The sky was dark and the rain started to pound the streets. The walk to the bus station was too far when it was raining. Driving was another option, but it was something that I usually didn’t do. However, the thought of being alone in the car and not on a bus full of people, was appealing. More than anything was the fact that I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain and wait. So, it was settled that I would drive to work.
It had been at least two weeks since the engine had been started, but sitting in the car and waiting for the fuel and the oil to flow through was somewhat relaxing. Once I flipped through the dials on the radio and found a good song, it was easy to sink into driving bliss. The garage door opened and I could almost taste the freedom of the open road. One thing was for certain, I was never going to wait this long to drive again.
My foot eased the pedals and all was clear as I backed the car out of its prison. Even the rain couldn’t stop me from doing what felt right, and that was driving this beautiful car.
“Oh my God!”
An ear piercing scream echoed in the car. It was my neighbor, Michelle. She was wearing a robe and holding a huge umbrella.
“John, stop!” she screamed as she ran to my car. “Don’t you feel that?”
I was slightly confused. It was hard to understand what she was saying because my windows were rolled up, the radio was on, and it was raining.
“John, please stop driving. You are running over Shelly!”
Her frantic arm waving and high pitched voice caused my feet to slam the brakes.
She ran to the back of the car. Since the rain was still falling, I franticly looked for an umbrella. In my rush to drive the open highway, I left it by the front door. Realizing that she wasn’t going to come back to save me from the downpour, I stepped out of the car.
“What’s wrong Michelle?” “What did I do?” By now I was drinking my words. The rain had completely soaked my body. Michelle looked up at me as I reached the back of the car. Blood was being washed down the street by the rain. My heart sank.
It was Shelly, another neighbor’s dog. She lived with a nice family, who rescued Shelly from the humane society years ago. Shelly was always letting herself in and out of the house through her dog door. When I looked back at the fence, it was open.
“Is she alive?” I asked.
Michelle looked at me with disgust on her face. “Shelly is dead.”
“Michelle, I had no idea that Shelly was back there!”
She still didn’t stop looking at me. The rain had washed the blood from her hands. The umbrella that was keeping her dry, previously, was now making crescent moon shapes in my driveway. I was almost tempted to pick it up and use it for myself. However, this wasn’t about me. Poor Shelly was under my tire and it was my fault.
“What are you going to do John?” “The Bakers aren’t home right now, but when they find out about this, they’ll be devastated.”
“I know Michelle.” I certainly didn’t need a lecture in the pouring rain, from a lady who sits at home all day, watching pointless tv.
It was time to end this. The clock was ticking by and the situation was drawing more attention.
“I’ll put Shelly in my garage and leave the Bakers’ a note.”
Her eyes looked down at the mangled mess and back towards me. The disgust on her face was still there, but it was clear she didn’t want to be involved. Plus, I’m sure she was missing some soap opera.
“That’s fine John. I don’t want to stand out here anyways, I have things to do.”
With that, she grabbed her umbrella and stood under her front porch for shelter.
Looking at what I had done was not settling. The more I stared at poor Shelly, the more I wished I would have taken the bus. It was too late now. The bus was long gone, as I too should have been. I returned to my car and drove forward. The scrapping of Shelly’s bones echoed inside the car. The sounds sent chills throughout my body.
Knowing that I didn’t have much time to get to work, I grabbed a lawn bag from the garage. What was meant to hold leaves and fallen limbs was now going to hold a dead dog. A dog that I had carelessly ran over. I moved Shelly off the concrete with a shovel and placed her in the bag.
The neighborhood was watching me. Curtains would fall back into place every time I scanned the houses.
Shelly was a rather large dog. Trying to pick her up, while it was raining, was difficult. I felt bad, but dragging her into the garage was my only option. What was even more stressful, was knowing that I had to be at work soon.
Writing about how I ran over a dog was nerve racking. There wasn’t an easy way to put it. I worked in accounting, not the sympathetic note-writing department. However, it had to be done.
It is with deep regret and ultimate sorrow, that I must give you this awful news. I, John Maxwell, your neighbor, accidentally ran over your dog. It happened this morning. Shelly is in my garage and I will be home around six. Again, I am VERY sorry.
Honestly, I’m not sure I could have said it any better, given the circumstances. My clothes were soaked and the clock was constantly reminding me of how late I was. Braving the rain, again, I ran next door and shoved the letter inside the mail slot. With the same amount of energy, I changed clothes and continued to work.
Knowing that I was going to be late, calling was high on the priority list. Since driving wasn’t something that I did on a regular basis, talking on the phone while operating a vehicle, wasn’t my best quality. In that short time, my car(I), hit another vehicle.
It took a while before I actually realized what happened. Shaking off what was becoming a very bad day, I heard a disturbingly booming voice. Smoke from the broken car and sheets of rain made it difficult to see where the voice was coming from.
“Hey jackass, get out of your car!” The voice bellowed from an incredibly huge man. He started to pound on my window.
“Look what you did to my truck!”
His constant yelling did not make me want to get out of the car any faster. That’s when I found myself locking the doors. His fist found his way to my windshield and he started beating on the glass like an angry gorilla.
His body was massive. He was covered in tattoos and of course, didn’t mind showing them off by wearing a shirt with ripped sleeves. The rain covered his skin and you could see the veins in his body pulsing.
There was nothing that could make me get out of this car. I started to pick up my phone and call the police. The large man then looked at me as if I had committed a crime. His eyes stared deeply into mine and the look had actually distracted me from pushing the rest of the numbers. He then took his fist and slammed them into my windshield. The force sent tiny cracks across the glass. In my sudden reaction, my body left the seat, and the phone fell to the floor. My eyes were still locked on his face. The man looked at me for a few seconds longer and started walking towards his truck. Not knowing what he was about to do, I found myself frozen.
‘John!’ ‘You have to snap out of it and call the police!’ The voice in my head was loud. Quickly coming out of my hypnotized state, I searched for my phone. A car door slammed in the distance and I feared he had come back to kill me. My body’s temperature flashed in waves of heat. My palms were clammy and it was becoming difficult to grab the phone.
I started shaking and was sure he was standing at the window with a gun or some other weapon. Slowly turning my head to face certain death, I heard the squealing of rubber. Quickly looking up, the man was speeding off.
Why would someone drive away like that? What would cause you to act like a psycho and then just leave? Maybe he didn’t want any confrontation from the cops.
One thing was for sure, at least I wasn’t going to be in too much trouble. That crazy gorilla left the scene of an accident and it wasn’t even his fault. Listening to the rain tap my car, I couldn’t help but think of how I should have taken the bus.
After waiting in what was becoming a cold car, the police, insurance company, and the tow truck driver made their rounds. The whole time I was focused on the man who left the scene. His stature, the crazy looks, and the way he left. It didn’t seem right and the whole situation made me feel uneasy. The town wasn’t that big and if he wanted to find me, it wouldn’t be that hard. That made me feel extremely paranoid. I felt myself looking over my shoulders and constantly scanning my surroundings.
It was then, while waiting for an estimate from the local garage, I saw him. Again, I found myself frozen; looking at what I believed to be a psycho.
“Sir, your paper work is ready.” It was the young girl behind the counter.
The man was parked across the street, waiting in his truck. Did he really follow me over here? What was going on? Maybe it was just my imagination. I closed my eyes tightly and a vision of him flashed before me. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. Where did he go? Was he even there?
“Sir, your paper work is ready.” Her voice was a bit sterner this time and as I looked around me, people in the lobby were staring.
“Sorry, I just thought I saw someone.” Did I see someone? Looking over my shoulder again, he wasn’t there. This was something I had to snap out of. A headache started piercing behind my eyeballs.
“Sir, are you okay?” The look on her face was genuine, but you could tell she really wanted to get to the next customer. “Your car won’t be ready for a few days. The radiator is busted and we have to order the part.” “Do you have a rental car?”
I almost couldn’t answer her simple question. Driving was out of the question.
“My insurance isn’t that great and I’m not sure I want to drive anymore.”
Seeing that some people in line were getting a little impatient, I moved over to the side and signed all the appropriate pages. The irony of this whole situation was that I was going to have to take the bus home.
Finishing what needed to be done at the garage, I made my way outside where it was still raining. Finding the nearest bus stop, I took a seat at the bench. It was only thirty minutes until the next bus, but the wait felt like hours. What I really wanted to do was go home and get this entire day over with.
Maybe the scary guy just wanted to mess with me for hitting his truck. He obviously didn’t want to be involved with the police, and to pay me back for not paying attention, he planned to make me nervous by following me around. It was working. However strange the plan was, it was working.
The bus arrived and as I took my seat, I saw him. He was parked across the street and as soon as the bus pulled out, so did he. On the verge of panicking, I franticly searched for my cell phone. Searching every pocket I had over and over, it dawned on me that I left it in my car. Wanting desperately to call the police, I asked anyone that would listen if I could borrow their phones. It was useless. They turned their backs and acted as if I were a crazy person.
What was I going to do? Knowing that I couldn’t ride this bus forever even made me more nervous. Why was this happening to me? What was it that I did wrong? What made my heart race more was the fact that the bus didn’t have a back window. How was I to know if he was still following me? I didn’t, and that was scary. When the bus reached my stop, the only choice I had was to run home. It was a half mile to my house and the rain was still coming down. Not to mention, it was getting dark.
Jumping off the bus, I could feel everyone looking at me. It was the story of my life, today. Everything I have done has ended with stares and glares. The unfortunate part of this day, was that it was not over.
Getting myself together, I prepared to make a run for it. Certainly making the right decision this time because he was right behind me. Why doesn’t he just kill me now? It’s dark enough that no one would know what happened. Visions of what he was going to do to me clouded my brain.
That’s when I thought, what if he just wants to give me his insurance? Maybe I was giving myself a heart attack for nothing. That thought was quickly erased when I thought of all the times he could have given me the proper documents. He was slowly driving behind me, waiting for me to enter my house, so he could kill me, or something of that nature.
Finally reaching my doorstep, I fumbled for my keys while franticly looking behind me. He slowed his truck to gaze at me and drove off. What was he doing? Was this really happening to me?
Slamming the door open, I quickly shut and locked it. Falling to the floor, tears filled my eyes as I was certain that he would come back. I jumped off the floor and ran to the phone. My hands were soaking wet and dialing three numbers started to become very difficult.
Suddenly, loud knocks filled the house. I dropped the phone and it fell to pieces on the hard tile floor. It must be him. It had to be him. Who else would be knocking on my door like that?
Slowly, I walked towards the door trying not to make a sound. A hundred thoughts of how I was going to die filled my mind. What was really sad, is how none of the thoughts were how to survive.
Maybe death is what I secretly wanted.
The peephole didn’t make it easy to see who was at the door. To my relief, the frame was smaller than the crazy mans’.
“John, are you in there? It’s your next door neighbor.”
What did she want? I did not need visitors right now. Taking a second look through the peephole, I saw Patricia Baxter. Then, I quickly remembered why she was at my door. Poor Shelly was in my garage.
Opening the door, I prepared myself for the worst. Even though Patricia was soaking wet, I could still see the tears on her face. She quickly smacked me across the face. The stings of pain made me feel alive, which was better than facing death.
That’s when I saw him. Instead of sitting in his truck and watching me, he was walking towards my house. In his hands I saw a shotgun. The rain bounced off the metal and I could swear that the splashes looked like glitter.
Why would he kill me when I have a witness? Maybe he had waited long enough. Witnesses or not, he was going to shoot me.
Grabbing Patricia’s arm, I threw her in the house. She screamed and asked what the hell I was doing. Quickly gaining her balance, she saw what was coming and started to scream some more. It took all my strength to try and close the door behind me. He had already made his way to my porch and was pushing the door open.
Patricia was yelling and asking questions that I had no answers to. My body gave up and he flung the door open. Falling backwards next to Patricia, I kept my eyes on the crazed man.
He slammed the door shut and locked us in. Patricia started crying and started to plead for her life. She told the man how she was only here to get her dead dog. She told him that I ran over her beloved Shelly, and to let her get her dog so she could leave.
It made me angry that Patricia had pawned me off to save her life, but I was sure I would have done the same. Instead of letting Patricia go, he stroked the barrel of his gun. He was caressing it like a woman touching her freshly shaved legs. The silence in the air was unsettling. Turning my head, I looked at Patricia. She was still sobbing, but her eyes were closed. Was she making her peace with God? Should I be doing the same?
It wasn’t right. None of this was right. Questions of doubt and anger filled my head. The biggest one was why. Why didn’t I take the bus?
It was after looking at the man in my living room a second time, when I too started to make my peace. My life wasn’t bad, just unfulfilled. All the things I had always wanted to do were out of reach now.
Camping, hiking, skiing, paragliding, the list was long and would never be finished. My funeral played out in my head. Sobs from my mother filled my ears. Her dreams of hoping I would meet a nice girl and start a family would never happen, as I was her only son. The laughter of my children around a campfire played out and I imagined sitting there, filling sticks with marshmallows. What I wanted would never be. Looking once more at Patricia, I wondered if she was thinking about her family too. Then, I looked at the man holding the gun.
He was still stroking the barrel. Was he thinking about whom he wanted to kill first? His hand grasped the barrel and he forcefully pumped the gun. The sound was horrifying. It put everything into perspective. You could hear the bullet enter the chamber.
Patricia screamed and her body jumped back almost a foot. I too jumped and gasped what was sure to be my last breath. He took the shotgun and pointed it at Patricia. Her eyes shut tightly and I saw her prepare herself for the impact of the bullet.
Why wasn’t he saying anything? Couldn’t he give us, especially me, a reason as to why he was doing this? It wasn’t fair. Watching his fingers, he pressed lightly on the trigger and the bullet left the chamber. The sound was extremely loud. Everything around me was in slow motion. Patricia fell backwards and the blood flew from her chest. It sprayed on my face and oozed all over the floor.
Rage flowed through my veins. Immediately I screamed at him and asked him why. He was still silent. He pumped the shotgun, and Patricia’s bullet casing hit the floor. This man was not going to stop until he got revenge. It made me sick to think what he would have done if I had really damaged his truck.
However, what was worse than death? Knowing you were going to die was horrific. Slowly dying from old age had to be horrible too. It was essentially the same, right? No, it wasn’t the same.
Facing death before your time was not the way I, or anybody else wants to go. Living out a life and dying when you were old was much different, I was sure of it.
I felt the bullet hit my chest. My body fell backward and my head smacked the floor. The casing hit the floor and the sound, like all of the sounds of the day, rang in my ears. It was the final sound of the man walking out of my house and shutting the door, that made me feel a slight relief.
Never again did I have to worry about everyday situations. The warmth of my blood felt good against my cold body. When I looked at Patricia, my last thought was disgust about the one decision that changed this entire day. I should have taken the bus.