On a sunny Friday morning, March 22nd, 2019, two women leave their homes in northern Massachusetts.
Carol Dinton was in a hurry. The tall, 63-year-old brunette grandmother was late for a hairdresser appointment, before a lunch with a couple of old friends. She wanted to look nice, to make it easier to hide all signs of a life on the line, which was what she had for the last 3 years, ever since she lost her last job. And who will hire a 60-year-old? To do what? But even though she wasn’t shy about letting her friends know she was out of a job, she wanted to think she was fine with it, and living comfortably a sort of pre-retirement. She drives her Nissan Altima towards Route 128.
Cynthia Malley, a blonde 33-year-old mother of two leaves her home heading for a swimming lesson, one of her weekly routines, taking the chance of having mornings off, a sort of a perk for working the 2nd shift at a local Fedex office. She drives her Subaru Outback calmly, entering Route 128 in her “auto-pilot”, the kind that makes you wonder if you actually remember where you came from, when you reach your destination.
At precisely 9:56 a.m., Cynthia is thinking about how she’ll greet her swimming instructor, a rather handsome man, roughly 5 or 6 years younger, and with very nice abs. Although she is somewhat happily married, if there is such a thing after a marriage of 10 years, she feels there’s no harm in looking to other men and maybe even having that healthy flirt. She’s wondering if she’s considered a Milf when she changes lanes, from the central lane to the right-side lane.
Although in a hurry, Carol didn’t like exceeding the speed limits. A ticket was the last thing you need when money is tight. She was hoping that the hairdresser was running late, but the possibility of losing her turn and having someone else take it, meaning a longer waiting period for her was leaving her nervous, because that meant arriving late to the lunch date.
So, when Cynthia veered her Subaru to the right, almost hitting Carol’s car and causing her to hit the brakes to avoid a fender bender, she lost it.
She starts yelling and pushing the horn vigorously, pointing her own head as a sign to the other woman how crazy she was.
Cynthia hadn’t noticed how close she had been to causing an accident and thought that crazy old woman behind her must be one of those crazy persons who hate it when a younger and better-looking person gets in front of her.
“I’d hate to be in front of that one on a supermarket”, Cynthia tells herself.
Carol continues waving her arms and yelling, to which Cynthia replies by flipping her middle right-hand finger, high enough for Carol to see.
This infuriates the grandmother even further. She presses the right-side pedal and steers to the left, so that she can position her car next to the Subaru. Lowering her right-side window, she calls out Cynthia by a lot of names not usually uttered by a grandmother, including “Cunt”, “Motherfucker” and “Asshole Blonde”.
Cynthia looks at the woman in the car yelling, and becoming slightly aggravated herself, simply gestures “fuck you crazy woman” with her lips and speeds up a little more.
Carol, seeing the SUV moving forward, moves her car back to the right-side lane, positioning it right behind the front car. So close that you if the SUV would open its trunk, it would hit the Nissan’s front. If Cynthia stepped on the brakes, they would surely hit.
Cynthia, by now with a strong sense of anger and wanting to hit those brakes, knew she shouldn’t. She wasn’t about to have some crazy old woman following her around town. She felt she had to do something, so she flipped her turn indicator to the right and slowed down her car to a halt.
Carol took that as a call for a fight, and gladly obliged, also slowing down her own car while asking herself rhetorically “oh you want a piece of me, do you? Let’s go, cunt!”.
As soon as they stop on the side of Route 128 freeway, Cynthia is quick to get out of her car, and confirming that the other driver looks much older and even with some problems releasing her seat belt, she moves to the Nissan and bangs on the driver window, yelling “C’mon! Get out!”.
Carol was having problems releasing the seat belt as she was nervous, but finally manages to do it. She opens the door and immediately tries to get up, but slips and has to hold the side of the door to prevent a fall.
Cynthia takes that as a sign of frailty and acts with confidence, asking in a loud tone, almost shouting “What the hell is your problem, lady??”
Carol, now fully on her feet, moves around her own car’s door while saying “My problem is the way you drive, idiot!”. She proceeds to grab Cynthia’s sweater by the neck area, in a menacing tone.
“You almost hit me and you don’t even care, asshole, I’ll show you how to care!”.
After initially feeling confident that she could take on this much older woman, now Cynthia wasn’t so sure anymore. In front of her, grabbing her by the neck, was a strong person, about 5 inches taller. She had no change.
So she decides on a newly invented Plan B. She apologizes.
“Hey… wait… look, sorry if I did something, I just didn’t see you, all right?”
By now, cars were slowing down, and some almost stopping to watch the show.
Carol, now clearly seeing fear on the other woman’s eyes, suddenly calms down just enough to loosen her grip on her opponent. This also provides her with the clearance of mind to think that she is late for her appointment, and all this is only causing that delay to grow larger.
She pushes the blonde woman one last time as she releases her, and moves back into her car, while another woman was now approaching them on foot, probably to try to defuse the situation. Carol starts her car and moves away, while Cynthia stays right there, telling the lady that just arrived to help how some crazy old woman started acting out in the middle of the road.
While the events leading to the confrontation described here, along with the person’s names, are fictional, the confrontation itself was real and caught on camera, on Route 138, southbound at Exit 21 in Danvers, on March 22nd, 2019.
Although both women left the scene without injuries or car damage, both were identified by the police through the footage, and even though no charges were raised, the Massachusetts State Police issued a public statement how this incident could have had very serious consequences, and how it shows that today’s roads are becoming increasingly dangerous.
If in the old days, people would maybe beep their horns and make some gestures, but today you never know if the other driver won’t pull a weapon on you.
The trumpet start to Glenn Miller Band’s rendition of “In The Mood” blasts through Peter’s smartphone, which he automatically reaches for, pressing the screen to stop the music.
He chose the classic tune as the alarm song to wake up to as a kind of a mantra to help start the day with a positive attitude. Not much success there, especially not on a Monday at 5:50 am. And the way it started with such a high tempo right from the get-go meant that it wasn’t unusual for him to wake up startled as if there was someone inside the house making noises. And his wife had complained about it a number of times already.
Maybe it’s time to find a new wake up ringtone.
But he needs something to act as a kickstarter for the day, as working on an accounting firm is not what you’d call an exciting prospect for your daily dose of action.
That’s one of the reasons he usually only activates the “snooze for 10 mins” option on his phone, so he can wake up gradually.
Lying in bed, in the dark before the day starts, is always a time when you have somewhat introspective thoughts. Lately Peter has been thinking a lot about what his life sums up until now. At 48, he still feels “young”. He’s in decent shape, has a typical family with a wife and daughter, and he’s been at the same job for the last 8 years, as a senior accountant at Peterson Accounting, and 8 years is time enough to start thinking about moving into something better. But what? Old man Peterson is about to enter his 70’s, but he doesn’t look like he’s stepping down anytime soon, and Peter is not sure he’s management material himself. Maybe having some training, like an MBA or something, maybe that would help. But that costs money, and a lot of it. He decides to take some time of the day ahead to check out some reviews of online courses, especially if they are accepted as valid by private companies. And then he sighs.
He turns to face Lynn, his wife of 21 years, and gently kisses her as if to wake her up, although obviously she also wakes up when Mr. Withers starts singing. It’s too dark to make out her features, but even knowing she’s hardly looking her best this early in the morning, he is very familiar with her dark blond hair and her clear brown eyes, and even after more than two decades of living together, he is still very much in love with her, which he feels as not being very normal, in this day and age.
“’Morning…”, he whispers.
She notices a protuberance on his lower body and replies “Good morning, and thank God for morning wood”.
He kisses her and pushes away while replying “woman, you know we don’t have time for that, and besides, I need to pee. Badly!”.
“Maybe tomorrow I’ll set the alarm for 20 minutes earlier, so we can have a proper morning hello”, he says, while getting up and opening the window curtains, to which she replies “better not make any plans, there’s a good chance tomorrow I won’t be in the mood…”.
Peter moves into the bathroom to proceed with his morning hygiene habits. He has about 1h15 to get clean, dressed and to prepare breakfast for both of them and their daughter, Tess, before leaving for work, with a 40 mins commute waiting for him.
Lynn only needs to get up at around 6h30, so she usually stays in bed before getting up to help Peter preparing breakfast.
Not today, though.
She waits for him to complete his bodily functions and start the shower, when she joins him and they make love, beneath the showering hot water.
This causes them to be some minutes late when they leave the room for breakfast.
Tess was already in the kitchen when they arrive, preparing a peanut butter sandwich.
“You guys are running late”, she argues. She’s already dressed and ready to go, with her long dark hair held in a ponytail, and conservatively dressed, with jeans, a dark pink shirt and low boots. Not a troubled teen, especially considering what you see on current tv shows. They get along as good as any parents get along with teenage sons in the 21’s century, but so far she’s never given them any major trouble, apart from a couple of drunk arrivals late at night. That they know of.
“Well, according to Google Maps, traffic is light today, so we’ll be able to make up some time”, Peter replies. He drives Tess to Boston Latin School every day, as it’s a short detour on his way to Boston’s Financial District, where Peterson Accounting is located.
Peter then looks at the sandwich Tess is preparing. He tells her that sandwich looks good.
“In fact, I think I’d like to have that sandwich for myself”, he says, and his eyes change into a menacing look.
Tess stops handling her sandwich, looks at him inquisitively and asks “Really? You’re doing this now?”
Peter strengthens his stance “Yes, I’m hungry and that sandwich looks pretty fine to me. Give it to me”.
“No”, Tess replies.
Peter then starts moving around the counter, to meet Tess and her sandwich. While saying “I said it want it!” with a menacing tone, he lunges at the sandwich.
Holding the sandwich with her left hand, she uses her right hand to grab his thumb.
She pushes his thumb backwards, then using his own momentum as he lunged towards her to bend his arm downwards and then behind his back.
Peter and Tess have an informal agreement: every day, at some time of day, without any given notice, he will try some aggressive move on her. They have this agreement for about 1 year, after she actually witnessed a friend being mugged just outside their High School. He started teaching her some Krav Maga moves, which he himself learned some years ago, at a time when this type of Israeli defensive martial art became famous in the gym he went to. What attracted him to this sport was the fact that you really didn’t need to be buffed like a movie superhero to actually pull out some moves, as most of them are based on understanding the natural movements and restrictions of the human body, and using that knowledge as a form of defense against physical attacks. And that’s why he tried to teach Tess. At the time, which was close to the end of Tess’s sophomore year, Peter gave her the option either to join a gym for a year, or a new phone to replace her old iPhone 4.
It’s no surprise that she chose the smartphone (actually choosing a Samsung and Smartwatch combo, which as cheaper than an iPhone by itself, so Peter wasn’t too sad about that), so he took it upon himself to teach her some basic defense moves. In hindsight, the fact that they were training on their own free time, at home without any strangers watching was probably an advantage, and she soon noticed that her reflexes against unwanted advances became faster and more effective.
Peter always tried to take advantage of any mundane, ordinary situation or routine to surprise Tess and push her to always be alert to her surroundings, especially when in places where there are a lot of unknown people. She has become accustomed to this, so much so that Peter has had a few thoughts about ending this daily routine and maybe do it once a week, just to keep her on high alert. Fortunately, she never had to use this, but she’s going into her senior year, and within 1 year she’ll probably move out to some college away from Boston, although her parents have been trying to convince her to stay in the Cambridge area. So challenging times are upon her, as with any regular teen that, although typically dresses discretely, can certainly become an attractive young woman if taking some care with her looks.
Peter compliments Tess on the move she made, especially how she kept the sandwich on her left hand.
“Like we’ve practiced. Try to counter your natural instinct of holding things with your strong hand, so that it can be free in case you need it.”
He kisses Lynn goodbye, a few more times than usual, and just as Tess is exiting the door and reaching Peter’s dark red 2016 Cadillac CTS sedan, he tells her with a soft tone and a smile.
“Have a great day, hon’… I know I will”.
Peter and Tess start their daily drive, first to Latin School, close to the Fenway area on West Boston. As they are about 10 minutes later than usual (Tess made sure Peter was aware of this, as she mentioned that her friends were texting her and saying they were already there, so she was going to miss their daily pre-classes “meeting”), they arrive at the busiest time of parents dropping off their kids. There are always a couple of parents that apparently don’t notice that there are other people on the road, and either stop suddenly without warning, don’t bother moving to the right as much as possible when stopping, as to not obstruct other cars, or moving out all of a sudden, not realizing if there are other cars on the road that could possibly hit them.
Peter has grown accustomed to this and normally doesn’t even bother. Most of the times they arrive earlier, and it’s incredible how 10 minutes make such a difference. On days like today, he drops Tess about 100ft away from the school’s entrance, in order to avoid the confusion at the main gate.
“Be safe, honey, Luv ya”, Peter says.
“Yeah, you too”, replies Tess, while leaving the car and closing the door in a rush.
He smiles as he moves away from the school. Tess was never one to express her love for family in too many words, but he knows… or rather, he thinks they have a pretty good relationship. They initially planned to have 2 or even 3 kids, but when Tess was born, they decided to wait a couple of years before starting to work on a sibling, and then the financial crisis hit, and they felt that money was a bit tight to bring another being into the world, comfortably. Peter and Lynn do regret this somewhat, as looking back they could have had a second kid without too much effort, but they’re happy anyway.
Since about 6 months before, he has stopped waiting to check if she went inside safely. Part of this is due to the higher confidence in her self-defense abilities, after the Krav Maga started to show some positive results. From the school to Boston’s city center it’s about a 20 minutes commute to Peterson Accounting, his workplace, which is pretty good compared to the national commuting average.
He arrives at the garage of the building where Peterson Accounting has a large office, in the heart of Boston’s Financial District, parks his Cadillac on his assigned spot (perks of having a senior position), and moves up to the 16th floor, where he enters a few minutes after the typical entry time of 8h30. Most people are already there, so that’s a lot of “hello’s” until he reaches his office.
After placing his coat on the hanger, he comes back out to ask Nahindra, the Indian-American secretary whose service he shares with three other senior accountants, about any changes to today’s agenda. He knows there are a couple of issues to handle before a meeting with a new customer at 10 am.
She informs him that there are no changes so far, except a meeting with Mr. Peterson that was scheduled for 2 pm.
“Really? A meeting with Mr. Peterson? When was that scheduled?”, he asks.
Old man Peterson, although in his 70’s, is still very active and always wanting to be kept in the loop of the major contracts. He’s not too nosy and occasionally does manage to provide some good advice.
Nahindra replies while checking her laptop.
“It was just about 10 minutes ago, Sonya sent a meeting invitation without any contents”.
“Ok”, Peter replies. Sonya is Mr. Peterson’s executive assistant/secretary, and it’s very usual for him to request meetings just after signing big new contracts. Today’s account isn’t really very big (no big accounts recently, actually), but that’s probably what he wants to discuss.