As soon as she stepped on to the jet bridge, Ainsley was ready to turn around and go back to Orlando. “What was I thinking, agreeing to come to Detroit in December?” she thought to herself as she stepped outside after retrieving her luggage. She rubs her hands together for warmth, knowing there wasn’t a thing she could do about the weather but just deal with it for the next twelve days. After a few minutes of waiting, she digs out her cell phone.
“Well, just when I was starting to think I was crazy telling people I had five children when there were only four,” her father Carl, Sr. says upon answering the phone.
“Yes, are you coming to get me?”
“No, Sissy. I couldn’t get the time off. Your brother’s on his way.”
“Tank or Boo?”
“Great, so I can be waiting another hour.”
“He’s on his way,” Carl, Sr. assures her.
Just then, the sound of loud music accompanied by a strong bass is heard in the distance, catching Ainsley’s attention. She looks down the road to see a rapidly approaching black Monte Carlo. Please don’t let this be my brother, she thinks. As the car gets closer, she groans. It was her younger brother — the personalized plate with his nickname gave it away. The freshly washed black Monte Carlo stops right in front her, the music echoing against the terminal walls. The others outside waiting for their rides all turn their attention to the car “Jesus, take me now,” she mutters, her face flushing hot.
“He’s here,” she tells Carl, Sr.
“Yeah, I can hear it. Tell him to cut that mess down before he gets a ticket.”
“I’ll see you when I get home. I have to get back to work.”
She disconnects the call just as her younger brother Royce jumps out of the car and says loudly, “Hey, Sissy!”
“Hey, Tank.” She replies, with no excitement in her voice.
He comes up to her and gives her a big hug. “I know you’re happy to see your little brother. You don’t have to tell me,” he says. Ainsley can’t help but look around and sure enough, all eyes are still on them. “Must you announce to everyone that you’re here?” she asks.
“Come on now, Sis. You know how I do.” He says with a smile. “Let me get your stuff.”
Ainsley settles into the passenger seat while Royce puts her bag in the trunk. Holding her hands to her ears, she looks for the volume on Royce’s radio. She locates the volume dial just as Royce gets inside the car and reaches to adjust it.
“Sissy, don’t be touching my music, now.” He says, smacking her hand.
“Tank, I’m about to bust my eardrums and I’m sure you’re breaking a noise ordinance. Turn it down, please.”
“Only because its you, Sissy. Consider yourself lucky, I don’t adjust my sound for nobody,” he agrees, reaching for the volume. “Better?”
“Yeah, a little.”
“So what’s been up with you, Sissy?” he asks as they leave the terminal.
“Same old stuff. Work and more work. How about you, baby brother?”
“You know, I’m chilling.” He answers.
“What kind of answer is that?”
“I’m saying, I’m cool. Just trying to make that money, keep things on the up and up.”
“Oh, Lord. You sound like Boo,” she says, referring to their older brother, Carl, Jr.
“What, are you trying to grow some facial hair?” she teases a moment later, touching the side of his face where his perfectly lined mustache was beginning to fill in.
“I’m a grown man, Sissy.”
“I see that,” she laughs.
“I’m glad you came home,” he tells her then.
“Did you miss me?”
“Of course. Cricket’s really looking forward to seeing you.”
“I’ll bet,” Ainsley says with a roll of her eyes.
As soon as Royce merges onto the highway, the sound adjusts itself and increases. It was pointless to talk over the music, so she just observes her 23 year old brother, leaning to the side, his head moving back and forth to beat of the music. It doesn’t take long before Royce surpasses the speed limit on I-94, weaving effortlessly in and out of traffic. As they approach the Southfield Freeway, Ainsley spots the blue Michigan State Trooper vehicle parked off to the side. “Tank, slow down.” Ainsley warns him.
“What?” He yells over the music.
“Slow down!” She repeats.
“Huh?” He says again, just as he races by the trooper’s vehicle. Instantly, the trooper turns on his light and pulls off, catching up with them. Royce sees the siren and says, “Damn. Sissy, why didn’t you warn me?”
“I just did.”
“I didn’t hear you,”
“I wonder why,” Ainsley states, reaching for the volume yet again.
As they pull over, Royce asks, “Think he’ll give me a warning?”
“You were going at least 20 miles over. I doubt it.”
“Man,” he mutters, sucking his teeth. “Please don’t go mouthing off. I just want to get to the house.” She reaches into his glove box to find his registration and insurance card. “Where’s your proof of insurance?”
“See, what had happened was…” Royce begins.
“What the hell, Tank? How can you not to have auto insurance?”
“My boy was hooking me up with the rims, right? So I was gonna pay it next week,”
“How long has it lapsed for?”
“Come on, stop badgering me, Sissy. Car insurance is expensive.”
“Yeah and so are rims. I hope the officer is as understanding of your need to have rims over insurance.”
“Maybe he won’t ask.”
“At least your registration is current,” she says just as the officer taps on the driver’s side window.
“How ya doing, officer?” Royce asks cheerfully. “Happy holidays,” he adds, in attempt to win him over.
Unfazed, the officer asks for Royce’s license and registration. “Mr. Griffin,” he begins, “where were you off to in such a rush?”
“I had to pick up my sister from the airport.”
“And since the airport’s in the other direction, I assume this young lady here is your sister?” He asks, looking in Ainsley’s direction.
“Yeah, she lives out of town. I was really happy to see her and we was just catching up.”
“Please don’t drag me into it,” Ainsley says quietly, almost to herself.
“So, you were catching up and not paying attention to your speed?”
“I won’t lie to you, sir. I wasn’t. Can I just get a holiday warning? I promise to go under the speed limit from now on.”
“I don’t think so, Mr. Griffin. You were doing 85 in a 65. I’ll be back.” He says before walking away.
“Nicely done, Tank. You can’t charm your way out of a ticket, though.”
“Man, if that was a woman, I could. Charm her pants right off.”
“Aww, Sissy. You’ve been gone too long. Your baby brother’s the ladykiller. Making them panties drop.” He says with a laugh.
“TMI, Tank.” She repeats. “That is the last thing I want to hear.”
“Uh-oh,” Royce says a few minutes later.
“What?” Ainsley asks.
“Another trooper,” he says.
“What?” She asks, beginning to turn around so she can see.
“Don’t turn around!” He says. “You’ll mess around and get us shot.”
“Why are there two of them?”
“Look, Sis. Just be easy.” He says, eyeing the side mirror. “Now, I need you get rid of something for me.”
Panic begins to rise in Ainsley’s stomach. “Get rid of what?” She asks.
“I’ma grab it from under the seat. Just take it. If you get caught, they’ll go easy on you, being female and a first time offender.”
“What the hell do you have in here?” she exclaims.
“Come on now, Sis. Just do this for me.”
“I’m not going to prison, not even for you.”
“You can’t take one for the team?”
Just then Royce bursts out laughing. “What are you laughing for? You’ve got God knows what in this car and there are two troopers outside. One for the both of us.”
“Damn, Sissy, I was just messing with you. Just relax. You know these cops travel in packs just to hand out speeding tickets.”
“You think you’re real funny, don’t you?”
“You should see your face right now,” He laughs. “You was all scared, thinking you was headed to the pokey.”
“Not cool, Tank. I don’t play with the law.”
“Of course Miss “by-the-book” doesn’t play with the law,” he says mockingly. “Just chill out, Sissy. Ain’t nothing in here.”
After a few more moments, the trooper returns and says, “Mr. Griffin, step out of the vehicle.”
Ainsley slumps in her seat. Please don’t tell me he has warrants, she thinks to herself as embarrassment begins to set in.
“Is this about my insurance? Cuz I can get that paid up.” Royce says quickly, beginning to panic himself.
“No, Mr. Griffin. This is about your suspended license, but now we can add driving without insurance to your charges.” He replies. “Now, step out of the vehicle.”
“Oh, my God,” Ainsley mutters and drops her head. Royce does as instructed and gets out of the car. The other trooper taps on the passenger door and tells Ainsley to get out.
“What about my car? I can’t have it impounded.”
“I would worry less about your car and more about your sister being stranded. Your vehicle is uninsured and shouldn’t be on the road.” The other trooper says Royce is handcuffed. “Ma’am, your license.” He then tells her.
“Do you really have to do that? Handcuff my brother?” Ainsley asks, handing her id to the trooper beside her.
“It’s procedure, ma’am,” States the arresting officer.
“Sissy, tell Mama to call Vanessa.” He instructs loudly as he’s being led to the trooper’s vehicle.
“Who’s Vanessa?” she wonders aloud. The officer next to her tells her where Royce is going before saying, “He’ll need to go before the judge tomorrow so he won’t be coming home tonight.”
“Great,” she says. “I’m not even here 30 minutes and you’re hauling my brother off to jail. Typical Griffin madness.”
“Florida, huh?” he asks, still looking at her license.
“For over ten years.”
“Home for the holidays, huh?”
“Yeah, though I’m beginning to wonder why.”
“For what it’s worth, welcome home, Miss Griffin.”
“It wouldn’t be proper without greetings from Michigan’s finest.”
“Listen, Miss Griffin. I’m going to cut your brother and you a break since you just got to town. Take his car straight home.”
“Happy Holidays, ma’am.”
“Right,” she scoffs.
As she settles into the driver’s seat, she thinks, Here we go with the antics and I haven’t even gotten to the house yet.
“12 Days” ©2010 by Dahlia Savage. All rights reserved.