A New Tales From a Roundabout Story
Cooper Langley brushed the debris off his shoulder and surveyed the damage he had caused. His Jeep had come to rest on a sidewalk leading away from the roundabout he had driven through. “Through” being the operative word as Cooper didn’t drive around the roundabout as the traffic gods intended. He drove through the middle of the roundabout, as it seemed a more direct route to the other side in the inebriated state that he currently found himself in.
It was 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, so there were no other cars in sight. It was cold however and the Carmel High School junior could see his breath. He should have put the top on his Jeep before leaving his girlfriend’s house, he thought. It had been unseasonably warm when he went to the party at 2 p.m. on Monday. But this is Indiana and regardless of your views on climate change, Hoosier weather is unpredictable.
This was the first week in January and school hadn’t started yet. Peyton Wellstone’s parents were in Aspen or Tahoe (she couldn’t remember) and the young lady was bored. So, she decided to throw a party on a Monday that lasted well into Tuesday.
Twenty-two promising young men and women came together for some old-fashioned high school debauchery and Cooper could debauch with the best of them.
But now his reckoning had come. He drove drunk. He drove through a roundabout drunk. And he drove through the mayor’s favorite roundabout drunk.
Teddy Wiggins, mayor of Carmel Indiana, loved this roundabout best because it was named after him. Of course, he was able to convince everyone at the dedication of the statue and official grand re-opening of the intersection that he was “humbled and surprised” that the statue was of him. In fact, he had commissioned the original statue (him sitting at his desk), a second statue (him shaking the hands of a voter), and a third (him waiving to the crowd from the grand marshal’s vehicle at the 4th of July parade) and finally the one they actually used (him staring off into the distance).
That sculpture, titled “Teddy Wiggins’ vision of a future Carmel” was now in three pieces. The torso was in the street. The base was under the Jeep. And the head was in the lap of the girl sitting in Cooper’s back seat.
Up until this moment, Cooper did not recall he had a passenger and this new development confused him greatly.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t think I can move.”
“Oh, god. Is your spine broken?”
“I can’t feel my legs, but I don’t think it’s because of a spinal injury. In case you can’t tell, the mayor’s head is in my lap. And he weighs a ton, so I’m kind of pinned in here.”
“I’ll call for help. No, I can’t call for help. I’ll get arrested. I’ll call my bros.”
“If your bros are the same guys from the party, none of them are in a condition to come help us.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“How about you pull adjust the seat and help pull this damn head off me.”
“Don’t yell at me! Why are you in my car, anyway?”
“I’m Selina Roberts.”
Cooper was blank.
“I’m in your chemistry class.”
The young man was still at a loss.
“You were flirting with me after your girlfriend passed out.”
“You told me you’d give me a ride home and I thought you were the most sober kid at the party. Obviously, I was wrong.”
“So, where do you live?”
She pointed in the opposite direction from where the Jeep was pointed. “That way. I was trying to get you to turn around when you crashed.”
He tried to piece it together in his mind. “Oh, yeah. It’s all coming back to me now.” It really wasn’t.
“So, are you going to help me out here or am I going to have to call the fire department?”
“Oh, sure.” He unbuckled, stepped out of the front seat and leaned into the back. “Sorry the mayor’s head is in your lap.”
“The real mayor used to date my mom. I’ve seen his head in worse places.”
He tried to ponder that, but was still buzzed, and the mental images weren’t forming properly. He refocused as best he could on rescuing the girl.
Cooper leaned into the car and pulled on the head of Teddy Wiggins. Teddy didn’t move. “Move the two front seats as far forward as possible,” Selina said.
Cooper complied and was able to move the head of the mayor off of her lap. Just in time for the police car to shine its lights on the young man holding the head of the sculpture. He dropped it and looked both ways in a panic. He was too scared to run.
The police car rolled to a stop and the driver sat looking at Cooper. David Lupinski had been a Carmel police officer for all of ten months. And although he was annoyed by the young man in front of him and the paperwork that was about to ensue, this frightened kid wasn’t likely to shoot at him because 1) he was in Carmel, and 2) he was currently pissing himself. Officer Lupinski observed the puddle forming at Cooper’s shoe and made a mental note of it. On a cold night like this, he thought, best to let it freeze on the kid’s jeans before putting him in the back of the squad car.
“I better throw a puke bag back there too,” he thought. “This kid’s a puker.” In twenty years of law enforcement, he had come to realize that the cleaner he kept the back seat of his squad car, the better his work environment and his overall mental health would be. So, he always assessed perpetrators for their likelihood to leave a mess and he had an entire kit in the trunk to deal with a variety of scenarios.
When the officer got out of his car, Cooper didn’t put up a fight. In fact, he knelt down in his own pee with his hands on his head before Officer Lupinski had said a word.
“Are you drunk son?”
“You don’t have to answer that came a female voice from the back of the Jeep.”
“He already did.”
The voice continued, “He doesn’t have to take a breathalyzer either.”
Officer Lupinski, looked into the Jeep. “Are you his attorney?”
“No, I’m his… I was just catching a ride.”
“Yeah, well Uber might have been a better choice. Step out of the Jeep please.”
Selina complied. “Can I call my mom?”
“From the station. You’re coming in with the demolition driver.”
“I just want to go home,” she stomped her feet. “Gawd! What’s your deal?”
“Look, miss. I have three daughters. There is literally no tantrum you could throw right now that I can’t withstand.”
“My mother used to date the mayor. You’re going to be sorry.”
“I’m pretty much going to be sorry the rest of the night. But you’re still coming to the station with me and piss boy.”
Cooper was sobbing. “What’s going to happen to my Jeep?”
“It’s going to be towed and impounded.”
He sobbed some more. Selina was disgusted. “Does he belong to you?” asked the officer.
“Oh, gawd no.” She took out her phone and captured the sobbing teen in his most embarrassing state. “Once this goes up nobody else will want him either.”
“Don’t you think that’s cruel?”
“I’m about to be grounded for the next week or so. Might as well have some fun.”
“Being a cop and a dad was so much easier before social media.”
Selina rolled her eyes. “I would kill myself if I had to grow up primitive like you.”
Officer Lupinski walked her to the car in silence. After he guided her to the back seat, he retrieved the pee kit from his trunk, spread a plastic sheet on the seat next to Selina, and retrieved Cooper (who was still kneeling in pee).
By this time, other officers were arriving. Some of the old timer’s shook their heads. “Ooh, this is going to be bad,” said Lupinski’s boss.
“Why is that?”
“That’s the mayor’s favorite roundabout sculpture,” another officer chimed in.
“Why is that?”
“Because it’s him. He’s the statue!”
Lupinski tilted his head and got another look at the face on the pavement. “Huh, I didn’t even realize it. I was too focused on the teenagers who cut him down.”
“You know, I always figured this would happen,” Lupinski’s boss said. “But I always thought it would be the mayor himself that drove through this one.”
The officers got a big laugh at the mayor’s expense and then directed a car around the debris. “I’m going to take these two in and call their parents. I’m sure they’re in for a tough time.”
“Not as tough as you are.”
What do you mean?”
“This is Carmel. The parents are more likely to blame us for the roundabout being in their son’s way than they are him for being drunk.”
“No, I’m not.”
“And I thought Detroit gangbangers were bad.”
“I’ve got twenty bucks says you wish you had a seasoned criminal over the parents that bought that kid a brand-new Jeep.”
Officer Lupinski took another look at the Jeep and said, “I should probably just give you that twenty now.”