eventually, Calley caught on.
"Herbie... just - no. I'm not even gonna answer that. No."
The Beetle giggled childishly to himself as Calley started him up and the two set off for home.
Welp, there we go - there's Chapter 4. I hope it satisfies the needs of the hungry readers and reviewers out there. *giggle* I'll try my hardest to get on here a little more often if I can. Oh, I also discovered a while ago that I'd been on FanFiction for a little over a year or two now. Go me. ^^