Friday, July 2, 2010


He was driving one of those little sports cars you don't see many of here in the rugged, wet and muddy Pacific Northwest.

Despite the low mileage and the high cost of fuel, plenty of us in the Great Northwest who drive for a living  prefer to remain alive than "go green".
So we drive bigger gas guzzlers like SUV's and Pick-Ups.
We do so for at least two purely tactical, selfish reasons: more room in the vehicle to stow our gear... and a better chance of surviving a crash.

He too, had a Pick-|Up, a big-350.
However, he loved his little vintage sports car and it was one of those perfect sun-kissed days.
He had the convertible cover off.  
He told me he was "high as a kite being in that car, even though I was straight as a nail. Been stone cold sober 10 years."
Then he reached into his pocket and showed me his AA medal.

"Impressive" I replied, though I was far more interested in the crown of medical gauze and tape that gave shape to the top of his skull.

"Yeah but my head's more impressive huh?" he said.
"I slid right under that semi and it shaved the top of my skull off in one piece, just missed my brain. I was told you could see it, you know. My brain. You could see the whole top of my brain."

As he spoke, I flashed to that scene from a "Silence of the Lambs" sequel with Ray Liotta's skull cap removed.... as he sat with his brain exposed,  at a luxuriously set dinner table... conversing in a zombie-like, yet civilized manner with Anothony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector.

The sport's car guy snapped me back to reality. No gory brains to look at. Just a skullcap of gauze and tape that started just above his eyebrows. And a neck brace.

He explained there were witnesses all around. One or two even came to see him at  the hospital because they wouldn't believe  he was alive until they saw it for themselves. They saw his sports car lodged under the semi as it was dragged along the ground.

I will spare you the details of his dislodging from the truck.
That alone, I assure you, was a feat of physical prowess and technical genius.
However, when a crisis hits, like a small car stuck under a semi after being sucked into it from behind...
I have such respect for the first responders and the second third, fourth, etc.
There are heroic  rescue teams and an army of Good Sams who appear to materialize from nowhere with the simple pushing of three numbers on a cell phone.
(Just an aside, but I think 911 happened on 911 because the date/ number signifies an emergency call. And that of course was America's biggest 911 call).

911 is such a powerful number for a P.I. and his/her attorney.
It opens doors to phone calls and what we call "excited utterances".
911 calls are public record and standard fodder in civil and criminal case files.
There are also police computer printouts, logs, of what calls came in, when...
and what transpired every second, minute, hour.

Police,  firemen, paramedics, aid cars, tow trucks, spill trucks, crisis managers, converged on this semi v. sports car accident scene with a stunning immediacy and synchronicity from out of nowhere.

While I have done several cases similar since... because its easy for a small car to get pushed/rear-ended or sucked under a bigger vehicle... this case stands out.

I remember it now because it was a July 4th weekend, it could have been a Friday afternoon, maybe four, five years ago.
The victim has since healed with only a lingering neck ache and a specially designed steel skull cap. Before the accident, he was losing his hair. Now he has a wig.

Yet the images taken on the hard disc of my both my camera and brain have only been partially erased.
I can get rid of camera images on a tiny disc by pushing "delete" on a button.
The other images, the ones one the mental hard drive in my head, linger. Like here, for instance.

Under the mysterious, grooved grey shroud, I see the secret inner workings of the mind as fluid and lava-lamp-like... filled with  multiple-sized bubbles of memories  in constant motion. The bubbles surface or sink depending on what triggers and colors their neurons.

The end of this story is what the man in the sports car stuck under the semi truck told me.
He was conscious the whole time.
His first thought was "Holy Sh*t, somehow I got sucked under this truck! What the F?"
His second thought was "How come I'm not dead yet?"
He yelled. No one heard him.
He said he just sat there, his hands in a death grip on the steering wheel, waiting to die to the tune of what sounded like jet engines in his head and all around him.
No long white tunnel.
No images flashing before his eyes.
Not even terror.
Just a waiting for it to end.
Then it did.

The trucker didn't know anything was wrong until he was surrounded by cars that waved him down to stop.
That big burly muscled trucker with a military tattoo cried when he saw the wounded man he helped extricate from under his truck.
"His car was so small," he told sympathetic police, "he was in my blind spot."

"I had to tell him, I was fine, that it was just an accident," the injured man in the Sports Car told me.
"I didn't know I was scalped."

After he told me his story and we said our good byes, I said one last thing to him.
"You have an angel," I said.
"I can't see any other way someone would survive what you did"

He smiled and said, "I did. I lost my mother just two months earlier from heart disease. She once told me the dead live on as angels who will always protect them until it is time to join the other angels. She was there that day... I know it."

The end of this story is that it never ends.
The intentional and uncontrollable dramas and traumas in this relatively short span of existence we have chosen to call life...
the challenges never end.... until our last breath is taken.
And even afterward, maybe the end isn't really the end?

I doubt there are over 70 plus virgins waiting for suicide bombers who blasts buses filled with locals, kids, tourists, innocent people.
Its nicer to think of angels... loved ones wearing huge pure white wings lounging on puffy white clouds....
all accessible via pearly gates  manned by a huge handsome angel/bodyguard combo, with a checklist who says,
"Yep, you done good. You're in."

Though truth be told, me... I, being ever the skeptic... have considered multiple scenarios. I lean heavily towards the Big Sleep school of thought.
No alarm clocks, no nightmares, no bills and no Housewives of New Jersey.

However it plays out, it will play out.
Play it right, and it usually works out all right.
There definitely is something to said for karma.
And angels.

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