The crashes continued, so far he was unhurt. Joseph counted six crashes and was beginning to breathe a sigh of relief when suddenly a sedan swerved into the scope of his rear view mirror. With a depressing sense of inevitability Joseph knew that his typical luck was about rear its ugly head. As if bent on fulfilling Joseph’s expectations via some cosmic “Murphy’s Law” the gray Corolla corrected its trajectory and plowed directly into the back of Joseph’s car. The moment the sedan struck, Joseph’s deep thoughts were interrupted: What kind of color is gray anyway? Would it be too much to ask before I die, that I get hit by a more colorful car? Then the red Mustang hit.
When Joseph came to, he cautiously tested his faculties in a moment with mounting excitement as each responded. I can hear! This was painfully obvious even before he opened his eyes. Car horns were blaring and people were yelling and or screaming. I can smell, he observed with excitement, smelling the sweetness of the doughnuts he’d picked up for… what did he get them for? I can see! He exulted as he noticed the doughnuts squished and dashed against the jagged remains of his windshield. He could feel too! And what he felt was pain in every limb and joint.
He pushed the deflating air bag out of the way and slowly got out of his car. He stood for a moment and surveyed the island of wreckage around him which stood still amid a stream of moving cars. Those fortunate enough not be on the “island” were now pretending not to notice the plight of the less fortunate as they sped toward their waiting jobs using every spare inch of pavement and ditch in order to make their way around before the police showed up and blocked their route.
Joseph turned toward the gray car which had hit him, quickly scanning to see if the occupant was ok. As he approached the car he noticed a middle aged woman looking at him through the smashed driver’s side window, her mouth agape and emotions playing across her chubby features which were difficult to read, aside from a bruise on her head she seemed fine. What happened next surprised him, she started to scream.
Joseph had not until that moment thought to examine his face. Compelled by a sense of narcissistic emergency Joseph sped toward her side-view mirror for a look, as if viewing it quickly enough he could wish away whatever was wrong. He ducked down to look in the remains of her side-view mirror. What he saw surprised him. Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing, maybe a little redness and swelling from the air-bag powder but nothing more than what he might see in the bathroom mirror any given morning after shaving.
“I thought you were dead!” The gray car driving woman managed in a European caricature of English that sounded Swedish or something close to it in Joseph’s estimation.
“Yeah, I thought so too, for a minute,” Joseph answered.
“Where have you been? The whole country is freaking-out. But I knew you weren’t dead. I just knew it.”
“Wh…” Joseph tried to interrupt but couldn’t decide whether to respond with a question or statement or to try to convince the upset woman to just be quiet. He’d have to assume she had hit her head and was hallucinating, or was simply crazy, or more likely a crazy woman who was hallucinating.
“I’m Annie, your biggest fan! I knew you had just faked your death because you wanted a break from the business. Why else would the greatest actor our country has ever had fake his own death? I knew you were deeper than the tabloids said. Just experiencing ordinary life in America! I knew destiny needed me to zag when I should have zigged!”
*© 2007 belongs to author, name currently withheld until the contest conclusion