Interstate 270 is the major spur linking Washington D.C. and north-central Maryland. The beltway surrounding the United States’ capital intersects I 270 at Bethesda, Maryland. Bethesda sits where 11:00 o’clock would appear on an analog watch and 270 proceeds northwest to Frederick where it meets up with I 70 thirty plus miles later. Bill’s house was separated from the Gibeon’s by less than 20 miles and most of his travel would be via interstate highway with a posted speed limit of 55 mph.
For the majority of the day travel between the two locales would take far longer than the approximately 22 minute answer that would satisfy an inquisitive algebra teacher. However, one or two in the morning on a weekday does lend itself to driving faster than the posted limit.
Heading south Old Hundred Road was the last street Bill hit prior to I 270 and the speed at which he was traveling created a double entendre concerning the “hundred” part of the two lane’s name. Drunkenness and dexterity both begin with “D” but so does death. Passing under I 270 Bill took the southerly leading left turn at a rate that almost landed him the ditch.
“Shit!” he screamed at himself. “Slow down, fool! You’re no good to anybody dead!”
Self-admonition aside, once he was on the ramp he accelerated as quickly as his powerful four door would allow and again had trouble navigating the slight bend that fed him to the interstate. He looked down at his speedometer, repeated his earlier exclamation concerning feces and eased off the gas slightly.
“Come on, sweetie, come on,” he intoned, not sure if he was speaking to Gabrielle or the Town Car. “Just hold on until I get there!”
Brain befuddled or not, coming to the rescue was what Bill Finger lived for. He’d always been adroit at lifesaving, though typically his talents were used to keep someone from swirling down a drain to oblivion. Tonight was one of the few times that his lifesaving ministrations might be literal rather than metaphorical.
“Oh, Jesus,” he blurted, half prayer, half profanity, “please keep her safe.
“Caroline?” he cried, speaking to his departed wife, “If there’s anything you can do to help her now’s the time, honey. “I know I failed you,” he added, tears streaming from his eyes, “and I know I’ve made a mess of things with this girl and screwed up with Sean but please help me if you can; okay? She deserves a break.”
The Interstate 270/I 370 exchange is complicated and busy and even with his intoxication Bill knew he should slow down. He did, some, but in his state of semi sobriety any speed was likely excessive. The next exit was Shady Grove Road and Bill careened off the highway traveling hard and fast with little thought about where he was or whom he was endangering.