I didn’t notice him right away, the paparazzo on the motorcycle. He pulled up alongside us when we stopped at a light. I remembered his long horse face and ponytail from the group on the sidewalk, and he hung way too close to the Audi for my comfort. When the light turned green, we picked up speed again, making our way through three more green lights.
The guy on the motorcycle hovered around my front-right bumper as if his hand rested on the car. I worried he would follow us back to the house, so I tapped the brake just a little to shake him off. The guy apparently decided that now was his chance. He pulled in front of us and whipped his camera out of his jacket. It all happened so fast that I didn’t realize what he was doing at first. The idiot was attempting to take a picture through our windshield without crashing his motorcycle. He wasn’t successful. He spilled his bike right in front of us, and his body skidded across the pavement. My first reaction was not to kill him, though now I wish I had. I instinctively slammed on the brakes and swerved to the left to avoid splattering the biker. But I forgot about the oncoming traffic, and when I saw the giant black Escalade barreling toward the Audi’s passenger side, I panicked.
Even though time sped by so fast, I saw it in slow motion, just like the movies. Maybe the adrenaline in my body made everything around me seem to slow down, but I saw the mammoth SUV coming at us, and there was nothing I could do. At the same time, all I could think about was how Jack was going to kill me for destroying his new car. I didn’t realize that things were much worse until I heard the screams from the backseat and the explosions of the side air bags. I heard a deafening crushing sound and a piercingly loud screeching of metal scraping against metal. The acrid smell of burning rubber grew in intensity as I sat unable to move, dazed in the moment. I didn’t feel any pain—not yet, anyway. I called out to Jack—no answer. I couldn’t hear anything more, only the pounding of the blood in my head, and then I was on the ground, lying in the street. The heat of the pavement scorched my back. Someone had dragged me out of the car. A fireman, a paramedic, or just a guy on the street—I wasn’t sure. I must have passed out then, because the next thing I knew, I lay in a fog in the emergency room, and I didn’t even remember the ambulance ride. Copyright 2013 Susan Schussler