The Butterfly Effect. Part 1.

“Stacy are you going to Marco’s birthday party?” asked Amber, one of the girls I worked with at the Corvette diner.
“I don’t know. I want to, I really do,” I told her, “But I had a class at 7:00 this morning. After a whole day of school and a whole night of work, I’m burnt.”
“Oh just come by for one drink,” she said. “You know it will break his little heart if you’re not there.” I knew Amber spoke the truth on this one. The employees of the Corvette Diner were a tight knit group and Marco was one of my Hispanic gay soul mates. He and Jose were like the Two Amigos, bussing tables and spreading “You can’t touch this,” all over the Hillcrest area. They were roommates and they were Fabulous. To miss one of their birthdays would be a cardinal sin from which I might never recover.

At the time, I was working as the Soda Jerk (insert joke here). Meaning that I got the pleasure of making all the desserts, shakes and other tasty treats for the entire restaurant Being a Soda Jerk was no picnic. I used to have dreams of being elbow-deep in ice cream while order after order would shoot out of my ticket station. “For the love of all that is holy make it stop! ” By the end of one of these shifts you would have made countless desserts, carried three times your weight in malt glasses, tubs of ice cream, and whip cream containers. On top of all that, I was closing which meant that I had to stay until the very end.

It was around midnight when the on-duty manager finally let me go for the night. I was able to locate the gay bar where Marco was hosting his party, and it was actually a pretty cool little bar. Nothing like I pictured, knowing Marco. He was usually pretty flamboyant, so I was expecting something a bit more razzle-dazzle but this was perfect for the Corvette Diner crowd. There were about 15 of us and we were able to take over a side portion of the bar. I ordered a Heineken and sat down with the group while nursing my beer. My beer and I only lasted about an hour before the day caught up with me and I knew I needed to get my ass home before I fell asleep on the bar. This crowd carried Sharpies, and liked to draw on people who passed out. So I wanted to get out of there before I became the next victim of the now infamous giant black cock coming out of the mouth drawing. So I kissed everyone good-bye and got back in my car to head for home.

I lived pretty close to home, but Marco’s bar was in a new area for me and I didn’t have any idea where I was. I decided to head back to the diner and try from there. I’ve got a pretty good internal compass, so I started to get worried when I had been driving for a while and still hadn’t found 5th street. Granted, Hillcrest isn’t the worst place to get lost if you’re a girl. The worst thing that might happen is getting shown up by a drag queen with a better ass than mine. But still. It was late and I was exhausted. Where in the hell was the 163 Freeway? 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” was playing on the radio, and I wasn’t in the mood. Normally I liked the Non Blondes, but it had just been one of those days. I reached down for one second to switch the radio station and my car was suddenly flooded with light. I looked to my left and saw two headlights flying right at me.

Oh, shi-

I don’t know how long I was out, but I’m guessing it was only a few seconds or someone would have been at my car trying to help me. When I came to I was slouched over the steering wheel and my car was no longer running. It was, however, on top of the curb and wedged into a streetlight. Interesting. I pulled my head up, shook the cobwebs and tried to start it up again. Nothing. Oh, right. It’s still in drive. So I calmly put the gearshift back into park and started the car back up. I have to get this car off the road, I thought. I pressed on the gas, and the car came up slightly on the left back tire and came down with a crash. Okay, so we’re not in the streetlight anymore. I drove the car off the road with an up, down, up, down. It was as though my car was a person with one leg considerably shorter than the other. It was only a couple of feet before I could turn into the nearest parking lot and I pulled in, up, down, up, down, up, down, and parked my car very legally into a parking spot.

I tried to open the driver’s side door but it was stuck. Must’ve been the oncoming car that did that. Rather than climb out the passenger door, I lay down over the center console and proceeded to kick the hell out of my door until it finally popped open and hung from a bolt. Freedom. I stepped out of the car and tried to shut the driver’s door a number of times before I just gave up. That’s when I noticed a small group of about three people who were standing there, staring at me. I walked over to one of the guys very matter of factly and asked, “What just happened?” He just looked at me with his mouth hanging open like he had just seen someone rise from the dead. Oh no! Am I dead?
“Are you okay?” he asked me.
“Yeeeeah,” I told him. I think I’m okay. “What happened?”
“Why don’t you sit down,” a girl in the group suggested. She was giving me the same look that her friend was giving me.
“No, I’m good. What happened?” I asked again.
“You ran a red light and that guy over there just t-boned your car,” the girl told me, pointing at something that used to be a compact car.
“Oh,” was all I said. Then I walked off towards the guy who hit me.
“Oh my God! She’s in shock. We should call someone,” I heard over my shoulder as I walked away.

I went over to the little crumpled up car and there were two guys standing there looking at the damage. “Hi, I’m Stacy. I’ve been told I ran a red light and you hit me.”
“Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?” the owner of the crushed car asked me. Again with the sitting down thing? What the hell is wrong with these people?
“No, I’m fine,” I promised him. “Listen, it’s been a long day. Shouldn’t we exchange information or call the cops or something?”
“Um yeah, about that. You see, I’m a cop.”
Fuu-uuu-uck. This day just keeps getting better and better. And here I am with beer breath.
“Here’s the deal. I’m happy to exchange information with you and all that, but can we leave the police out of it?” he asked me.
“Um… okay.” Why does he not want me to call the cops?
“I’ve already had two accidents in the last 7 months and I can’t have anymore or I may get suspended,” he explained.
I didn’t know what to think at this point. I was only 23, exhausted beyond belief, and according to some eye-witnesses, I was in shock. At that point I might have agreed to bark like a dog. So I told him I was fine with that and we exchanged information and I was ready to go on with my life. The guy’s name was Frank and his buddy’s name was…Buddy? And they were indeed cops.

I said goodbye to Frank and Buddy, and started to cross the street where there was a payphone so I could call my boyfriend. Frank asked, “Do you have a way to get home?’
“I’m just going to make some calls,” I told him.
“Look. Buddy’s truck is right here. He was following me so we have a perfectly good automobile. Why don’t we give you a lift? Come on, we’re cops. We’re not going to kill you or anything.”
Ha, ha. Greeeeat. That’s what serial killers always say to their victims before they chop their heads off. But I was tired and it was now very early in the morning so I thought I’d take my chances with the cops/serial killers.
“Okay, I guess. Thanks.” I climbed into the truck and there we were. I was a Stacy sandwich in between two pieces of po-po bread. I was terrified that they would smell the Heineken on my breath, so I barely spoke and tried to breathe only through my nose. The last thing I needed now was to get thrown in the clink for drunk driving.

We finally made it to my apartment and I bolted out of that truck so I could finally catch my breath. I don’t think they’ve ever seen anyone move that fast. I could have been in a police training video. “And this is what a criminal looks like on the run. You need to watch out for this one in particular. We call her a Stacy. Mostly harmless, but charismatic, intelligent, and highly elusive. Looks innocent, but it’s merely a disguise.”
“You have a good night, now,” Frank said. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He was looking at me with his cop eyes. He was on to me!
“I’m fine, I promise,” I said, forcing a casual laugh to play it off. “And thanks for the ride. Sorry about your car.”

Surprisingly, I wasn’t lying to Frank. I did feel fine. How, I don’t know. I had been hit in the side by a car going roughly 40 miles an hour. My car had slid, sideways, into a curb and had taken out a streetlight. And I had walked away without a scratch. Weird. You gotta’ love American cars. I walked into my apartment and no one was home. All three of my roommates were out. I made a beeline for my bong and loaded it up. After taking a nice long hit, I just laid back and tried to regroup after the night’s events. I was alive. Good. I had kind bud to help relax me. Also good. I had just trashed my car, bad. I had not reported the accident to the police, also bad. I still had school, work, and the lead in a play, and I now had no way to get to any of these things. My life had suddenly taken a major shift, and all because I had decided to change the radio station at that moment. I now hated the 4 Non Blondes.

If I had been able to tolerate that stupid fucking song for one more second…
If I had come to my senses and changed the station one second earlier…
If I had stuck around the bar for a second beer (ironic)…
If I had left the bar earlier instead of sticking around to hear the end of Janice’s joke about the one-legged hooker…
If I had sped up.
If I had slowed down.
Great. Now I was stoned and contemplating all the different decisions I made that led me to this exact moment in time. I finally stopped when I got to the “if I hadn’t taken the job at Corvette Diner” strand. This was getting me nowhere. For now my day was over and life would work itself out. After a while I went into my room, crawled into bed, and fell into a very deep sleep. It was good that I slept that night because the next morning I was going to have a couple of new surprises waiting for me. That’s how the Butterfly Effect works.

To be continued…

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