It was a gorgeous summer morning as I, my brother David, sister
Marcia, mom, dad, and baby girl were traveling home to Laramie from
Colorado Springs where we had gone to visit my grandma. The atmosphere
in the car was fun and filled with laughter. We were glad to be together. Our
chatter was constant and our conversations often overlapped. One learned
young that if you want to be heard in my family, you must merely speak
louder than everyone else. Or, you might simply say, "Would you please shut
up for a minute so I can say something important?" We all understood that
such a plain and politely spoken command was not meant to be offensive or
at all disrespectful.
We were a bit louder than usual that morning as we had great plans for
the day. Since we had to travel through Denver, we all agreed that we should
eat at a nice restaurant and then go to the zoo where we could eat some more
and see the animals then probably eat some more.
Daddy was a bit tense and growly, his usual demeanor when traffic
was thick as it was on that Friday morning. "Everyone and their Grandma is
on this one road to Denver," he grumbled. My Daddy is claustrophobic. He
hates traffic which is the main reason I think we moved long ago to
Wyoming, the land of wide-open spaces. "You can drive more than a
hundred miles on a Wyoming highway without seeing another car," Daddy
would often brag.
That was not the case, however, in Colorado. The cars were lined up
one after another, traveling 75 miles per hour, to the horizon and beyond. We
passengers paid scant attention to the outside world as we were involved in a
thought-provoking discussion regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the
highly educational hit movie of the summer, Independence Day. The movie
answered the question: Are we alone in the Universe? with a loud no when
aliens arrived and began demolishing major cities all over the world. We all
gazed out the windshield as we laughed at my sister's comment about the
president in the film: "He was so broken up over the little wife's death that he
went immediately and put on his flying suit to go kick those alien's buts
"And how 'bout the stripper who was perfectly happy in her job and...,"
David began and never finished as a large truck two to three cars ahead began
rolling away from us straight down the highway.
Someone was screaming. Someone else was yelling.
"Oh my God. Oh, my God!"
I heard the unreal sound of a very loud syncopated rhythm like a huge
unearthly drum mixed with the nightmarish noise of metal bending, crushing,
and scraping, glass shattering with each thud of that heavy truck against the
inflexible pavement of the highway.
"There's a guy on the road! Oh God!"
"Stop the car! Stop the car!"
Brakes were squeeling, screaming, as drivers reacted. The acrid smell
of burning permeated the air. What was that smell? Rubber. There was tire
rubber all over the road as ten or more cars skidded to stops.
Someone was still screaming. Someone was crying. Who was that
crying? Oh, it was me. My face was wet.
Mama was hysterical. "Oh, no. No. Jesus, please help," she said over
and over.
The baby, awakened from her nap was crying, shrieking. She didn't
understand why the world had just erupted into chaos.
Finally, our car stopped moving. The seconds had passed so quickly
yet almost as if in slow-motion too. The truck was lying on it's top 30 feet
away in the ditch. The young man who had mysteriously appeared on the
highway was standing on his feet, just as he had landed, five feet in front of
us. It's a miracle he wasn't run over.
"Mama, you've got to get control of yourself. Quit, stop, stop
screaming!" The craziest thought flitted through my mind. I might have to
slap my mother if she didn't calm down.
Daddy, David, and Marcia were in the front seat. They quickly leapt
out of the car.
That poor boy was standing in the middle of the highway. He must
have come out of the truck. I didn't see it happen. He was running around.
He grabbed hold of a woman from a travel trailer that had stopped after the
accident. He was hugging her, clutching her so tightly. "Just like a drowning
man," I thought. She didn't look like she knew him.
"Someone help him.