Monday, 2 March 2009
written by Kyle
The car was obviously totaled, curled up upon the guard rail flipped over, smashed upon a tree. The rain had just started before midnight and it was apparent I was the first to arrive. I quickly dialed 911 from my phone as I pulled over, hazard lights on, being careful not to run over the parts of glass and debris on the on ramp to the Outer Loop of the Washington DC beltway. The scene was grim and I was all too aware of what I'd find when I looked in the wrecked car.
"Thank you for calling Prince George's 911 emergency line, please do not hang up as your call is important to us. All operators are assisting other people, please hold and your call will be answered in the order it was received." This was the greeting I got and very suddenly I realized how alone I was with this car and whoever was inside this wreck, how very alone I felt. While I walked over to the car hesitantly, I knew I was about to look into a world I was not comfortable with nor necessarily prepared for. There was no one else.
It was rather warm here for late February this evening. The smell of newly fallen rain on the asphalt conflicted with the very brutal smell of burned rubber and gasoline. A tire, still spinning, yet the car dead still. The scent of a beautiful Virginia Pine tree ripped in half by the car's engine torn from its guts. It seemed as time was not moving, still on hold, and the lonely feeling growing as the 911 hold message continued. It all seemed such a contradiction.
All the sudden one car, another motorist, drives by and I frantically try to flag them down. You could hear the car very purposely accelerate away from the accident, away from what they would see. Then another motorist, and another and another; 4 cars passing by, speeding up, not stopping no matter how frantic my arms flapping, no matter how obvious the wreck spilled onto the roadway like spilled milk on a table. They even made attempts to drive around the debris, around the accident and me, accelerating away. And I felt more alone.
Gingerly, I knelt down beside the car, removing a large branch blocking the small view inside the car, flipped upside down, twisted in a ball of metal, glass and pine. As I peered inside, the 911 operator answered finally. It felt like 3 hours, but I knew it was only a minute or two, time seemed to stop. I gave the operator the address of the wreck while I quickly noticed no person or persons were inside the vehicle! But where did they go?? Did they escape? I hung up after the operator said help was on the way, and I stood up and yet another motorist passed. I waved my arms, and this time I caught the drivers eye as he curiously gazed on, like a peeping tom, hiding inside the world of his car. And then he too sped away, and I felt alone.
I frantically looked around calling out into the woods, as if someone could hear me, as if my voice could see what I didn't want to see before my eyes. I saw no one and nothing around. I had no flashlight and the darkness of the night became all to obvious to me. A cop pulled up moments later as I must of looked like a man coming out of the wreck himself, confused, angry and alone. Then another cop then another.....and the loneliness began to fade. Perhaps, not the loneliness felt by the driver....who the cop pointed out to me, up in a pine tree, illuminated by his powerful flashlight....a person, twisted in a mangled heap of flesh, bone and tree....wrapped around another pine tree like a wet sock hanging loosely around a stair banister. Was this real? The added flashlights of the other cops quickly lighted the enormous spray of blood dripping from the trees, on the leaves and pine needles, pieces of this poor person everywhere.
The thing that stood out to me, the thing that I focused on was his tennis shoe, still on his leg, dangling precariously from a branch. Why a tennis shoe? It all seemed so...confusing and unreal. Why was he wearing a tennis shoe? Was he out jogging earlier? The thoughts that go through your mind when you pay attention can be somewhat amazing and disturbing.
The poor fellow, this night, walked through a door he did not mean to walk through, and had no way to get back to the place he never meant to leave. And I felt as if I was able to look through the door as if it was closing, and his tennis shoe was the last thing I saw. Then it hit me, the reason why the other motorist didn't want to stop or help....they didn't want to see that which they knew would be there, they didn't want to see through that door....as if not being next to this body makes death somehow less real.
It is almost spring here, and oddly enough, the thought that this mans blood was going to feed the new growth in that patch of woods entered my mind. His life carried on through those new trees and bushes, through spring, he re-entered the whole....that door, which can open up at anytime, anyplace, that feeds the dead back to the living. I've learned to treasure this terrible moment, his death so horrible, so unexpected certainly sparked a renewed effort within me.
Somehow now, I don't feel so alone anymore.
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