General Fiction posted October 5, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
A character study.

Designated Driver

by DonandVicki

"Keep your mouth shut," my father growled under his breath, "I will do the talking." He slurred.
I shrunk down in the front seat of my father's 1956 Pontiac as the Ohio State Trooper pulled us over and approached our car from the driver's side. It was dark, but I could see his gray uniform with the Smokey the Bear hat. He shined his baton-like, silver flashlight in my Dad's face, then in mine.

"Step out of the car, Sir."

My dad and I had been fishing on Lake Erie all day in his boat and while I fished, he drank beer. After he drank a six pack, he started in on a half empty bottle of whiskey. Then after he was good and drunk, and it was late in the evening, I took the boat back to shore. He wanted me to drive, but I was only fourteen.

"Let me see your driver's licence," the Officer watched as my father walked holding on to the car, "have you been drinking?"

"I had a few beers at the lake fishhhhing, Officer." My dad started slurring his words.

"What were you thinking driving under the influence with a boy in the car?"

"I swear Offffficer, I only had a few beers." My dad said, becoming more agitated.

"The reason that I pulled you over is because you were driving erratically. Not only that but I can smell your breath and you reek of alcohol."

"Please Officer, our house is only a few miles down this road."

"I'll follow you home, but the boy rides with me."

I got in the back of the State Trooper's car. I felt sorry for my Dad as he drove home way too slow, using his brakes a lot.

"How much has he had to drink today?"

I didn't want to answer, afraid that I would make matters worse for Dad, and I didn't want to lie to the police.

"It's alright son, I'm just going to give your dad a stern warning."

"He's had a couple beers." I said, knowing that the officer realized I was trying to protect him.

My father pulled into our driveway and the Officer walked up to the driver's side.

"Shame on you for endangering your son like that, he is scared and still trying to protect you. This is just a warning, however if I ever pull you over again for drinking, with or without the boy in the car, I will personally take you to jail, understood?"

"Yes Officer, you have my word."

I could tell that my dad was starting to sober up from the reality of the situation. I watched the patrol car pull out of our driveway.
My dad looked at me with anger in his eyes, "Don't you dare tell your mother anything about this, do you understand?"

"Yes sir." I said timidly.

"Now, get your ass in the house and go to bed."

My mother was working at St. Chares Hospital so she wouldn't have been waiting up for us. She was the only one working, my Father had lost his job due to his drinking. He claimed he had been 'laid off' due to work being slow, but he had been out of work close to a year. My Mother was the only one putting food on the table and a roof over our head. Not to mention beer and booze for my father.
The next morning Mom wasn't home yet, so I asked my Dad, "Where's Mom?"

"She had to pull a double shift," he said, sipping his first beer of the day, "Get your clothes on, it's high time you learn how to drive."

My knees felt weak, as I knew this would not turn out to be a pleasant father and son experience.
For the next few weeks my Father drove us out to the country and had me get behind the wheel. Every time I braked suddenly, stepped on the gas too hard or stalled the car out he would swear at me.

"You stupid shit, drive like I showed you."

His anger was getting worse, to the point where I would stall the car out every time we were at a stop sign or railroad crossing. Not on purpose, but because I was so afraid of his explosive temper.
We arrived at our house and my shirt was soaking wet from stress. I thought that the day and lesson was over when my dad became violent. He threw his beer at me and the can struck the side of my head, suds all over me and the inside of the car.

"It's obvious you are too dense to learn how to drive," he shouted.

"Please Dad, don't." I started crying.

"You big crybaby, why don't you toughen up and be a man? Get out of the car and let a real man drive," he said, as he backhanded me with his clenched fist, "I will show you the right way to drive for the hundredth time."

Blood squirted out of my nose and ran down my face as Dad got out and started to walk around the front of the car. The anger and frustration became too much. I was crying and angry at the same time. I put the car in gear and ran right over the top of him. The rear wheels spun on my Dad's body. I slammed on the brakes, shut the engine off and ran back to my Dad's lifeless body. I heard my Mother screaming as she ran out to us.

"What happ..., oh my God!" My mother held her hands up to her mouth.

Quickly she bent down to search for a pulse.

"He's dead," my mother looked me in the eyes, "what happened?"

"Dad was teaching me how to drive, he got out and the clutch slipped, I ran over him," I said with tears running down my face, "it was an accident Mom."

"It's o.k. sweetheart, it's not your fault, your Father had no business teaching you how to drive at your age. He probably wanted to teach you how to drive so you could be his designated driver so he could just sit back and drink," My Mother said as she held me close, "go inside and clean up, I will call the police."

I slowly walked into the house and sat on the stairs, put my head in my hands and thought, what the hell just happened?

Character contest entry


The first half, three quarters of this story is spot on true. My Dad's drinking, our fishing at the lake, the Patrolman pulling us over and following us home. Remember this was the late 1950s, I guess there was no child protection services. As far as I remember, my dad didn't even get a ticket, no DUI. My dad wanted me to drive him to the bars so he could drink and not risk getting a ticket. All of that is true but I DID NOT run over him. No fathers were hurt in the writing of this. Did I want to kill him, you ask?.... I will never admit to that.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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