Published in “Carry the Light” Vol II 2013
I was driving towards the coast. My daughter was fast asleep in the back seat strapped into her booster chair. The old gravel filled road I was traveling on, dead-ended at a cliff overlooking the ocean. The road was filled with potholes; forcing me to drive slowly. Every bump made my daughter’s already awkwardly positioned head bend further off to the side. It was a terrible road. The wind outside didn’t help either.
While driving I saw a tall middle aged man walking, or I should say stumbling down the grassy hill that ran alongside the road. He was holding a bottle of something in one hand and a big white dog was leashed in the other. As I passed him, I realized he was pretty well intoxicated. He started shouting at me and trying to catch up to my car. I locked my doors but the potholes and gravel made speeding up impossible and unsafe; nevertheless I did what I could to keep some distance between us.
Nearing the end of the road, I was surprised to discover that the road did not come to a dead end. Instead it veered to the left around the hill and turned into a small cliff hugging lane. As I approached the turn, I could see the Pacific Ocean and a bit of the beach below. The sun was setting quickly and I wanted to hurry and park my car so I could watch it disappear into the ocean. Apparently other people had the same idea as I could already see a few cars parked along the edge of the cliff. I worried about the narrowness of the lane, and being able to fit between the hillside and the parked cars.
The drunk with the dog had caught up to me again. To avoid him, I sped up as I turned onto the lane. My car slid slightly out of control. I panicked, narrowly missed a parked car, but was still able to come to a complete stop. The drunk was approaching my car again. I started to drive off. Fortunately the dirt lane, which was covered with pebbles and sand, had fewer, but much larger potholes. The incessant wind was stronger along the lane and it pushed against the side of my car making it harder to steer. The edge of the lane was almost completely filled with parked cars. I decided that I wasn’t going to stop. Instead I would just drive through, come out on the other side and go back home.
Apparently the drunk wasn’t so drunk that he couldn’t break into mini sprints in attempt to catch up to my car. I hoped he would leave me alone, or bother the people inside the parked cars. I wondered, Why me? As I looked ahead, I realized that there was a small delivery truck coming towards me from the opposite direction. The driver was keeping his truck close to the hillside possibly to avoid potholes. Briefly I saw something move near the back of the truck and then disappear behind it. I dismissed it as nothing but a hallucination brought on by my stressed mind. As our vehicles grew closer, I slowed and edged towards the parked cars in order to give the truck driver more room.
Using my driver side mirror, I kept an eye on the persistent drunk who was limping quickly in the middle of the lane; still trying to catch up to my car. I knew the moment the truck driver saw him because he broke too hard. A gust of sand and small stones kicked up from behind the trucks tires. The truck skidded. The back end drifted from left to right and the front left tire slammed into a pothole with enough force to flip the truck completely over. At the same time, something from behind the truck shot out across the road. To my amazement the truck landed upright on all four tires.
I don’t know what came over me, but I had to know what it was that shot out and landed in the middle of the road. The drunk had approached the truck driver and was talking to him. The driver seemed okay, bumped and stunned but okay. I turned off my engine and exited my car. Thinking of my slumbering child, I locked the locks and armed the alarm.
It was cold outside, windier than I anticipated. The sound of the wind intermingled with that of the crashing ocean, overpowering every other sound. Loose breeze-driven sand stung my face and I had to fight just to keep upright. I pulled my sweater across my chest and folded my arms in front of me. I then walked towards the object in the road. It was a motorcycle tire; nothing more. Strange I thought, as I wondered where it came from. Looking around I spotted an oddly positioned one wheeled motorcycle leaning against the hillside. When I turned back towards my car; I discovered its former rider.
He was lying on his back, motionless in the dirt. A piece of a dark wooden fence post-the kind that comes to a dull point- had gone through the back of his head and was sticking out where his forehead, nose, and an eye should have been. Another piece of fence had come through his abdomen. Instinctively, I turned away and opened my mouth to scream, but the choking wind entered my throat and muted me.
I stumbled towards the truck driver, his dog and the drunk. I tried to explain that there was a dead man behind the truck. They paid no attention to me. The men were too preoccupied with demanding their individual needs to one another. For a moment I wondered if the rider might still be alive, but I couldn’t bring myself to check on him. I didn’t want a more detailed image of him in my mind. I didn’t want to see, his one open eye looking back at me again. I did not want to see his blue lips. I did not want to feel his cold skin. I did not want to not feel a pulse. What about my daughter, the drunk and the driver? What should happen next? What was I supposed to do? I was suddenly overwhelmed with unanswerable questions; annoying questions. I couldn’t breathe. My heart sped up in my chest and I started to panic.
Though still in the company of the driver, the drunk, the dog and the dead, I felt completely alone; totally invisible. My words; unheard, my fears neglected. I collapsed. My hands and knees landed hard in the soft dirt.
I don’t know if I passed out or if I closed my eyes in order to shield them from the tempestuous wind. But when I opened them again it was not the wind stinging my eyes it was the sun shining through my window. I was alone, in my home, on my bed. The radio alarm came on as it did every morning. Instead of the usual music, the deejay was reporting on a fatal accident; truck versus motorcyclist.
Copyright © 2013-2017 by Stacy Sorrells