I didn’t have anything to post today, so I thought I’d write a short story about a lasting memory that I’ve never written about, but I’ve always wanted to and so here it is.
The light was red at the intersection and I was sitting in my car behind a black pickup truck. There were two more cars over to my right and I was watching a motorcycle on the opposite side of the lights zipping in and around cars that were lined up over there. I remember thinking to myself that the guy on the motorcycle was driving kind of kooky and it made me think of a mouse in a maze furtively trying to get out.
Then the whole memory turns into a stop motion animation film in my head.
The light turned green. The motorcycle quickly buzzed around a car and then another and all of a sudden it was in the middle of the intersection. The first car next to me took off.
That car clipped the motorcycle and he went flying sideways into the gravel onto the side of the road. All of a sudden cars were moving and horns were honking and I was both shocked and excited by what I had just witnessed. It was a real rush to my senses and I felt weirdly exhilarated for a few seconds.
I don't really remember pulling over, but the next thing I knew I was jumping out of my car and I ran over to the body lying on the gravel by the side of the road where cars were carelessly driving by, seemingly oblivious to this roadside accident that had just occurred. I assumed the car that hit him took off, because I was the only one there as traffic kept zooming onward down the road. I wondered why no one else was stopping.
I looked down at the body and saw a man with long, straggly hair and a beard and he was lying on his back. I remember he had a faded blue jean jacket on with the sleeves cut off. His arms were big and I saw a couple of tattoos on them.
As I got closer I saw a trickle of blood coming out of the side of his head and heard low moans and gurgles coming out of his open mouth. I remember stopping and feeling frozen for what seemed like forever, but it was probably just a couple of seconds.
Then I looked across the street and saw the gas station over there on the corner. I ran over and a panicked guy behind the counter told me he had seen the whole thing and had just called 911. He told me he was all alone. I bolted back out of the gas station and I heard the sirens as I ran back to the body. It was then I realized how twisted and irregular the motorcycle guy looked as he laid there.
An ambulance pulled up and before I knew it paramedics had the body on a stretcher and a policeman who didn't look much older than I was approached me and asked me what I had seen. I remember being fixated on his moustache which was only halfway grown in and to call it spotty would be somewhat of an exaggeration. I knew he was growing it to try and look older.
I told him I had seen a car hit the guy on the motorcycle but I didn't have a license number and all I knew about the car was that it was green. He took my driver's license and wrote down some information and asked if I was alright.
I didn't answer because I was staring at the ambulance as it pulled away. I felt almost hypnotized watching it as it rolled down the road with the cylindrical red lights on top of it blinking. The siren wasn't on and that bothered me.
The motorcycle was still lying there and I could smell gasoline that was leaking from the gas tank. Another police car had pulled up and two officers were walking around it.
"Are you okay, sir?" The young policeman asked me again, this time touching my shoulder in order to get my attention.
That startled me and I looked at him and asked him if the guy on the motorcycle had died. He squinted his eyes and asked if I was alright to drive away in my car.
"Did he die?" I asked him again.
"We have to clean up this area," he told me in a somewhat tired and agitated tone and he once again asked me if I was okay to drive.
I don't remember answering him or even driving away, the next thing I remember is sitting in the parking lot of a church that was just a few blocks away where my brother and our friends used to sit and smoke pot before high school. I sat there in my car for quite some time and just stared at the traffic driving by. I knew the motorcycle guy was probably dead. I remember watching the cars go by and wondering who else had recently seen someone die.
The Bruce Springsteen album, "The River" came out in October of 1980. I couldn't wait to hear it because I had been reading about it and I really liked his previous album, "Darkness On The Edge Of Town." As soon as it came out, I drove over to the record store at Sheridan Village, purchased it and excitedly drove home to listen to it. I arrived at my apartment complex, ran inside and opened up the album and savored that wonderful new inky album smell that wafted out after you tore the shrink wrap off of the album.
"The River" is a double album and the songs run the gamut from flat out rock 'n roll songs like, “Crush On You," to thoughtful story songs like the title track, "The River," to everything in between. It's my second favorite Bruce Springsteen album and I remember sitting there drinking beer, listening to the whole album and studying the album cover and liner notes.
The last song on side four of the double album set is called, "Wreck On The Highway." I sat there and listened to it and it took me right back to the day I saw the motorcycle wreck I had seen a few years earlier. I was amazed at how one song on an album by a guy I had never met could mirror something that happened to me so closely. It made me feel weird and more than a little nervous. I listened to it over and over until I was so drunk I just passed out on my beat-up sofa.
Whenever my mind drifts back to that afternoon it makes me think about how your entire lifetime is nothing more than dimestore memories that fade away like late afternoon clouds disappearing on a freezing-cold, soon to be forgotten February evening. Except for a precious few.
This is one of mine.