Girls Like Boys


“Holy fuck,” Travis let out as Erick’s car, and Erick inside, flipped over itself. The spectators started panicking as the car became more and more damaged, breaking down under the weight of itself and the speed at which it flipped and hit the cement.

“Erick’s Nissan…” Shay said, stunned, staring down the street to where it finally rested. “It’s wrecked.”

Travis looked at Shay. “Who cares about the fucking car, Shay?” he asked. “He can have my Nissan if he walks out of this.” Travis pulled away from me and turned to look at the crowd behind us. Some were already starting to disperse, but most were stunned, standing around, pivoting between the end of the run where the drivers were pulling to a stop and to the wreckage of Erick’s car behind them.

Travis turned to Cam and Shay. “Get everyone to go,” he demanded frantically, practically shouting the words to the people around us. “I’m calling 911. Everyone needs to leave now.” He was already moving toward Erick, running back to the BMW to get his phone. He never raced with it on him; he didn’t want the distraction, but now he was tearing through center console searching for it.

“Travis,” I said, “I have mine, use mine.” I grabbed a fist full of the back of his shirt and tried to pry him from the car. I’d never seen Travis panicked before, had never panicked around him. “Travis!”

He pushed out of the car. “I’m not having your name or number connected with any of this, Cody,” he said, dialing the number on his own phone. He slammed the BMW door shut and pulled the Nissan’s keys from his pocket. “Get the BWM keys from Shay,” he demanded, shoving his Nissan’s keys into my hands. “Have him take the Nissan and make sure you get home. Go to Tutwiler, take the BMW, pretend like you weren’t here.”

Travis turned to where Erick still hadn’t emerged from the wreck.

I followed him, scared to look too close at Erick’s car, scared I might see him in there.

“Hello?” Travis said frantically as someone answered the 911 call. “My friend just got into a car accident. He skidded off the street and hit a guard rail. We need help now.” Travis looked back at me, glaring, warning me to take his keys and leave, even as he continued to the driver’s side of Erick’s car. It had stopped rolling right side up, tires on the ground. Travis didn’t wait; he simply yanked the driver’s door opened and leaned in “He’s unconscious,” Travis said into the phone, “but I think he’s breathing. We’re at the intersection of Mayfeld and Cursor. It’s a wreck; you can’t miss it.”

Travis pulled the phone from his ear without hanging up and turned to me. “What the fuck, Cody, leave,” he demanded before motioning to someone behind me.

I glanced back as Benji pulled to a stop next to us. “Is he okay?” Benji asked frantically, careening out of his car to be at Erick’s side, to get a look at his friend.

“He’s alive,” Travis answered, stoically. “I-We shouldn’t touch him. I called 911.” He seemed to remind himself of the call, because he glanced at the phone still in his hand and lifted it back to his ear. After a moment, he hung it up immediately and stood, pulling away from Erick, pushing Benji away. “Get out of here,” he demanded. “Tell everyone else to go. Get my keys from Shay and give them to Cody. She’s taking the BMW back to her dorm tonight.”

“No I’m not,” I argued, holding the Nissan’s keys out to either one of them. “I’m not leaving Erick. I’m not leaving you here to handle this on your own. You’re not that tough.”

“I don’t care about being tough,” Travis answered. He darted forward and grabbed my wrist. Benji moved to Erick’s side as Travis practically dragged me down the street, back toward the cars and where Shay and the others were coming back. Shay and Cam had apparently done a good job warning everyone about the cops, because everyone was peeling out without hesitation. Flynn was parked haphazardly across the center of the street, his attention turned to Cam and Shay as Travis dragged me to them

“Shay!” Travis screamed, calling the brunette’s attention to us. Immediately he darted away from the others and met us in the center of the street.

“Trav,” he said, glancing back to Erick, questions on the tip of his tongue. Before he could ask what none of us know the answers to, the sound of distant sirens met our ears.

“Fuck,” Travis murmured, grabbing for the keys in my hand and shoving them into Shay’s. They fell between the guys’ fingers and landed on the cement at our feet. As Shay ducked to grab them, Travis spoke, “Give Cody the BMW keys. You’re going to take the Nissan. Make sure she gets home.”

“Travis,” I argued, turning to face him as the sirens picked up just a couple blocks away. Most of the racers were gone now, save Cam, Flynn, and Trav’s Nissan. I could see Flynn and Cam’s nervous expressions as Flynn started his up and Cam raced across the street to his own. Over my head, Travis motioned for them to take off, silently reassuring him that he would handle this, try to keep anyone from getting arrested. The cars would be a dead-give-away of what we were doing here tonight.

I grabbed Travis’s arm, demanding his attention as nerves climbed my spine. “Trav, have Shay take the car, but let me stay here. What are you going to tell the cops when they come? They’re never going to believe that you were just walking along when you saw that happen to Erick.”

Shay glanced at me but didn’t argue. I could see that he agreed with me, but the guys rarely argued with Travis when it came to me.

“Come on, Trav,” I urged, slipping my hand into his own. “We can deal with this together.”

Travis pulled his fingers from mine and stepped away. “I’ll tell them that Shay and I were out here messing around,” he said, not meeting my gaze. “That’s more believable than anything else.”

He turned and started walking down the street, motioning to Benji that he was coming. Benji’s expression was concerned, his face sheet-white as he stood with his unconscious friend, leaning into the car the best he could to monitor Erick’s breathing.

“I’m not leaving,” I said defiantly, following Travis down the street. “You’re just going to sacrifice yourself for everyone else? You’ll get arrested.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Shay added. I wasn’t sure if he was adding to my argument or Travis’s, but I think both of us shot him a glare. Sighing, Shay reached for me. “They’re going to be here any minute,” he said, “even if we leave now, there’s a shot they’ll spot me on the way out in the Nissan. If you don’t want your car impounded, Trav, I have to go, with or without Cody.”

“Cody…” Travis complained, pinching the bridge of his nose. “For fuck’s sake, just go. Please.” Without waiting for my answer, Travis turned to Benji, and Erick, and told Benji to get out of here. His car was still parked next to Erick’s wreck, and the cops were only a block away from the sound of the ambulance sirens.

Without arguing, Benji lightly touched his friend’s shoulder and pulled away from Erick, darting into his own car. As Benji started it up, Travis nodded back to Shay and the Nissan.

“Take off too,” Travis sighed to Shay, not sparing a glance at me as he sent the mechanic away.

Shay shot an uncertain, nervous look at me but nodded and turned to run back up the street to the modified Nissan. He pulled out just behind Benji, the two of them leaving in the opposite direction of the sirens.

Travis ran his fingers through his hair, sighed, and glanced at me. “If you’re not going to listen,” he said, “go get the car and bring it down here. I don’t want it pulled up like that.”


He shook his head, turning to stare at Erick. “Just get the BMW, Cody.”

I headed up the street, uncertain, and unlocked the car. This was the first time I was in the driver’s seat of Trav’s BMW, and by the time I backed it up and pulled down the street, emergency vehicles were making their way around the same corner that Erick collided with. I pulled up alongside the street and hurried out, moving to Travis’s side, even as the police did so. The ambulance pulled in as close to Erick’s car as possible and the EMTs flooded from the vehicle.

“Who is he?” one of them asked as he moved Travis out of the way and moved to get to Erick.

“What happened?” a police officer questioned as he stepped up. There were two cop cars and the ambulance. They’d shut off the sirens, but their lights flashed ominously in the darkness, casting the cement street and buildings in alternating colors. Travis turned to the officer, turning his back to the lights.

“His name is Erick Dayer; he took that corner too steep and hit the guard rail,” Travis answered, glancing nervously to where the EMTs were assessing Erick. Two were leaning in through the driver’s door and another had managed to open the passenger’s and was leaning in against the seat.

“Erick,” one called to him. “Erick, can you hear me?”

“Has he woken up at all?” another EMT asked.

“What were you all doing out here at this time of night?” the officer questioned. Another officer walked up behind him, assessing the wrecked car as he spoke into his radio. He moved to the back to get the plate number.

“No,” Travis answered the paramedic, frowning, “I don’t think so.”

I moved closer to Travis’s side and took his hand in mine. I knew he was trying to think of a reason that they could’ve been out here, besides racing. The cop looked to me as I stepped into Travis’s orbit. I offered a polite, nervous smile as his attention dipped to me from Travis.

“Erick wanted to show me some of the modifications he made to the car,” Trav said with a shake of his head. “It was stupid, but we were up late working on the car and didn’t think to wait until morning.”

The cop frowned and slid out a little book from his uniform pocket. As he jotted down a couple notes, he looked up and down the street. “Is that your car?” he asked, pointing to the BMW with a pen. “What do you do for a living?”

“My father owns a garage,” Travis answered, “an auto-shop, I mean. I help out.”

Leaning past Travis, I looked to where the EMTs brought were touching Erick and talking to themselves. “Is he okay?” I asked, cutting through the questions between the officer and Travis. “Is he going to be okay?”

“It’s a miracle he didn’t get pinned,” the woman EMT answered, glancing to me from where she was holding Erick’s neck steady. She was in the backseat of the car, leaning over the driver’s seat to reach him. “We’re going to get him out as carefully as we can, but without the right equipment, it’s impossible to know what happened inside of his body. We need to get him to the hospital.”

Travis bit his lip and nodded, turning toward them. “Which hospital? We’ll meet you there.”

“Hold on a second, there,” the officer said, motioning for Travis and me to turn back to him. “I’m going to need more information from the both of you. Starting with your names and the plate number for that BMW.”

Travis tightened his hold on my hand and sighed. “I’m Travis Laughlin,” he offered. “It’s 1TL3367.”

The cop nodded as he took the information, the he peered over the little notebook and jerked his chin toward me. “And your girlfriend?” he asked, jotting something down on the page.

Travis’s eyes narrowed at the way the officer came across, but I warningly tightened my grip on his hand and answered for myself.

“I’m Cody Carrigan,” I said politely.

The officer looked up skeptically, hesitating to write it down. “Spelling?” he asked.

“You think she’s lying to you?” Travis questioned, shoving his free hand into the pocket of his jeans. “We’ve got a lot more to worry about right now, officer, than giving you fake names.”

The second officer turned at the sound of Travis’s agitation and slowly stepped over to us. “Is there a problem?” he asked his partner earnestly, looking behind Travis and I to where the paramedics were freeing Erick from the front seat. They’d cut his seat belt, and as they lowered him on the board, the tone of their voices altered.

“What’s wrong?” I asked immediately, calling Travis’s attention to Erick’s unconscious body.

The female EMT shook her head as she strapped something around Erick’s head to hold his head in place. “Your friend has a broken leg,” she said, looking up to us from where she moved to stand beside him, blocking Erick’s lower half from our sight.

Travis, never one to be shut out, pulled away from me to step around her. He cursed at the sight, and I immediately spun away, not wanting to see whatever had happened to Erick’s leg during the accident. I felt Travis come up behind me. He rested his hands on my shoulders and kept me facing the other way.

“He’ll be okay, Cody,” Travis said quietly.

The woman paramedic came around to us as the other two loaded Erick into the ambulance. I heard the wheels of the stretcher stumble over the concrete and the sound of them lifting his weight up into the vehicle. “We’re taking him to Bryce Hospital,” she said warmly. “We’ll do everything we can for him.”

“We’ll be done here soon,” the officer said, offering a solid nod to the EMT then looking to the two of us. “If you two could provide your IDs, it would make this go faster. Miss, spell your name for me.”

For a moment, I panicked, thinking my wallet was with my bag in the Nissan, but then I remembered that my items were always tucked neatly away in the get-away car in case of emergencies. Travis noticed my look as he pulled his wallet from his back pocket.

“My bag is in the car,” I said to him, glancing to the officer apologetically. I shuffled the keys from my pocket. “I can grab it real quick.”

The officer frowned but nodded. “Give the keys to him and get your ID. Do not bring anything else out of the vehicle.”

Travis nodded reassuringly and plucked the BMW keys from my hands. The car beeped and light up as he unlocked it with the key-fob. The officer schooled his features as he was surprised by the noise, but I sent Travis a glare, knowing he got a bit of satisfaction from messing with the cop. The doors were still unlocked from when I drove it closer.

I ducked into the passenger’s seat of the car and found my bag on the floor. I rifled through and dug my ID out as the ambulance pulled off behind us, sirens back on as they made their way through the near-empty streets to the nearest hospital. My thoughts were running wild with what might happen to Erick, what might come of Travis and I and this mini police interrogation. These officers were well aware of street-racing, and it was obvious they suspected it. Travis’s lie was well-crafted though. Car modifications weren’t illegal, even if most of them were done by racers. At most, Erick would get a reckless driving charge, a speeding ticket. On top of hospital bills for his yet-to-be-diagnosed injuries.

When I closed the passenger’s door, Travis made a point to lock the BMW, making a point to the two cops who were starting to look through Erick’s Nissan, without a warrant.

I moved back to Travis and handed my ID over to the police. Upon seeing my name on the card, he flipped it around a couple times.

“Indiana,” he commented, looking up to me. “Where at?”

“Terre Haute,” I answered, leaning into Travis’s side.

“What brings you down here?”

“College,” I replied.

The cop simply hummed and began transferring the information into his notebook. Behind us, the other officers and this one’s partner were putting up road-blocks around Erick’s ruined car. From what I could tell, they’d called to have it towed and impounded as accident evidence. From the look on Travis’s face, they were probably tagging it as potential street-racing proof.

“Mr. Laughlin,” the officer spoke, pronouncing Travis’s name incorrectly, “is this the only vehicle registered in your name? I don’t want to be surprised when I run your plate and license information.” He motioned to his own vehicle, where he was going to do just that on the mounted-computer.

Travis shook his head. “I have about three or four in my name, currently,” he answered. “Like I said, my father owns a garage. It’s a hobby we share.”

“What is?” the cop asked, taking a step back to his car.

“Restoring and modifying cars,” Trav answered simply. “We can’t road test them in they’re not legal, so I’ve registered a few in my name. Just until we sell them, of course.”

“Is that what you were doing here?” the cop asked. “Selling a modified vehicle to your friend Mr. Dayer?”

“The car is in Erick’s name,” Travis said, nodding to the wreck. “Like I said, we just have the same hobby. He wanted to show me what he’d done to the car.”

The officer nodded skeptically and stepped away to run our information through the system. This was the first time I’d ever had to give my personal information to a cop, and I was nervous about being in their system now. As the cop got into his car and shut the door, Travis turned to me and rolled his eyes. He wrapped his arms around me and tucked me against his chest.

“Are you cold?” he asked, resting his chin on my head. “My jacket was in the other car.” He glanced behind him to see where the other officers were. The other set of partners were looking through what was remaining of Erick’s car. Travis stiffened at the sight but didn’t argue against them. The main cop’s partner was making his way over to us. Travis pulled away from me as he arrived.

“You know,” the second officer said as he stepped up, “we got a call from another officer about seeing a another couple race cars speeding through the city right after we received the call about your friend.”

“That’s weird,” Travis answered, frowning convincingly. “We don’t know anything about that though. We were here trying to make sure Erick got the help he needs.”

“When will we be able to go make sure he’s okay?” I asked, wrapping my arms around myself.

The officer glanced to his partner. “We should be able to get you out of here soon,” the officer said noncommittally. “I’m sure you’re very worried about your friend. And it’s late for you all to be out. Are you students?”

“I’m a freshman,” I answered, “at Bama. I’m eighteen,” I added nervously, seeing the surprise flitter over the cop’s expression.

“And you?” he asked, glancing to Travis. “How old are you?”

“I’m a junior there,” Travis said, eyes narrowing at the under-handed accusation. “I’m twenty-two. Your partner still has my license if you need to double-check.”

I gave Travis a look, but luckily the officer didn’t say anything about his attitude as the other cop got out of his car and came back, handing our IDs back to us. “Mr. Laughlin,” he said, looking at Travis knowingly. “It seems this isn’t your first late-night mishap. You’ve been involved, last year alone, in three incidents involving modified racing vehicles. Your record goes back to before you were legally able to drive.”

Travis smiled, shrugged. “I was raised behind the wheel,” he answered. “I guess I didn’t learn the law until I was old enough to get in trouble for breaking it.”

“And have you?” the officer questioned. “Learned the law, I mean. If you have, I don’t see any reason why you would be out here tonight putting your friends’ –“ he motioned to me, implied Erick, “in danger by getting them involved in your illegal activities. Ms. Carrigan is apparently new to Tuscaloosa, and I’d hate to see her clean record end up looking like yours.”

“We’d have to be doing something illegal for that happen,” Travis said, looking to the officers with a bright, unshielded expression. “But since it’s obvious that there aren’t any ‘modified race vehicles’ in the vicinity, I don’t understand why Cody and I are under interrogation. As you can see, we came here in a BMW. No modifications.”

“And your friend?” the second cop asked, motioning to the trashed car behind us. “If you came here together from modifying the vehicle, why did the three of you drive separately?”

“Erick doesn’t live with us, officer,” Travis said, eyes narrowing. “As you said yourself, it’s late. I wasn’t going to keep Cody out here all night listening to us talk about Erick’s car. We would’ve gone our separate ways had this not happened.” Travis reached over and ran his hand down my forearm until his fingers slipped between mine. It was reassurance that even though his attitude was flaring, he was still level-headed.

“Can we go?” I asked quietly, glancing between the two officers.

“What’s going to happen to Erick’s car?” Travis asked before they could dismiss us.

“It’s being impounded,” the cop said. “Mr. Dayer can call the impound lot to get more information about the vehicle once he’s conscious.”

Travis bristled at the brush off. “We can go now?” He pulled the keys from his jeans.

“Before you leave, I’m going to need updated contact and address information from you both,” the police said, pulling his little notebook out of his uniform once again. “I can assume, Ms. Carrigan, that your current address isn’t Terre Haute, Indiana.”

“I live on campus,” I offered, frowning up at Travis. “Tutwiler Hall.”

“My address is the same as on my ID,” Travis offered.

The cop frowned. “That address comes back as belonging to Lorin Laughlin,” he said pointedly. “I’m assuming that’s a parent? You still live at home?”

Travis nodded. “It’s where my cars are registered to as well.”

“Mr. Laughlin…” one of the cops said, glancing to his car before turning his full attention to Travis, to me. “I want to offer you a word of warning. Had you had a modified racing vehicle registered to your name and here with you tonight, we would’ve had every cause to arrest you, your girlfriend, and Mr. Dayer for illegal drag racing. I don’t know how you managed to evade that this evening, but the law is not a joke, and you are in a world of trouble if you continue on this path. Just look where your friend Erick is tonight. I’d hate to see you do that sort of damage to Ms. Carrigan.”

I frowned at them both, hating the way he’d painted Travis as the careless mastermind of all of this. “You don’t know him,” I said quietly, speaking even as Travis squeezed my hand, tried to get me quiet. “You’re here to protect people, not make snap judgements about their character.”

“I wouldn’t call a rap sheet like his a ‘snap judgement,’” the cop replied, affronted that I’d called him out. “And if you were my daughter, and I knew what you were up to here, I’d pull you right back to Indiana. Your parents sent you here for an education, Ms. Carrigan, not an arrest record.”

“I don’t see you arresting me,” I retorted, even as Travis dragged me back by the hand.

“Are we free to go?” Travis questioned, already turning me back toward the BMW M5. “It’s been a stressful night.”

The cop nodded begrudgingly, keeping his eye on me as Travis wrangled me to the car. “Maybe after a night like tonight you’ll think twice about what you’re doing out here in the middle of the night.”

Travis nodded, opening the passenger’s door for me. He smiled at the cops. “Maybe we will,” he said before pushing my door closed and sealing me inside.
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