"Drink scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel...
I had had a few drinks before driving home from Sally's place -- no escaping the vast hospitality of the Berens wine cellar. It was a little after midnight and the Drenthe fog had set in. Fortunately for me, 16th street was a familiar and easy drive -- many late nights dropping girlfriends off at their father's homes in Hamilton. Now I was driving my girlfriend home with me. Life had improved.
The crumpled Geo Tracker without any lights stopped in the middle of the road gave me a quick sobriety check. Slowing down, the mood power shifted from mild alcoholic comfort to mild shock to blinking disbelief. There was someone leaning against the side, and he was holding his head.
Stop. Hazards. Get out. "Are you all right?"
"I think I need some help"
His head was bleeding, and his breath stank. He was hispanic, young -- 18 maybe. His white T-shirt had a line of blood running down from his neck.
Rae was out and talking to him, asking him questions which belied first-aid training:
"Are you dizzy?"
"How long have you been standing here?"
"You need to put pressure on the cut in your head."
"We need to call 911."
I had gotten rid of my cell phone last year. Now the only avaliable phones where in sleeping residences a few hundred feet away, and a few hundred yards apart. I hoped the nearest was home, and wasn't part of the shotgun school of defense against unwanted intruders. "There's been a terrible accident!" -- that was the line from Clockwork Orange, after all.
I sprinted to the nearest, and rang the doorbell three times -- WAKEUP WAKEUP WAKEUP.
An older man in a bathrobe answered much quicker than I had expected, his wife in a nightgown a few paces behind. Already up.
"There's been an accident, someone's hurt badly. We need to call 911 and we need some towels or something to stop the bleeding."
"I heard it!" he picked up his cordless phone with extendable antenna, and dialed. "Hello, there's been a car accident -- someone's hurt. (pause) Past 16th and Fairview. (pause) I don't know. (pause) I don't know. (pause) Here!" He thrust the phone in my face.
The operator was painfully fridgid and calm. Just send an ambulance! Who cares about the report?!?
"Did you see the accident occur?"
"How many vehicles were involved?"
"How many people were involved?"
"Are they still in the vehicle?"
"No, he was outside."
I gave them my name and my car description, and other information they didn't need to know. I gave the phone back, and lady handed me a small pile of hand towels. I ran back, and Rae was sitting on the bumper of the tracker with the boy -- he had a blue windbreaker pressed up against his head.
"Man! This is my roommates car! I was just borrowing it! I am so fucked!"
"You are still alive. Don't worry about that. You'll deal with that later."
Rae said, "You could've died a couple of minutes ago. Take it easy. Keep the pressure on your head."
You are so fucked. I thought. Roommates car. Alcohol. Underage, probably. Older man and wife came to the road, I gave her back her hand towels.
"I was driving, and I think I fell asleep or something, and then I hit something and the car was rolling and I hit my head on the windshield and got out"
The Zeeland Police were there fast, and we were back in the car with the door open -- to wait around for questioning. A few minutes later the ambulance came, and he got in -- seated upright. It drove away. And it was us, three cop cars, and the inquisitive neighbors.
A plainclothes officer came to the car, and made us get out -- Did you see the accident? What is your name? Where were you coming from? Where were you going to? Where do you live? Phone numbers?
He was writing our information in the margins of the back cover of the Holland phone book. It might eventually get translated to a report. Let me go home. It's maybe 1:15 am.
After enough questions and cordial goodbyes with the neighbors who's sleep I interruped, Rae and I can get back in the car and go home -- a little different route than before since they're blocking the road ahead of us now. Whatever. I'll wander the backroads back to Zeeland. Start up my Honda and it's right in the middle of the third track of My favorite Steely Dan CD.
"They got a name for the winners in the world
And I want a name when I lose...