Sitting up straighter for a moment, I lean forward to peer out through the windshield, trying to see any upcoming signs that would tell me how far I’d travelled without noticing. Damn! I need to turn the vent on my face, and the radio. I’ll turn on the radio to keep me from remembering those things that never happened, again. Deep breath, sit back.
What the hell? My eyes snap to the rearview mirror. The Kid, sprawled out on the back seat, with his smartphone covering his face below the eyes.
“Yah, I’m good, Kiddo. Why did you ask me that?
“Well, you got kinda squirmy and jerking around, up there, muttering to yourself and messing with the dashboard and stuff. You were quiet for a while before that, so it startled me.”
“Oh. No, I’m fine, I just drifted off for a minute or two.”
“Are you sure? You hadn’t said anything in nearly a half-hour, before you suddenly sat up and started acting funny. Anyway, hey, are we meeting Mom somewhere in South Dakota, instead of going straight to her house?”
I pondered that last question for a moment, before responding. “Uh, South Dakota? What about South Dakota?”
“Don’t you remember, Grandpa? We crossed the South Dakota border a little bit ago. I noticed as we went past the Welcome to South Dakota sign, that it was five fifty-five pm, on my phone. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes. Yes, I’m fine. I was distracted by a thought, but I’m fine. We’ll turn around here at this side road coming up, and get back on track.”
Hmm. Five fifty-five, it’s six-oh-seven, now. The turn that I missed is eight miles on the other side of the border, so it must have been about a quarter to six when I passed it. Dammit. I hate wasting road time.
Back in Minnesota, it’s nearly six-thirty, I’ve lost almost forty-five minutes in this little jaunt. What a pain in the…wait, what’s that up ahead? Damn. Cars and cops, lots of them. Right in the way so I can’t get to the intersection and turn north on the main highway. What’s up with this? Ah, here comes a cop. Window open, I waited until he got to our vehicle.
“Good evening, officer. Does it look as if this is going to be a while?”
“I’m afraid so. Pretty bad accident up there at the intersection. Semi-truck driver slammed on his breaks trying to avoid a collision, and ended up jackknifing and taking out three oncoming cars. Somebody in a dark suv -our only description of the vehicle that caused it, ignored the yield sign and blew through the intersection, right in front of the semi. Truck driver didn’t even have time to blow his horn.”
A slow chill began in my stomach. “Uh, officer, how long ago did it happen? You know, hoping it won’t be much longer ‘til it’s cleared. Uh, anyone badly hurt in the crash?”
“Yes, we’re waiting on a third ambulance. Already hauled three away with the first two ambulances, they were the most badly hurt. This last fellow should be fine, but he has what looks like a broken arm. The clock on the dashboard of the truck is stopped at five forty-six, so it must have been about then.”
The cop walked off toward the cars that had stopped behind me. I looked up in the rearview mirror. Anguish and accusation in brown, eleven year-old eyes. Dammit. No choice.
I leaned out the still open car window. “Officer, can you come back here a moment? I’m afraid that I have information that you’re going to need to know about, concerning that accident.”
Kevin R. Carr 12/11/2021