Carma

April 24, 2007

The only thing worse than an accident completely shutting down traffic, thinks the man in the freshly washed blue four-door corolla, is an accident completely shutting down traffic on the first swelteringly hot day of the year.

His air-conditioning wasn’t working. The windows were rolled down, but with traffic at a dead stop, there wasn’t the slightest breeze to cool off the car. He had taken off his tie and loosened his shirt, but it didn’t help. He was on his way home from work, the last one out of the office, and he was hot, and tired, and angry.

He was angry, in a perverse sort of way, at the idiots that had caused the whole mess, though he couldn’t actually see what had happened. He could see where the accident was, just at the edge of his vision, a quarter-mile down the highway – the half-dozen ambulances and firetrucks, policecars and emergency vehicles all make the location of the incident abundantly clear. Whatever it was, it had been bad – terrible, even – and they had blocked the road off entirely to deal with the crisis. A pair of helicopters scurried over head, testament to the degree of the crash.

The man in the freshly-washed blue four-door corolla didn’t care. Others, down the road behind him, had the excuse of ignorance in their anger – they didn’t know what was causing the backup. But he could see the site. People were dead and dying on the road ahead of him, and all he could think about was that they’d get it over with, get out of his way, and let him get on home.

It might have mattered more to him if he had known that, in a freak coincidence, every soul that meant something to him in the whole wide world had perished in the 12 car crash. His wife, and their pet dog Maxy she was taking home from the vet. His father, who had survived a lifetime of bad health that had claimed every other relative in his family tree, only to perish when the truck that caused the accident rammed him into the concrete barrier dividing the road. His only other relative, his cousin Ernie, who was driving that truck cross country, and had been smiling as he road through his home town when his brakes suddenly failed for no explicable reason. His boss and his sixteen coworkers, who had all filtered out of the office at just the same time. His two drinking buddies who had planned to see at the bar that night. His one true friend from college, in town on a business trip. Even the crush he had in high school, who had fled to California as soon as senior year ended. He hadn’t seen her since, and she had just come back to town for her mother’s funeral.

All dead, while he sat there under the heat of the burning sun, damning his soul a little more with every idle curse and every single callous thought.

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