“Well, you are in it now, Kevin” he said to himself as slid into the seat of the old Chrysler. “Tim, you idiot, Tim!” he said as soon as the last thought had registered in his badly preoccupied mind. “If I am smart enough to fake my death and create a new identity and a new life, I am surely smart enough to remember my new name.”
Kevin opened the long door and slid onto the indian blanket that covered the seat of the ’67 Chrysler that would be part of his new identity. A single “Na-Rayre” from the starter and the big 440 fired, ready to power its owner to a new life. As he felt the “click” of the heavy chrome seatbelt buckle, it started to hit home: “You are really doing this, aren’t you.”
As he eased forward towards the deserted gravel service lane that would lead to the County Road, he wondered for a moment if it was too late to turn back. “No”, he decided, “you can’t plan this for a solid year and then throw it all away. Besides, then you would need to find another way to deal with all the shit you just left behind. A new life as an anonymous whatever of a guy is a piece of cake compared to what I have to handle if I go back as Kevin.” As the old hardtop moved slowly towards the blacktop, he kept the lights off to stay hidden. If someone saw a strange car pulling out of the road just across the lake from the parked BMW with the suicide note, the whole thing could blow up. Fortunately, there was nothing but moonlight as he guided the old Newport onto the asphalt out in the middle of freaking nowhere.
The problem for Kevin was that he had fallen in with some bad people, who had gotten him into some bad business. The kind for which the only way out is death. Or prison. So, death it would have to be, at least so far as everyone else was concerned. It had been so easy for an accountant of Kevin’s skill to fake the financials of all of those shell companies. That sort of thing had earned the million dollar home near the lake, the three BMWs and Lorena, the trophy wife. Some trophy she turned out to be, though. Her spiraling alcohol and drug use was really putting the high into high maintenance.
The old Chrysler was proving to be every bit the antidote to Kevin’s depression as he had hoped it would be. The throaty burble of the exhaust was comforting, as was the soft green glow that glinted from the many chromed surfaces of that lovely old dash. It brought back memories of childhood, a childhood that was as carefree as the life he hoped to start as Tim. As a young man, Kevin had been lured away from his simple, country upbringing to a life of success in the city. “They say you can’t go home again, but I’m gonna give it one helluva try.”
Kevin had known that a life as a shady numbers guy could not last forever. Sooner or later, things would start to crumble as a life built on sand inevitably must. “Yes, the only way is to go out now when everything is running smoothly. Wait until everything begins to go to shit, and everyone starts sniffing around. Do it now, and it’s just another miserable rich asshole who can’t handle his middle-aged unhappiness.”
The couple’s inability to have children had, at long last, become an asset instead of the giant regret of Kevin’s life. Lorena would be left with a big life insurance payout to go along with the note about how he just couldn’t do it anymore. He felt a little bad for her, but as a practical man, knew that she was already as miserable as was humanly possible. He had not been able to do anything about that in life, but maybe the shock of his death would somehow jolt her into starting a new life of her own. Maybe. His clothes were starting to dry as the rush of fresh air from the cowl vents swirled around him.
He had been lucky to find this car. He had come to know these well as a youth. A ’68 Dodge Polara had been his first car, which he had bought from his Uncle Vern. Simple and stout was what he needed now. And cheap. The old farmer who had been talked into selling this one had unknowingly done Kevin quite a favor when he attacked the the dull, rusting finish with the innumerable spray cans of flat black RustOleum. An old car like this can make folks want to strike up a conversation with you. This one sort of had the opposite effect. Kevin wondered if it made him look a little too much like a drug dealer or child molester, but decided that it was better to err on the side of offputting.
“Timothy F. Mead”, Kevin kept repeating to himself over and over. He had not chosen the name, but had accepted the suggestion of the shadowy man from the next state over who had overseen creation of the new identity. He knew the man only as “Ronnie”, which was certainly not his real name. Of course, Kevin was not in much of a position to judge a man for using a fake identity. This was something he would have to get used to, along with the Chrysler’s power steering and power brakes that were so unlike the cars he had driven over the past twenty-five years or more. But it was coming back, how comfortable it was to rest the heel of his right hand at six o’clock on the rim of the big, slick wheel, and how just the hint of a press on the wide brake pedal would haul the big Newport to a stop.
This was going perfectly, just as Kevin had oh-so-meticulously planned. He had left plenty of clues about his spiral into depression (which had only partly been a ruse). His plan to trailer the boat to the reservoir and to head it towards the spillway where the recent heavy rains had caused the river on the other side of the dam to move swiftly, a perfect way for a body to disappear to who knows where. He was a good swimmer and was nearly to shore on the other side when the boat went over the dam. “Good riddance, Kevin.”
As he stopped at the intersection with the State highway, he was starting to embrace being Tim. “Tim is going to kick this Chrysler’s ass” chuckled Kevin as he tromped on the big gas pedal. The right rear wheel broke loose with a long squeal as the big Mopar opened all four barrels of the carb and thrust the car ahead like an airliner at takeoff. The tires chirped slightly as the old Torqueflite smacked into second at about 50. As the long red needle effortlessly climbed past 85, Kevin lightened up on the gas and began to slow back down to something approaching legal speed. He had not noticed the white Charger nestled between some trees along the side of the road, at right about the place where the Newport had loudly powered through 75 on this 60 mph stretch of pavement. “Shit! Shit! Shit!” screamed Kevin, as the red lights reflected into his eyes from his mirrors.
The human body is programmed to respond to stress in two ways – either fight or flight. Kevin agonized for what seemed like twenty minutes, but was more like ten seconds. “A speeding ticket” he decided “is a better outcome than trying to lose that hemi Charger and not getting it done.” Kevin pulled the Chrysler over, as he repeated “Timothy F. Mead” over and over again. This was the only thing to worry about. After all, Timothy F. Mead had bought and titled the car, and had paid for the license and insurance. Everything was legal, so if he could keep the name straight he was golden.
Kevin let the car idle as he handed his license to the trooper. This wouldn’t take long; ten minutes and they would both be on their respective ways. Until he noticed that the trooper had his gun drawn. “Timothy F. Mead, step out of the car with your hands in plain sight”, barked the State Trooper. Kevin opened the door and put his hands on his head, in complete panic and bewilderment, wondering what could possibly be happening. “Timothy F. Mead, you are under arrest for grand theft, fraud, counterfeiting, and a half-dozen Federal warrants to boot. We’ve been looking for your sorry ass for a long, long time. Frankly, I’m a little surprised to see you back in this State. Welcome home, Timmy, welcome home. Your new life awaits.”