Saturday, February 20, 2010

I think it was the snow bank. His car must have glanced it, just enough as he came down the hill, to veer more to the right than the left. That's the only reason I can think of. It had to be the snow.

We were getting out of the car, ready to go to karate class, when a faded black car came tearing up the parking lot that connects a back road to Route 30. Gavin was still climbing out of the back seat, actually, as the punk roared past us. I looked at the driver, annoyed at his speed, but more interested in the beige 4 x 4 that was pulling out of the adjacent parking area and making sure that Gavin didn't run out in front of him.

He didn't. The driver saw us, paused, and I herded Gavin -- who is "almost seven" as opposed to "only six" -- to the passenger side of the car. He deals well with my eternal belief that parking lots are full of cars ready to careen out of control and slam into him.

The parking lot is a hill, so when you pull in it's easier to get out of the driver's side (which is the downhill side) than the passenger side. He'd left his bag with sparring gear in the backseat, as usual, so I got it out. Closing the doors on that side take a little extra umph depending on just where one parks on the slope, but the over-sized button on my coat caught on the frame and the umph was for naught. Gav was patiently waiting on the other side of the car.

I didn't hear the crash itself. It was the sound of something metal dragging along the pavement that made me look up as I made my way to my little guy to hand him his bag.

The faded black car was speeding down the hill. It's front end now smashed, the bumper barely attached.

I remember screaming Gavin's name as I ran to him, dragging him backwards, remember realizing that it was making a beeline for my car's back end, and remember watching -- just watching -- as the driver somehow managed to miss by inches.

And then he was gone.

And I was kneeling and holding my son, shaking, because I had dragged us towards the front of my car and, had that punk hit my bumper, the force very well could have turned the car around and slammed it into us.

"That front was really destroyed," Gav said. "It was totally destroyed!"

"Yes, it was." My voice sounded normal, for which I was thankful.

"It was totally destroyed, Mom!" He had no clue what could have happened. Small mercies.

We made it inside and class started and I sat there, just not quite able to focus on the economics paper I was supposed to be writing.

My mind was racing and I kept seeing the car coming down the hill. Sometimes I saw my button caught on the door frame and wondered what would have been different had it not caught. I went back outside and looked at the snow piled high next to the building and at the fresh mark where he must have hit it, walked up the hill to where the accident had happened. Only the bumper of the car he'd hit remained by now. A man was on the phone, and I told him that I saw where the driver had sped off to, pointed out the road, and said I'd be in the karate school if there were any questions once the police arrived. Then I went back inside. Then back outside.

A police car was quietly sitting at the entrance to the dead end road that I'd seen the black car head down once he'd left the parking lot.

I went back inside.

Eventually, the adrenaline rush ends and rational thought returns. By the end of class, I was able to focus much better and was, for the most part, done replaying it in my mind. Thoughts of what could have happened were replaced by white hot rage and what I wanted to do to that son of a bitch who could have killed my son. The enduring image is a meat grinder and his hands so that he never drives again.

(Just because rational thought returns, doesn't mean one has to be rational, you know.)

And when we left karate and walked through the parking lot once more, Gavin listed all of the karate kicks he would have used on the driver had I been hurt.

Maybe a meat grinder is too humane.


Dennis G. Jerz said...

How many near-misses in our lives have we never noticed, because the misses weren't quite near enough? A powerful reminder of how precious every moment is.

Chantel Acevedo said...

So, so scary, Michelle. The roads are so treacherous in Pgh, moreso, I think, than in CT. I think it's all the damn hills you've got. Glad you're both well.

And yes, a meat grinder is humane.