The Accident – A short story

A salutary tale – and a warning to all.

Photograph ©Farnham Herald 2015

It was a quiet winter’s evening. The temperature had not risen much above zero, and the morning frost had hung heavy in trees and hedgerows all day. On my way home, I took the road through the forest. It was a long and straight road only used by locals and sales reps, looking for a fast shortcut.

I must admit, I was going quite fast, seventy-five, maybe eighty miles an hour, but hey, I drove over thirty thousand miles a year in my job, and anyway, I was in an Audi, so the rules don’t apply to me.

I smirked at that thought and reached down, momentarily, to turn up the radio to sang with the old Doobie Brothers song blaring from the speakers.

“Got those highway blues, can’t you hear my motor runnin’?

Flyin’ down the road with my foot on the floor

All the way in town they can hear me comin’

Ford’s about to drop, she won’t do no more…..”

That’s as far as I got. When I looked up, ahead in the road stood a deer. I slammed on my brakes, the car skidded on the frosty road, hit the curb, and then flipped over, and over, and over, and over. I think I counted seven, stopping only when the car wrapped itself round a tree. Somehow, I was thrown from the car, landing in a dazed heap about twenty feet down the road. I didn’t get up despite the cold. I’d seen enough ambulance documentaries my wife loves to watch to know you shouldn’t move until the paramedics came and gave you the once over. Anyway, it didn’t seem that cold. I was just dazed, disoriented, and my mind seemed it was in a fuzz, so probably best if I didn’t move. You must be sensible in these situations, better to be safe than sorry, I thought.

It wasn’t long before I heard the wail of sirens coming from both directions, an ambulance heading towards me one way and a fire engine coming towards the car. They had all their lights on, so what I didn’t expect was the ambulance to head straight for me. I was in the middle of the road, for crying out loud. Surely, they could see me.

At the last moment, I rolled over to the side of the road. If I hadn’t, he would have gone right over me. What an idiot.

I was going to have words, but I found I couldn’t move easily. I was giddy, still dazed, and things were not very clear.

I decided to sit up in the road. I knew, I shouldn’t do that, I might have a spinal injury, and that could be life-changing. But nothing was hurting, so I thought I’d give it a try. There, it was fine, no harm done.

The paramedics were both looking into the car, shaking their heads. Had they still not noticed there was no one in it? After another few minutes, the police arrived. I was glad I hadn’t had that second pint; they were bound to breathalyse me. I’ll be fine.

They’d closed the road in both directions, but still, they were ignoring me.

“That’s it,” I said to myself. “I’d better just get up and go and see them because they still hadn’t seen me.”

It was a struggle getting up, but once vertical, I seemed just fine.

“I reckon he must have been doing eighty down here, look at the skid marks,” one of the coppers said.

“Excuse me, I wasn’t doing anything over sixty if you don’t mind.”

He totally ignored me, so that was their game because they thought I’d been a naughty boy, they were just going to pretend I wasn’t there

I walked over to the car to have a look.

Oh, my goodness, there’s someone inside. How did they get there?

I looked at the car.

“Phew, that’s not mine, mine is much longer than that, and it’s a completely different shape to mine, same colour though,” I said to no one in particular. “Excuse me, have you seen my car? It must be around here somewhere.”

They didn’t answer, just stood there looking at the bloke in the car, shaking their heads.

“Bloody fool,” one of them said.

“I couldn’t agree more,” I answered.

It seemed like hours, but eventually, they cut him out of the car and put him in a body bag.

I knew it was morbid, disrespectful even, but I went over to have a look before they zipped it up.

I couldn’t make out much face. It was covered in blood.

“Stop!” I shouted, “I saw his lips move. He’s still alive.”

I bent to listen. He was singing, actually singing at a time like this.

“Oh, rockin’ down the highway

Oh, rockin’ down the highway

Oh, rockin’ down the highway

Oh, rockin’ down the highway.”

Wasn’t that what I was singing just before the crash?

Song Lyrics ©The Doobie Brothers.

© Joseph R Mason

Kindly edited by Leila Kirkconnell.

Song Lyrics ©The Doobie Brothers.

© Joseph R Mason

Kindly edited by Leila Kirkconnell.

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