It began as a rattling noise.
“Turn the volume up,” Mari said in the backseat.
Donna was the one to indulge Mari’s wish. She didn’t turn it too loud knowing that having the radio up that high makes me uncomfortable while I’m driving. She began singing along and was followed promptly by Mari. I found myself singing too.
Until I noticed a vibration rippling through the steering wheel. I stopped singing and focused on the wheel shaking in my loose grip. The couldn’t feel it yet. I tightened my grip and blocked them out as best I could.
The rattling got louder and the vibration became a bucking.
“Turn it up some more,” Mari pushed again.
I spotted a sign for the next exit but we were still ten miles away and it was only getting worse. From the corner of my eye I spotted Mari’s hand reaching for the radio knob from between my seat and Donna’s.
“Shut up Mari!” I snapped and punched the button so that the radio went dead. I pulled off to the side of the highway and put the hazards on. The other cars continued flashing past. Donna had her cell phone out and ready. I pulled the AAA card from my purse and dialed the number.
“Sounds like it might be your tires,” the operative on the other side shouted into his end. “We’ll get someone out to you as soon as we can. I’ll let the state police know you’re out there. They might swing by to check up on you.”
“So we’re just supposed to sit here and wait?” Mari whined.
I glared at her in the rearview. It wasn’t her fault I was having car problems but her attitude was making me furious. There I was, trying to be safe, responsible, with my friends’ lives in my hands, and she had the audacity to complain.
Donna saw I was about to boil over and she jumped in before I could bite her head off. “We’ve got the board games in the trunk,” she suggested. “And there’s the leftover food too.”
“Do you really think having a picnic on the side of the highway is a good idea? Besides, all the board games have small pieces. I’m not chasing Monopoly money into oncoming traffic,” Mari said, reverting to her default setting: sarcasm.
“Instead of complaining, why don’t you do something productive? Go check out that sign up there,” I said pointing. “See where we are so we’ll know where we are.”
Mari climbed out and started walking. She stopped before reaching the sign and bent to look at something in the grass.
“What d’you think she found?” Donna asked.
“A body,” I said with a chuckle. Donna laughed too.
A state trooper stopped to check on us. He was gone before Mari came rushing back to the car.
“Guys! Guys! I found bones!”
Donna and I stared at each other. We didn’t know if we should laugh or scream.