It was still raining when he got the call. One of their “buses” had flipped on the high side of I-34 heading north. Patowski was gone. The edge of a forward cabinet caved in his big Pollack head. Nobody knew if he hit it or it hit him. The torque of the spin popped its rivets from the side of the rig like the snaps on a fat boy’s pants. The second ambulance crew found Pat under the cabinet and the front half of the vic’s gurney. The vic was a goner, too. “Fish-eyed and fucked,” Pat would have called him.
The unlucky shit was a regular rider with what the guys called ‘ticker-flicker,’ tachycardia being too much of a tongue twister after a long night. No need for an AED to shock his heart back into rhythm. What with his neck broke and all.
Ricky was alive, but he’d probably never forgive them for saving his busted ass. Prelim from the ER docs said he might get some feeling back from his chest up. They’d know more in six months, maybe a year. No more pedal-to-the-metal for Ricky.
FTSB was already on the horn. Hal said somebody at the capitol, 200 miles away was trying to take over the scene through his Blue Tooth. Mike shook his head at that. Those assholes at State would take anything they could get their hands on…except responsibility. They’d dink around measuring skid marks and talk nice to the press, but they wouldn’t have to look Pat’s Jenny in the eyes. They didn’t know his kids, or see his mom at Mass every Sunday.
Mike wiped his face with a clean rag from the box on the counter in the service bay. Once he’d told them about the crash, his crew cleared out in a heartbeat. Some heading to the hospital, others to the fire house. He walked from one work station to the next straightening wrenches, sliding in metal trays.
He wished to God he’d joined the Marines after high school, like he’d told everybody he was going to. They just laughed at the idea of a grease monkey marching in the sand.
“You got it made, man.” His buddies told him. “You’re walking into your dad’s shop a full partner, and it will be all yours when he finally stays put up north. Why go some place so strangers can shoot at you?” He’d listened to them and stayed, and now it was too late.
More tears and snot fell on the front of his coveralls. What did he care? It wasn’t blood. No. The blood was out there on the highway. He imagined the rain was pushing it into every groove and crease of the shattered truck’s body. Pat’s blood, Ricky’s blood, the poor, dumb fuck who was just happy to see an ambulance in his driveway. His blood. Now it was all mixing together, the rescued with the rescuers’.
Mike looked down at his stained hands. No blood there. Just a day’s worth of shit like always. Same shit…He couldn’t finish the thought. This wasn’t the same shit. It would never again be the same. The flipped ambulance was his rig. He’d worked on every moving part that didn’t have a red cross stamped on it. He knew every inch of that monster motor, the transmission, axels, wheels, and brakes, all of it.
He walked to the steel cage at the side of the bay. Oversized tires lined up behind the chain-link gaped stupidly at him. His brain caught fire and he grabbed the mesh of the cage door shaking it and screaming at those stupid, stupid tires. His own spit showered the closest one. Black on black oily little bubbles caught in deep treads that had not yet graced a steel rim.
His cries crashed into each other and shattered on the concrete block walls.
“Why? Why? Why?”
Karyn works, reads, writes short-shorts, long-longs, and spends way too much time on crimespace.ning.com