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Our Fists Were Raised

Occurred: May 16, 2002
A few days later, it was time to head back to school. Sean and I survived the weekend with his parents. Well, of course he survived…he’s lived with these people for 22 years. I, on the other hand, managed to leave in one piece, with my clothes in tact for the rest of the weekend. We packed the car, fully equipped with our freshly washed laundry, and said our goodbyes.

His mom wrapped her arms tightly around me. “Bye Colleen! Take care of the boy, here. And remember what I told you…he tends to get cranky. It’s not you, it’s him!”

“I will definitely remember that, Mrs. Murphy.” I smiled. I liked his mom. She reminded me a lot of myself, maybe a tad more bubbly.

“Thanks so much again for everything, Mr. Murphy. I had a great time.” I smiled weakly, fearful that it appeared more like a grimace.

He smiled back, his eyes set on the stone pathway leading to their front door. “You’re very welcome. Come back any time.” His gaze shifted to my eyes, flashed a smile, then he quickly leaned in to give me one last sideways hug. Mr. Murphy was a very animated man, his eyes more expressive than any I’d ever seen. And even in this embarrassed state, they seemed to retain that special sparkle that I had seen in Sean many times before.

“I’d love to come back,” I said truly meaning it, “hopefully sooner than later.”

* * *

We’d been driving for a couple hours, still about 11 hours away from Georgia.

“I’m bored.” I looked at Sean who was reading a map while driving. We were obviously lost.

“What do you mean you’re bored? What about that bag you packed? The bag of ‘fun things to do’?” His sarcastic tone annoyed me. Every road trip I’d ever taken, I was always equipped with my ‘fun bag’ which was filled with books, crossword puzzles, and other various things to keep my mind off of peeing and sleeping.

“I already went through it all.”

“What do you mean you went through it all!?” His voice was very loud. “You slept the entire way up here and we’ve only been on the road for a couple of hours!”

I paused and the absence of music made the car echo silence. I don’t handle silence very well. “I’m bored,” I said again, slipping the map away from him. I’ve always had trouble reading maps. All those lines and highway numbers confused me.
“Are we lost?”

“No! Just give me back the map.”

“You shouldn’t read a map while driving. It’s dangerous.”

“Well, if you took your turn driving, I could read the map in peace.”

“Fine. After this toll, pull over and I’ll drive.”

His expression shifted to something I couldn’t read. “Give me the map, Colleen.” His tone was serious, and I knew that now was not the time to play keep away. I reluctantly handed him the map. “Shit,” he mumbled through clenched teeth.

“So we are lost.” I nodded.

“Just shut-up. Please.” His eyelids were heavy.

I opened my mouth to throw an insult his way, but snapped it shut. It really wasn’t the time to argue.

“Shit,” he said again. “Do you have any cash on you?”

“How much do you need?”

“I don’t know, but hurry.” He pointed ahead where we were rapidly approaching twelve archways. Government owned mouths ready to devour us and our money. Cars and vans were whizzing by us, flying past the green eyes telling us to go. Horns honked. Tires screeched. The wind wailed and I still had yet to find any cash.

“Oh! Here’s a dime!”

“I think we’ll need more than a dime, Colleen!”

“Ok, here’s a dollar!” I handed him a crumpled bill. “And a quarter!” It was wedged beneath my compact.

He accelerated as we found more money. “Oh, a nickel! Oh, my lipgloss!”

“That’s not going to help us.”

“No, but I’ve been looking for it all weekend.”


“Don’t worry, $2.27 is more than enough. Right?” Sean gave me an uncertain glance and over his shoulder on the side of the road, was a glorious sign that read, Toll: $1.50.

“HOORAY!” We both shrieked together.

“That’s right, tollbooth!” I yelled to the giant archway, “Eat my ass crack!”

“Sweet, an open lane,” he swerved to the right nearly standing my car onto two wheels.

“Watch it! No stunts in my car, mister!”

He rolled his eyes, but laughed regardless. We were triumphant, riding our silver horse toward the sun in a totally open lane. How often does that happen?

Sean sped up, ready to throw the money into the basket without so much as braking. He had a determined look on his face. His eyebrows were furrowed past the bridge of his nose and his head was lowered to the steering wheel. I glanced through the sunroof at the sign above the archway of our open lane.


“Haha, yeah fuck-tards! Take that!” Sean looked out the window at the drivers waiting patiently for their turns in the other lanes.

“Uh, honey…”

He ignored me. “Ohh, poow wittle things stuck in twaffic. All because you’re too chicken shit to take a chance on another lane. That’s what you all get!”


“What?” He rolled his window down with his right hand, holding the last of my cash in his left, while steering with his knees. Suddenly, I had to pee.


“Huh?” His head swiveled to look at me as he tossed the money out the window to where the basket should have been.


The change bounced off of the side of the booth making a surprisingly loud noise and my one dollar bill drifted off into the wind. I heard my change rolling away beneath the car. I opened the door to retrieve it.

“What are you doing!?”

“Getting my change,” I screamed as if he should already know. The empty lane was now filling up with cars behind us, pissed and honking. The yellow and white striped arm was lowering like a guillotine in front of our car.

“Shut the door!”


“Because I’m driving off whether it’s opened or closed!”

As I pulled my foot back into the car, Sean hit the gas, jolting the car and pinning me against the back of my seat. The door slammed shut beside me.

The arm continued lowering as the nose of the car slipped beneath it. Then the windshield. Then the roof. Then the trunk. Then we heard a bang as the arm karate chopped the bumper. At least it was a clean amputation.

We sat in silence, both pissed. I checked behind us, waiting to see flashing lights. Or hear sirens. Somewhere ahead, there was a cop waiting to pull over the reckless kids who flew through the E-Z-PASS lane. I checked behind us, again.

“Stop looking! No one is following us!” Sean barked.

“I don’t see what you have to be mad about. It’s my car that just had its bumper knocked off. It’s my car that’s going to be ticketed. If you had just slowed down a little, we would have had time to switch lanes. But, no…you had to go all Days of Thunder on me.”

He didn’t say anything, but stared ahead at the road.

“Are we going to get a ticket?” I looked at him, my eyes welling up with tears.

“Not if we don’t get pulled over.”

“Are you sure?”

He glanced at me without moving his head. The creases in his face deepened and he attempted to crack a reassuring smile. He’s a terrible liar.

“Yes,” he looked back at the road, “maybe.” As I said, he’s a terrible liar.

“Maybe?? What do you mean, ‘maybe’? Is my dad going to find out we used my car this weekend?”

“Not possible. The worst case is that they might have taken a photo of us.”

“Ok, and then what happens?”

”Well, if there is a ticket, they mail it out with the photo.”

I scowled. “And where does that photo go, Sean?”

* * *

It was a warm, sunny North Carolina morning. The dew glistened on the freshly cut grass. Bob Katana had just put on his
favorite moccasins, poured himself a steaming cup of coffee and settled into his recliner with the morning paper and yesterday’s mail. The house sure is quiet, he thought, now that all those noisy kids are gone. He smiled, thinking about what great kids they all were. He looked down at the first envelope. Hm, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. What could that be? He took the first sip of his coffee, smooth and glorious, while calmly opening the envelope. Pulling out a state certified letter, he noticed two pieces of paper flutter into his lap. The first, a $165 citation. And the second, a grainy photograph with his sweet Doodlebug next to that hooligan, Sean. It looks like he’s driving her car, he thought, becoming concerned. It appeared as though she was yelling at Sean. His arm was high in the air, with what appeared to be a blurry dollar bill flying out the window. Confusion contorted his face as Colleen’s was frozen in a state of anger. Why is one of her feet out the door? His eyes narrowed as the realization hit. He took another sip of coffee. It was bitter and cold. Snatching the citation, he marched into the kitchen, grabbed the phone, and dialed his soon-to-be least favorite daughter.

2 Responses to “Our Fists Were Raised”

  1. Jerseygirl89 Says:

    I really felt like I was in the car with you guys!

  2. Colleen_Katana Says:

    Thank you….it is unfortunately a true story. (Well, mostly true…I obviously don’t know what my dad was doing the morning he received the citation) It was also the first REAL fight Sean and I ever had.

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