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Silent Counsel


Silent Counsel

Chapter 1

The metallic blue BMW responded to the driver's slightest touch. He barely feathered the accelerator, and the Z4's powerful three-liter, 255-horsepower engine propelled the roadster through the curve. He depressed the clutch, nudged the gearshift into third, and applied just a little more pressure to the gas. The sports car reacted, and virtually hurled him into the straightaway. Because the temperature on this third Saturday in June had already been well into the nineties when he started out in the morning, he had taken down the convertible top, and a hot wind whipped through the car. He inhaled deeply and breathed in the fresh sea air.

It was unusual for him to go in to work on a weekend, but the foreman at one of his sites had called him this morning with some nonsensical problem. Ordinarily he would have troubleshot it over the phone, but since he'd taken delivery of the Bimmer last week, he'd found himself looking for excuses to go for a spin. Almost forty years old, he thought, and I'm acting like a kid with his first set of wheels. He had put in a perfunctory appearance at the site, made his escape, and was now cruising along the waterfront before making his way back to the Garden State Parkway for the drive home.

He slowed and pulled alongside the curb, tipped his wraparound sunglasses back on his head, and looked out over the water. A brisk wind had developed, and the bay was alive with sailboats from the nearby Raritan Yacht Club. Some of the smaller craft that were tacking against the wind tipped precariously, and their crews, secured to the masts by harnesses and cables, stood atop the gunwales and leaned far out over the water to keep their boats aright. Masters, testing the limits of their craft.

His hand caressed the black leather of the passenger seat, and he once more considered whether he should have gone with the beige. The contrast would have been nice, and he knew the lighter color wouldn't absorb so much of the heat in the summer, but in the end he'd gone with the sleek elegance of classic black. The blue-black combination was striking, and the entire car exuded power.

He wondered what the limits of his piece of machinery were. He couldn't very well check the claimed top speed of 155 miles per hour, at least not here, but the boast of zero-to-sixty in 5.6 seconds was easily verifiable. He craned his neck around and saw that the long, straight expanse of Water Street was quiet and empty. His time trial would, by its very nature, take only a matter of seconds. It would be over before any trouble could ensue.

Dropping his Oakleys back over his eyes, he took the leather-wrapped steering wheel in his left hand, and rested his right on the shift knob. The clutch went down with just the right amount of resistance, and he pushed the gearshift forward into first. He looked at his wristwatch, and waited as the second hand crept forward.

A glance in the side-view mirror confirmed the continued stillness of his self-styled test track. The second hand swept past twelve, and he simultaneously popped the clutch and punched the accelerator. There was a squeal of rubber against asphalt, and the car lurched forward.

As he shifted quickly through the gears, his eyes flitted between speedometer and road. The acceleration was, as he'd expected, impressive. The needle leaped to fifty in what seemed no time at all, and it was still climbing. He glanced down at his watch to check his progress, and saw that he still had time to make his mark.

THWACK! He looked up.

What the...?


Something bounced on his hood, smacked into the windshield, and rolled off onto the street. He slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop. He turned around, and looked out over the back of his open car.

That's not a kid, is it? Shit. Oh shit.

A small boy. Lying motionless in the middle of the street.

Where the hell did he come from?

He reached for the door handle, his hand shaking.

Not good. Not good. He's not moving. Just came out of nowhere, I hit him, now he's not moving.

His mind swirled, and he was dizzied by the cacophonous uproar pulsing in his head. Not only his hand, but now his entire body was shuddering, quaking uncontrollably.

Dead? Couldn't be. But what if? Could I have killed him?

He forced himself to breathe. Tried to force his racing mind to slow down.

I have to think.

He looked down the street, past the figure in the road. No one there. Quickly, side to side. No one. Forward, also clear.

Have to think...Can't...

He willed his foot to be still, but it continued to quiver as he pressed on the clutch. His right hand trembled, but he managed to move the gearshift into first.

I'll figure out what to do. But not here.

There was another screech of tires, and he sped away.

© Ken Isaacson

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