It was a particularly long, shitty
day on the Adirondack Community College campus
. I had screwed up
because I didn't read the instructions properly, and a severe weather
front was cutting across Glens Falls
, New York
. My windshield wipers were shot, and my battery was dying a slow death. The downpour
didn't start until my hand hit the door leading out towards the parking lot.
I dropped my keys in the four-inch deep puddle that had magically appeared around my car. To think I was pleased when I saw the exceptionally well-placed parking spot that morning. Nobody parked there because they knew that a storm was coming, and it was the first place to flood. I retrieved the keys and slid behind the wheel of my 1966 Dodge Dart.
The car fired up on the first try. I should've known something was up, since it hadn't done that in four months. The car seemed eager to get going, and I had to agree with it. The winds began to whip the rain into sheets of water, which my windshield wipers played with but didn't displace off the glass. I eased out of the parking lot, the lights lining the streets temporarily outjuiced by the lightning from the thunderheads. I turned on the headlights, which made the old car seemingly groan under the added electrical stress.
I pointed the car towards home, staying well below the speed limit. As the small city blended into the Adirondack Mountain countryside, my headlights and Ben Franklin's inspiration overhead were the only sources of illumination. Luckily the lightning happened to flash as I rounded the sweeping S-curve on Route 9N.
In the middle of the road was the remnants of a vehicle. I couldn't tell what it was, but it was big, like a Chevy station wagon. The front end was missing, and so was the passenger side. My battery and wipers were old, but the brakes and tires were less than two weeks old. I slowed my Dart down, coming to a stop a foot away from the wreck. If the lightning hadn't flashed at that time, I would've plowed into the vehicle and hit the trees on the side of the road. I would've also killed the woman who was standing next to the scrap metal.
I put my car into reverse and backed around the S-curve. I put on my hazard lights and lit off the three road flares I had bought when I filled my tank last. Hopefully that was enough warning to keep people from plowing into the accident scene. I pulled on my wet jacket and trudged back to the scene, guided by my six-cell flashlight.
The lady was still standing next to her ex-vehicle. She had some lacerations to her face, but nothing serious from first glance. I asked her if she had any passengers, since I didn't want to look where the car was peeled like a grape. I was half-expecting to see body parts strewn on the road. She focused her eyes on me and said no, she was alone. The alcohol on her breath was intense, and I then placed her face. She was the wife of a gent who owned a bar about five miles away. They were always stiffing bands who played for them, and they had short-payed my pals earlier that month. She was plastered, which probably saved her life at the same time it almost took it away.
I took care of her immediate injuries. I gave her my jacket, since she was shivering in the downpour. I had a clean handkerchief, so I had her hold it to her forehead to stem the bloodflow.
She began complaining about her asshole husband, and I began to look around to see what tree she had hit. There was a long line of debris going around the second half of the S-curve. I heard someone ahead yelling, so I told the drunken lady I'd be right back. She then said, "Oh, yeah, you should check on the guy I hit."
I sprinted up the roadway. In an equally shattered manner, a Toyota sat in the center of the street. There was a guy yelling for help. His passenger side was completely sheared from the car, and the engine was pushed back almost into where the passenger seat used to be. The guy had been sitting in the dark rainfall yelling in agony. I told him to stop yelling, that I was there to help him. He calmed down a bit, but he was in shock. I told him to talk to me, since I didn't want him going to sleep. I peered around the twisted steel and aluminum, but he was alone. The dash had collapsed on him, and he was pinned in. He said he thought his legs were broken, and I could see blood by his legs. He was banged up pretty badly.
He saw the oncoming car before I did. He warned me, and I went out waving my flashlight to stop them. An elderly couple was driving the pickup truck, and they thought I was the driver of the wreck. I told them that the man was badly hurt, and that there was another wreck around the curve. They turned around and went to phone the police.
I went back to the trapped man. He was complaining of being very tired. I began to question him to keep him awake. He was vacationing in the Adirondacks with his very pregnant wife. They had stopped at a hotel for the night, but she wanted ice cream. He, being the dutiful husband, went out into the storm to find a store that carried her favorite brand. As he rounded the first part of the curve, he saw the other oncoming car on the wrong side of the road. Had the drunk been mostly in the correct lane, the guy would have been crushed instantly. I turned the conversation away from the accident and to his wife. What was he going to name the new baby? Where did they live?
I kept chatting with the man until the police arrived. Apparently the elderly couple made it sound like there was a huge pileup, because six police cars, two ambulances, a paramedic and two fire trucks showed up. I told the paramedics the guy was badly hurt, and what I had done for him. The police brought the drunk lady to the Toyota. She began to bawl when they began to cut the guy out of the car. He lost consciousness because of the pain.
I told one of the officers I knew all that we had talked about, including his name, where he was from, where he and his wife was staying, et cetera. I described what I saw when I first arrived on the scene, and that I saw the lady was clearly drunk.
The ambulance folks took her into one of their vehicles and strapped her down. I told the officer that she had my jacket and handkerchief. He took my name and phone number down. I left as the emergency crew finished getting the guy out. It turned out he had broken his hip, his right arm, his right leg and a few ribs. I think he held up pretty well for someone with that kind of bodily damage.
My car again started right up when I turned the key. I threaded my way past the wrecks, then headed home. The rain let up to a steady drizzle, and when I arrived home I breathed a sigh of relief.
The lady got probation. I never did get my jacket back.