The following couple of weeks that the boys were still with Mike’s family turned out to be quite uneventful. They were constantly watching and listening to various news reports, as well as reading any related news stories they could find, because they hoped they might be able to learn more about the marijuana growers. They were trying to find out if those guys had been busted or if a body had been found in the area, but there had been no reports of anything like that thus far. Then, one day they were watching a news report on television when they finally got their wish.
“The State Police, in a joint effort with the D.E.A., have uncovered and broken up a large drug ring operating in the southern region of the state. It all started with a helicopter crew spotting a marijuana crop at a wooded location and this led to the discovery of several meth houses and a cocaine ring smuggling operation. It has been reported that more than three-dozen people have been arrested so far and millions of dollars worth of drugs have been kept off the streets. A large amount of cash was also recovered and it has been reported that this group was very heavily armed. It has even been suggested by unnamed sources that this particular cartel was most likely responsible for several drug related deaths in the area, as well as a number of other unexplained murders. It is thought these killings may have taken place to protect the group's activities.”
“So it wasn’t just those two guys,” Mike gasped, once he’d heard the news report.
“And they were obviously extremely dangerous too,” Adam added, before swallowing hard several times in a nervous reaction. “The cops protected our identities by saying the crop was discovered by a helicopter crew, but the reporter didn’t say anything about the missing 13-year-old boy. I wonder if he might have been one of the people they murdered or if they found him alive somewhere else?”
“We may never know, but I hope he wasn’t killed,” Mike replied. “No kid should die just because he accidentally stumbled upon something like that.”
Adam agreed, although it didn’t completely relieve his anxiety and doubts. He still might have prevented at least one of those murders from occurring, if only he’d reported the encounter sooner. It was a sobering thought though, but he would probably never find out for certain if his delayed response had resulted in the loss of life. This experience, however, would have an impact on how he would react to any similar situations in the future.
“This should also prove something else to you,” Mike added. “If it took the authorities this long before they were able to bust those guys, then there was no way the cops would have done anything between when we first ran into those guys and when we heard the gunshots. It wouldn't have mattered if we’d reported it immediately after we got back to the cabin or not. They just wouldn't have been able to react that quickly.”
Adam merely nodded his head in agreement, because he knew Mike was correct. However, since he had first begun studying to become a doctor, Adam didn't like to see anyone hurt or suffering in any way. He wanted to find the cure for the problem as quickly as he could, so he could put an end to any further pain. Mike, on the other hand, was studying to be a lawyer and knew that problems such as this were never quick or simple to fix. He also realized how these situations played out and knew there were procedures that must be followed to protect the integrity of the investigation. At last, Adam was finally willing to admit that Mike had been right all along.
The boys were still at Mike’s house when the Fourth of July rolled around and Dave and Judy announced they were going to have a cookout. Mike and Adam immediately offered to man the grill and eagerly took charge of preparing the steaks. While the boys were doing that, Judy and Dave carried out the salads and other items to the picnic table.
“As soon as we finish here,” Dave stated as they were eating, “we’re taking you boys to an outdoor concert. It’s probably not the type of concert you might normally choose to attend, but I think you’ll enjoy it anyway. The promoters have advertised that there will be a fireworks display afterward as well, so you’ll probably want to be there to see that. It sounds like it should be a really good time.”
“Yeah, it sounds like fun to me too,” Adam concurred. “A wonderful meal followed by a little entertainment and topped off with fireworks. What better way is there to celebrate the nation’s birthday?”
The others agreed, and then they finished their meal. After cleaning up and carrying everything into the house again, they freshened up, changed and hopped into the car. Dave then drove them to the park where this event was being held. Once there, Judy eagerly pointed out an area they could all see and hear what was going on, so they eagerly spread out a blanket they were all going to sit on and then got comfortable.
The concert began with the playing of the National Anthem, and nearly everyone in attendance joined in singing it. This was followed by a sing-along to other songs, which included “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “American the Beautiful” and “God Bless America”.
“This reminds me of when I was a little girl,” Judy stated after the last of those songs ended. “We used to do things like this on all the major holidays, like Memorial Day and Labor Day too. My parents would also tell us stories about attending similar events when they were younger as well, so people have been doing things like this for a very long time.”
“There’s nothing like the Fourth of July to still bring out the patriotism in all of us,” her husband agreed.
After a brief pause, the sing-along was followed by rousing renditions of “The Liberty Bell” march, “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. Before the final notes of the last song had died away, the first of the fireworks lit up the nighttime sky. The booms generated by the rockets not only assaulted their eardrums, but the percussive explosions of the bigger rockets were also felt by them, as the blast waves impacted each of their chests. Over the course of the evening, a multitude of different types of fireworks illuminated the air, before a tremendous finale capped off the display and left the crowd cheering.
“That was one of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen,” Mike pointed out, once it was over.
“And the concert was pretty good too,” Adam added, knowing that would please Judy.
Now that everything had ended, the four of them stood up and were preparing to leave, but before they could collect the blanket and move away from the area, a commotion broke out near them. As all too often happens at these types of activities, some of the others in the crowd had been drinking quite heavily and that was affecting their mood and judgment. Unfortunately, two of the inebriated attendees began insulting one another and the insults quickly turned into punches.
‘Stop fighting right now!’ Adam thought with as much emphasis and urgency as he could put into it. ‘This is supposed to be a celebration, not a brawl.’
Chagrined, Adam realized the fighters weren’t responding to his suggestion. The alcohol must somehow be interfering with his telepathic messages and delaying the response he expected.
‘Stop fighting and just go home!’ Adam projected even more harshly this time. ‘Just walk away and get out of here. If not, you’re going to spend the evening, and possibly longer, in jail.’
The combatants paused at the mention of going to jail and this gave their friends a chance to take advantage of their brief hesitation. The peacemakers were then able to pull the brawlers apart and guide the duo in opposite directions, as Adam and the Bermans made a hasty getaway.
“It’s too bad something like that had to happen and spoil an otherwise wonderful evening,” Judy stated, as soon as they were sitting in the car.
“Yes, it’s a shame that some people tend to overdo the drinking while they are celebrating and then ruin the experience for everyone else,” Dave agreed.
After driving home, the boys thanked Mike’s parents for the wonderful day. Then, they reminded Judy and Dave that they would be taking off the following afternoon.
“It’s been great spending time with you again and I can’t wait to come back and see you over the holidays too,” Adam told the Bermans. “I think it’s great that we’re all going to be celebrating both Christmas and the New Year together this year.”
“We’re looking forward to it too, dear,” Judy agreed. “Just have a safe trip on your way home.”
Adam promised he and Mike would be careful and then both boys kissed and hugged Mike’s mother, before saying goodnight to his father. Then, they made their way to Mike’s room to get some rest. It had been a wonderful, but a very long day.
After getting up the next morning and loading the car, the boys prepared to leave. Adam decided to drive first and they had only been on the highway for about forty minutes when two cars went zooming past them.
“What the fuck is that about?” Adam wondered, as an Audi and an S.U.V. raced by.
“Shit, they’ve got to be going 30 to 40 m.p.h. (48 to 64 k.p.h.) faster than you,” Mike chimed in.
The boys attempted to keep their eye on those two vehicles, but it wasn’t exactly easy. The two vehicles were not only speeding, but they were also zigzagging in and out of traffic. After the Audi pulled into the right hand lane, the car it had just swerved around pulled into the same lane behind it. This gave the S.U.V. chasing it a chance to pull up alongside the Audi. Then, the S.U.V. suddenly swerved to the right and smashed into the smaller vehicle. The driver of the car trailing them immediately took his foot off the gas and fell behind, to avoid becoming involved in the altercation.
“Damn, it looks like this is more than just a high-speed chase,” Adam acknowledged. “Call 9-1-1 and report what is happening.”
Mike grabbed his phone, but before he could dial, he reacted to what Adam did next.
“What the hell are you doing?” Mike screamed, as Adam pulled into the passing lane and punched the accelerator.
“I want to get close enough so you can see their license plates and report them,” he answered. “I also need to get closer if I want to use my ability to defuse the situation.”
“It’s too fucking dangerous!” Mike yelled in response. “You’re going to get us killed, along with them.”
“Not if I can help it,” Adam answered.
Mike noticed that Adam appeared calmer than he would have expected in this circumstance and was totally focused on the traffic ahead, especially the two vehicles he was chasing. As soon as he felt he was close enough to mentally reach the other drivers, Adam began to send out his mental messages.
‘You two idiots that just went flying by us at breakneck speeds are endangering the lives of everyone on the highway, I want you to stop this right now!’ he commanded. ‘I don’t know what started this, but whether you realize it or not, you’re putting a whole lot of lives at risk by this reckless behavior. We’ve contacted 911 and the cops should be showing up soon.'
His warning obviously didn’t help, because the S.U.V. sideswiped the Audi again. This made Adam think he needed to get closer to make telepathic connection, so he closed the gap between their vehicles even more.
“Whoa! Back off, dude. You’re way too close,” Mike advised him, but Adam didn’t respond. He was concentrating on the other drivers.
‘Slow down and pull over,’ Adam thought. ‘Whatever the problem is, it isn’t worth killing each other.’
Once again, he didn’t seem to be making much of an impact on the S.U.V. driver, but the operator of the Audi seemed to be attempting to cooperate. After another few minutes of failing to communicate with the S.U.V. driver, Adam heard sirens blaring in the distance. When he looked in his rearview mirror, he saw two State Police cars rapidly approaching them from behind. Adam then hurriedly steered into the right hand lane, eased off the gas and backed away from the other pair. Now that the State Police were closing in, there was no need for him to be so close. He was about the length of a football field behind them when the cops finally caught up.
The driver of the Audi immediately pulled onto the shoulder of the road, so Adam did the same, while still maintaining his distance behind him. This left plenty of room for one of the trooper cars to pull in between, while the other squad car went after the S.U.V. One of the police officers got out and walked up to the Audi, while the one that had been sitting in the passenger seat started moving in Adam and Mike’s direction.
“Move along. We’ve got everything under control,” he told them, when Adam rolled down his window.
“We’re the ones that called this in and we saw everything,” Adam replied. “We thought you might want to take our statements.”
“Ok, but stay in your vehicle and I’ll get back to you,” the officer said, as he went up to join his partner.
As the trooper they'd just spoken with was standing behind the Audi, they all heard the radio in the squad car unexpectedly squawk to life. This caused the officer behind the Audi to walk back to the patrol car, so he could respond to the call. While he was doing that, Mike began to vent on Adam.
"What the fuck did you think you were doing? We could have been killed!" Mike shouted to show Adam he was serious. "You can't fix every problem you see."
Adam merely shook his head, as he watched the other officer walked around the Audi and checked out the damage.
"I'm sorry you couldn't see it, but I needed to stop these assholes before someone got hurt," Adam quipped back, as he watched the second officer get out of his vehicle again.
"So you put us in danger to make sure no one ELSE got hurt?" Mike scoffed, as he looked incredulously at Adam.
"I had everything under control, so you needn't have worried," Adam replied, as Mike shook his head and rolled his eyes.
Since Mike didn't say anything further, Adam merely watched as the two lawmen conferred briefly. Then, the trooper they had spoken to earlier came back to take down their information.
Once they told him everything they had seen, the officer wrote down Mike and Adam’s contact information. Before the officer had a chance to walk away after taking their statements, Adam had a question for him.
“Did they catch the other guy?” he wondered.
“Yes. The last message over the radio was to inform us that the other patrol car had stopped the S.U.V. driver a few miles farther down the Interstate,” the officer answered.
Once this had been cleared up, Adam checked the flow of traffic and then carefully pulled out when there was a small gap. He quickly brought his car up to speed, as they continued the drive home.
“That was fucking insane,” Mike observed, now that they were on the road again. “What in the hell could have pissed the guy in the S.U.V. off so much that he was willing to wreck the Audi or maybe even both of them?”
“I have no idea, but unless it was some sort of a hit, I can’t think of anything else that would justify what he was doing,” Adam replied. “That was the worst case of road-rage I’ve ever seen or heard of.”
A short time later the boys spotted the other trooper vehicle and the S.U.V. The S.U.V. had crashed into the guardrail and the driver had been removed and handcuffed. He was being placed in the back of the patrol car as the boys drove by.
“They got him, but only after he wrecked,” Mike observed. “It looks like he wasn’t about to pull over and the cops pulled a ‘pit maneuver’ to get him to stop. He must have lost control when they did it, but it serves him right. He was fucking crazy.”
Adam didn’t disagree, but he had noticed the menacing look on the guy’s face as they passed by. He also saw the guy had a few cuts, scraps and bruises on his head and arms, but that certainly was to be expected after seeing the current condition of his ride.
The rest of their trip was much less exciting and the boys eventually pulled into the driveway at Adam’s house. His parents greeted them at the door and asked how their trip had been. In response, the boys told them about the crazy scene they had witnessed.
“Whoa! You saw that?” George asked, totally shocked. “I was just watching the report about what happened on the news. I was worried at first, since I knew you boys would be on that road, but I was greatly relieved when they gave a description of the cars and I realized you weren’t involved.”
“Not directly, but we reported it,” Adam confessed. “We also gave the State Police our statements, since we saw most of what went down. We just don’t know what started it.”
“According to the local news report, the guy in the S.U.V. thought the other driver had intentionally cut him off when he pulled his vehicle into the passing lane in front of him,” George told him. “According to the guy in the other vehicle, the S.U.V. immediately started to ram his car from behind, so he sped up to get away from the S.U.V., but that only resulted in a high-speed chase. Once the driver of the S.U.V. caught up with him, he began smashing his vehicle into the side of the other car.”
“Yeah, we saw that part,” Mike confirmed. “It was one serious case of road rage.”
“I hope they throw the book at the S.U.V. driver,” Adam added.
“The reporter said the driver of the S.U.V. has been charged with speeding, reckless driving and assault with a motor vehicle,” George explained. “There may be more charges later as well, since the guy wouldn’t take a Breathalyzer test and the police had to take him to the hospital to have his blood drawn. It will take time to process the blood so they can determine if he’d been drinking, but that means he might also have a D.W.I. or D.U.I. charge added on top of everything else.”
“I’m just glad he didn’t cause the Audi to crash or it might have taken out a bunch of other cars too,” Adam stated. “The two of them were passing other drivers during part of the time and weaving in and out of traffic, so they could have very easily caused a chain-reaction accident.”
“That would have been awful,” Rita agreed.
Once the boys had learned all they could from Adam’s father, they sat down with both of his parents and chatted for a while. Mike and Adam filled George and Rita in about the rest of their time with Mike parents, including what they had done on the Fourth of July. Once the boys finished telling them about that, George and Rita started to question Mike and Adam about what they might like to do before leaving for college. The pair responded that they would need to think about it first and then they’d let them know what they decided later.
After they finished this discussion, the boys went outside to unload the car. They brought everything in and carried it up to Adam’s room. When they were done, Mike mentioned something to Adam.
“I haven’t finished making all of your new files yet, but I’ll complete them before we leave for school,” he confessed. “I can’t believe that we’re at the halfway point in our studies now.”
“You may be, but I’m not,” Adam replied. “I’m going to have one more semester than you, because I couldn’t squeeze everything into just the three years.”
“What about your residency?” Mike followed. “Is it going to screw that up?”
“No, I’ll just be starting it a little later than I thought,” Adam answered. “It’s not really a big deal.”
“Do you have any idea where you’re going to be doing that?” Mike wanted to know.
“I was going to wait to see where you got a job first and then apply to do my residency in the same area,” Adam replied. “I want to work it so we'll be together, but I wasn’t sure if you were planning to stay in D.C. or not.”
“It depends on my grades and what job offers I get,” Mike answered. “There are some really good firms in D.C., but there’s also a lot of competition for those jobs too, especially since the law school’s right there. I could look for a position in Baltimore just as easily, if you want to stay there. If not, we can look wherever you want.”
“We’ve still got time to figure that out, so let’s play it by ear.” Adam offered. “If you can get a decent job in D.C. then I’ll apply there, if you get a better offer in Baltimore, I’ll apply to hospitals there instead. As long as we don’t go too far away from our families, at least not yet.”
“I agree,” Mike confirmed. “I’d like to stay close enough to our parents so we can spend some time with them too.”
“That’s what I was thinking as well,” Adam agreed.
A short time later, they were called down to dinner. While they were eating, Adam’s parents offered a couple of suggestions for things they could do while the boys were there. Mike and Adam said they would think it over and then get back to them.
"I don't want to commit to doing a lot while we're here," Mike stated, as he and Adam were walking away from the dinner table. "Your parents have already used one week of vacation when we took the trip to the lake and I have a feeling they'll be taking another week of vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I don't want them to use all of their vacation time just to be with us and then not have any days left over for an emergency."
"You're right," Adam agreed. "Maybe we should do a couple of long weekend trips again, like we've done before. I'd be fine with that."
Mike agreed, so now they'd just have to figure out what type of trips would be good for all of them.