The car, SUV, or whatever it was once was, lay on its side as if it had been a mound of dough slapped flat by callused hands then thrown against a concrete pillar. The pillar was real and seemingly unscathed—still standing proudly helping support the platform above it. But the vehicle—whatever sort it might have been now wrapped around it was just this deformed and rubbery thing. The vehicle, (I was told the make and model before arriving on the scene, but couldn’t remember the details), had an upstanding 5-star safety rating of reinforced steel and hard plastic. Yet today it was just clay. And out of that unglazed pottery shot a solitary arm of flesh and blood—mostly blood. It belonged to what was presumed to be the one person wearing their seatbelt. A lot of good it did them. Another two bodies whose profiles could still be seen under the thin, white sheets now covering them were resting about 15 yards past the pole at an almost exactly 45-degree angle on either side of it. Such is life (and death) and foolishness and just plain bad luck.
“John?” She asked bringing me back out of my vision.
“Oh, no, don’t go” I said still tasting the fumes of pizza dough mixed with burnt oil and machinery.
“Oook” she said. Or maybe it was just a regular “Ok”. I took it as a drawn out “Oook”, though, mixed in with a quizzical squinting of the eyes and a meaningful shift of her head that indicated a shared, profound moment that was not fully understood on her part yet warranted further investigation and effort.
Did she not realize that I was trying to save her life and those of her two passengers? Nay, her three passengers if I had agreed to go on this suicide mission to dinner? Where would I have landed before hidden by some cloth sheet?
But as she walked away down the row of low-walled cubicles in my office and chatted with others I realized that she was extending the same invitation to my peers like a grade-school child who has to by the powers-that-be invite her whole class to a birthday party or so none feel excluded. If that is unacceptable then invite no one at all.
She was going to die tonight. I knew it. I had seen it. I had smelled the ungodly smell of it all. I saw the bodies. But where would my body have flown? Or would I have been some Han Solo wearing my seatbelt frozen in time and space with some appendage sticking out of the wreckage?
And yet she didn’t. She didn’t die that is. Because it is now the next day with me in my cubicle and her walking the aisle chatting. I imagined an earthquake and how we would react. Who would get stuck with a life-ending injury caused by a fractured florescent bulb plunging into their heart? Then masked people enter our area with guns and shoot everyone.
That is my life. I am paid to imagine the worst. And while my imagination has no basis in reality I take what I can and frankly see it as a movie.