Beth Lefebvre
An Unwitting Accomplice

Beth Lefebvre - An Unwitting Accomplice

Creative Nonfiction
Beth Lefebvre earned a M.A. in writing at Johns Hopkins University. She is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and… Read more »
Angela Morales

Angela Morales - Gunslinging

Creative Nonfiction
Angela Morales’ recent work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Southwest Review, River Teeth, and… Read more »

An Unwitting Accomplice

Beth Lefebvre

The 1988 blue Toyota Corolla is just one of four million to travel American highways since the model was introduced here in the 1960s. Its license plate, 3JFZ283, bears the carefree red script “California”—invoking sand and surf, perpetual playgrounds, Disneyland, and Hollywood.

The pristine tires emit a strong odor, half-sickening, half-sweet. Tiny tread hairs stick up like leafless trees on a barren, cracked wasteland. The interior is spotless, but only because a team has combed every inch of its fabric and plastic surfaces, excavating reams of documents, receipts, and personal letters.

And then there are the jarring details of abuse: a missing passenger headrest, a crack splitting its dashboard plastic from the windshield to the steering wheel, swatches of hood paint removed in a jagged pattern.

The car also sideswiped some unforgiving object, maybe another car, maybe a wall. White streaks slice the driver side. This wound was likely caused by the driver himself, via a simple, frantic shift of the steering wheel.

Despite its unique markings, the U.S. Government’s 9/11 Commission report referred to this Corolla, VIN JT2AE92E9J3137546, as “older” and “non-descript.”

But the car’s purpose was not what the factory intended.


Nawaf al-Hazmi came to… Read more »