Have a good Turkey Day everybody!
Title: Current Roadway Conditions
Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: A traffic jam stops the boys out in the middle of a desert highway.
“Look at this.” Dean mumbled angrily. “Are you lookin’ at this?”
Sam forced his mouth to remain shut and kept his stare straight ahead.
He didn’t know what else he could be possibly looking at. Unless he was mistaken, he too had been trapped in the car since the crack of dawn. He also was present when the two-laner winding through the desert saw the first sign of traffic on the horizon. In an astonishing coincidence he was sitting right next to his brother when the long line of freight trucks and Winnebago’s started to slow down. He’d listened to Dean’s swearing grow progressively more ingenious as the unexpected jam of vehicles maddeningly sent them puttering beneath the legal limit. The creep turned into a crawl and after an hour of tailgating a trailer full of aromatic cows the progress had ceased all together.
Dean laid on the horn like it might actually accomplish something.
“Check the police band again.”
Sam looked at the hand-held receiver sitting between his legs.
“I checked it, Dean.”
The desert sun was smoldering on its decline but it wasn’t a nice warm evening. A cool wind was gusting sand up against the sides of the Chevy and dusting the windshield with red grit. Autumn twilight in the southwest was as chilly as other places but Sam always lost track of the seasons as soon as he was out of sight of either coast.
“Try another frequency then,” Dean ordered.
“This entire county only has two and I tried both.”
“Batteries are too low,” Sam informed him curtly. “I can’t get jack.”
Gazing at the empty roadside of stunted cactus and the remains of rusted barbed wire fence, he wondered when the last time the bleak scenery had any lingering company. It wasn’t very often they came to a complete stop in a 75mph zone. When the five-minute mark passed by, Dean irritably jerked the car into park. The narrow interstate was straight and long with no way to see past the line of idling cars to guess what the hold up was.
His brother was ready to demand another pass on the scanner and Sam got ready to hand over the unhelpful device the hard way.
The appearance of a person walking along the gravel emergency lane made them both pause. Sam frantically performed a search for anything questionable lying around on the dashboard. Before he could suggest that they roll up their windows, Dean was already leaning half way out of the driver’s side.
He’d stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled loud enough to make Sam wince.
“Hey!” Dean called. “Hey you!”
The State Trooper turned to look at them. Dean had caught the attention of an armed officer of the law like she was a distracted waitress withholding access to cold beer. She studied them enigmatically from behind amber Ray Bans with hands placed solidly on her hips. After a few moments of deliberation she decided they were worth walking over to investigate.
“How ya doin’ officer?” His brother assumed a slumped stance of civility. “What seems to be the problem?”
Instead of answering she leaned back with her hands slipping to the small of her back. Turning sideways the nylon jacket fell away to reveal a fitted khaki uniform shirt. The fabric had been cut to allow ample room for a lot of extra belly but the metal buttons were still barely meeting their buttonholes.
Sam’s eyes widened
“Whoa.” Dean said.
Sam was no doctor but there were some conditions of the female body that required no special degree. Thinking there should be some union law against extremely pregnant police on active duty, he watched her laboriously bend down to peer into the car.
“Accident few miles up,” she explained. “Bus hit a minivan. Real big mess.”
Dean tore his stunned gaze off her gigantic stomach long enough to address the bad news.
“So... you’re just waitin’ for the meat wagon?” he asked hopefully.
“I don’t have that kind of info, sir.”
“Crap,” Dean muttered. “How long do you think it’ll be?”
“Hard to say,” she sighed shortly at the stretch of traffic. “Fire trucks ain’t even packed up yet.”
Sam studied the Trooper’s face for any signs of real trouble.
The typical expression of the boys in beige didn’t change much regardless of gender. All the tense grim lines of the not quite frown and the calm neutral demeanor were what usually came with the shiny gold badge. There were certain tell tale signs that meant it might be time to take their chances on the unpaved shoulder of the road and flee the way they came. However, the officer’s pained posture didn’t seem to be because of them for a change. Although sunglasses obscured most of her face Sam could tell her skin was too pale. The fine sweat on her brow was a little too much for a simple stroll down the street. He watched her press on her back in an attempt to counterbalance the difficult weight in her midsection.
The words were out before Sam could think it through.
“Do you wanna sit down for a sec?”
The immediate look of guilt that flashed over her stoic features quickly answered that stupid question. The coinciding baffled glare from his brother let him know what any second opinion on the offer might be.
“No can do,” her answer was strained with regret. “It’s against policy.”
Sam felt a surge of panic when she suddenly wavered, her hip catching against the side view mirror. Realizing he and his brother were both sitting forward with their hands out, she backed up a step and took a deep breath, swallowing back whatever just hit. Sam noted he was staring at her like an idiot instead of doing anything. Before he could think of what he should attempt to do next, Dean uncomfortably cleared his throat.
“Yer- Yer not- yer not at this moment going to—”
Leaning down with her hands braced on her knees, she was taking in long steady gulps of air.
“N-Not for another 32 days.”
His brother gripped the steering wheel in frustration. Sam waited impatiently for Dean to come to terms with the inescapable resolution.
“Come on.” Dean yanked up the lock on the passenger door behind him. “No one’s lookin’.”
Groping for the handle, she didn't argue any further about the violation of regulation.
Dean sent him another heavily discontented look as the back door creaked open. Ignoring the blistering stare, Sam smiled uncertainly as she slowly lowered herself down onto the squeaky springs. He suddenly became painfully aware of all the crumpled fast food bags, discarded maps and the possible scent of laundry that hadn’t seen soap for a few weeks. If the unsightly clutter alarmed her delicate maternal sensibilities, the chance to take the load off superseded any outraged disgust. He had already made a mental checklist of all things that would warrant more attention than a disturbed grimace. Besides some muddy used socks, they were in the clear.
Easing back in the seat, the Trooper let out a sigh of relief.
“That sure is a fancy scanner you got there,” she said.
Sam blinked down at his lap.
He had somehow completely forgotten about the handheld that was sitting in plain sight. Although monitoring police bands wasn’t illegal in these parts, he almost swore out loud for not having shoved it into the glove box. For all he knew this lady spent her coffee breaks gazing longingly at FBI photos and dreaming of busting some honest to god douche bags right here in her little dusty corner of jurisdiction.
“Uh, yeah?” he confirmed with what he hoped was still a smile. “It’s good for weather.”
She considered him thoughtfully from behind the dark sunglasses.
“Can you get on 866.7750?”
Sam tweaked the dial to the numbers he had set on the memory ever since they’d crossed county lines.
“Yeah,” she nodded wearily and patted the radio sizzling static on her belt. “I haven’t had much luck either.”
The ensuing silence was punctuated by Dean tapping on the wheel. Every click of the silver ring beat in time with the third hand on Sam’s watch.
“Gettin' late,” she said. “Lots of work left to be done.”
Sam watched her hands grip the car frame in order to haul herself up onto her feet. Wobbling back and forth a few times to get her bearings, she straightened and got ready to get back to business. With a touch to the brim of her broad hat, she nodded in a gesture of farewell.
“You boys have a good Thanksgiving.”
“Sure will,” Dean assured her automatically. “Have a good... baby.”
They watched the State Trooper carefully waddle back down the line of traffic. She paused to knock sternly on the window of the pickup truck behind them to wake a dozing elderly driver.
Sam uneasily glanced down at his watch to make sure the officer wasn’t getting ahead of herself with the holiday wishes. He knew it was late in the year but he had no idea what day it was. The leaves back East would barely start to turn and the grocery stores would already be hawking fake pine trees and playing Bing Crosby muzak. Nonetheless, no such time warp had falsely occurred. The correct date sat right next to the waning hour of dusk. Sitting back in bewilderment, he rubbed at his eyes and laughed a little.
Time sure did fly when you weren't counting the shopping days.
“Well,” Dean shrugged. “At least now I know what to order for dinner.”
Sam couldn’t keep back his smile when the taillights ahead of them suddenly lit up. He flicked off the scanner and let his thoughts stray towards the possible notion of food in the near future. The distant roll of multiple engines sounded over the desert quiet as wheels started to grind over the cracked asphalt. As they picked up some decent speed, the landscape finally returned to a comfortable passing blur. Dean clicked on the headlights as the sun dipped too low behind the far off crumble of cliffs.
When they hit a place to spend the night Sam knew exactly what he’d be eating too. Diners always supplied the best kind of chow on auspicious occasions like this one. He allowed himself to settle back and relax for the first time all day.
Yams never did taste right unless they were candied and straight out of a dented can.