Loretta and Mick bounced along the rural, pockmarked highway, dodging potholes big enough to swallow livestock, but even the Belties had better sense than to be out tonight. The frigid wind howled like a banshee, its clatter and bite finding a way in through every nook and cranny of the decrepit pickup, the F-150's ancient heater no match for March in Maine. Driving snow made it difficult to see the road, and it was only going to get worse.
Mother Nature is a nasty ol' bitch this year, thought Mick to himself. We really should have left the tavern an hour ago, instead of staying for a couple more pints and the end of the game. But, given a choice between basketball and beer with his sport-crazed friends and another tedious night slumped on the couch while Loretta tuned in to the Lifetime Channel and televised ridiculousness more likely to leave her weeping than feeling frisky, Mick knew he'd brave the elements next time, too.
Mick leaded slightly forward, eyes squinted in an attempt to distinguish road from ditch in nearly whiteout conditions. Suddenly, there was a bone-jarring thud from the frontend. Stomping on the brakes without thinking, the truck skidded and fishtailed wildly for a moment. "Oh my God!" shrieked Loretta. Heart racing, Mike fought for control, coming to rest crookedly on the shoulder. Scrubbing shaking hands over his face, he muttered, "Holy shit..."
"Now you've done it--you've probably killed someone's pet! You just couldn't stand the thought of staying home with me tonight. God forbid you spend time with me. And you just had to have that last beer...you're drunk, aren't you?" Loretta harped accusingly.
Tense jaw illuminated faintly by the dashboard light, Mick rolled his eyes at the newest variation to the "you just don't wanna spend time with me" argument they'd had a million times and ground his teeth in frustration. "I'm not drunk, Loretta. I could barely see the road. Something must've jumped out in front of me. I didn't know the game would go into overtime, but it was March Madness, so give me a break, will ya?" In an attempt to deal with the situation at hand and not get sucked into the same old quarrel, Mike said, "Grab the Maglite outta the glove box. We'd better see what we hit."
"What `we' hit? I'm not driving." Loretta groused. She threw open her door with more force than necessary, stepping out of the truck and into several inches of fresh snow. Flicking on the flashlight, she shined it up and down the ditch, seeing nothing. Stomping around the back of the truck to Mick's side, she handed him the flashlight and, gesturing toward the ditch on the passenger's side of the truck, said, "There's nothing there."
Crouching down, Mick swept the light beneath the Ford and back the way they'd come, but there was nothing. Perplexed, he pointed at the large dent in driver's side fender. "We obviously hit something, but what was it?"