The Accident

The Accident

The Accident

The screaming confuses me.

I walk, or maybe it’s more like shuffle, since I pulled myself from the wreckage. I was resting upside down, my knuckles against the roof of my truck, and my wrists bent awkwardly. Even now, one of them is turned funny, although it doesn’t hurt like I thought it would. I think it’s the shock, still chasing away the pain.

I clawed my way out of there. Inch by inch, a task even the able-bodied would find tiresome. But I kept crawling away from it because I wasn’t sure my legs could support me. For a moment, I thought one was broken, but it wasn’t the case, and I managed to get to my feet. So, as I stood, swaying slightly from the exertion, hearing the groan of metal behind me, I tried to turn my head to look over my shoulder, but I couldn’t. So, I stopped and angled myself around. There was the truck… upside down, windows busted, frame bent.

What in the hell?

I made a disgusted noise, reeling again as if my legs didn’t want to keep me upright. And as I stood there, trying to keep my balance, I heard a sound—Whomp! Whomp!—I slowly gazed around my surroundings, wondering where it came from, searching intently. Soon, above me, just over the trees where my truck had come to rest, a large, metal bird with rotaries cutting through the sky flew over my head.

Hey! I thought I screamed. I’m here… right here.

I swung myself around, calling out to the giant metal bird flying toward a building in the distance, winking in the sun. If it was going there, then I needed to, as well. I shuffled along, slowly at first, testing my legs. I thought I could go… get some help. I didn’t know how long I walked, but I kept hearing noises ahead of me—always ahead of me. I stayed on the road, shuffling along as fast as I could. I’m sure I was dazed for a while as I walked since I don’t remember much of my journey.

But soon, I reached the small town—a downtown area with many buildings, water fountains, park benches, and walking paths.

A few people don’t even look up as I pass them. I consider asking them for directions to their hospital, but I think it’s straight ahead, one of those tall buildings, so I don’t bother. I keep shuffling, thankful the adrenaline hasn’t worn off yet, and not looking forward to when it does.

I see a few people ahead of me and reach out my good hand, calling out to them. Their heads jerk up, eyes wide, frozen, it seems. That is until one backs away. I’m sure I’m a mess after the wreck, but don’t you see I need help? Then they run from me, and I hope they are running to find help. I call after them to bring someone back to assist me, which spurs them on until they disappear behind another building.

I walk along after them, hoping they are trying to find help for me.

I stumble a moment later. Looking down at my feet, I see the side of my tennis shoe is torn. A dirty sock and the side of my foot peek out, threatening to slip through at any moment. Damn. I really like this pair. I keep moving on, calling out to some who point at me and scramble away. A group of teenage girls and boys stand to the side and take out their phones, angling the backside toward me. I hear their gossip but can’t quite make out the words. It makes me angry.

“Yeah, that’s right!” I call to them. “Take a picture instead of getting me help!”

They act startled. One drops his phone as the others take off. He fumbles to pick it up and then races away. I shake my head, annoyed, mumbling to myself. I glance around, hoping I’m going in the right direction for the hospital. It seems like I’ve walked forever. Surprisingly, I’m not tired, nor do I hurt yet, and I think it’s still the adrenaline from earlier. I’ve heard stories of people so saturated in it they didn’t feel pain or even broken bones for hours, even up to a day later. But once that wears off… shit, I’m going to be so sore.

Is that a hospital sign?—I think I’ll ask for pain meds. I was never one for taking drugs, but hell, I did flip my truck. If I self-medicate for a few days, then it’s just fine with me.

I hear a scream ahead of me.

I know I was just in a car accident, but I head to it. No one else seems to be, and if I’m the closest, then I need to help. I limp along… shit, my shoe. It flops around my ankle, but I hear a scream again. I reach the end of a building, and I see him. He has her cornered.

“Hey, dude? Seriously? Leave her alone.”

He swings around, confusion on his face. He’s dressed in scrubs. Oh, good, the hospital is close by!

“I’m just asking her a question,” he tells me.

I look at her, where she’s pressed against the wall. But the moment she sees a chance to slip by him, she does so. He swings back around.

“Great. Just great,” he mutters.

“Hey, you’re with the hospital, right?” I step closer to him.

“I… I think so.”

“Well, you’re in scrubs, so I just figured. Or, hey, do you work in a clinic somewhere?”

He looks down at his clothes, light blue with a dark stain on the top and part of his pants. “Yeah. Yeah. That’s right.”

“Spill your coffee?” I ask with a smile.

He looks down at himself. “Damn.”

“That must have burned,” I tell him, and he nods. “Well, maybe you can help me get to the hospital. I’ve been in an accident.”

“Sure. Yeah… yeah, of course. Let’s head out this way.”

We continue on, the two of us walking slowly along, bumping shoulders occasionally. Ahead I see the woman. She’s clutching her purse with one hand and gripping an officer’s arm with the other as she leans in.

“Hey, an officer,” I say. “I need to tell him about my accident. I’ll need a report for my insurance.”

“Yeah, stupid insurance. Always needing proof,” he grumbles.

“You run into that a lot, then?”

He nods… I think he does, anyway. The woman in front of us now points, and the officer looks our way. Then he jerks in surprise. Yep, I’ve been having this effect on everyone since my accident. Maybe I defied the odds with this one. I might look frightful, but I’m alive. My shoe still flaps against my ankle as I walk, threatening to trip me with every step.

“Insurances are so picky. You get one thing wrong on the form, and it’s denied,” he says, shaking his head. “I hate insurance.”

“Stop!” a voice calls out.

We jerk our gazes to the owner of the voice. I look around, wondering who the officer is talking to. The woman who ran from us backs up behind him, and it seems she’s ready to run. Come on, lady. I’m wounded. I’m not supposed to look good.

“Did he just say something?” my new friend asks.


We keep walking. The officer backs up into the woman, his hand at his side. He repeats his command, his other hand outstretched as if warding us off.

“Do I really look that bad?” I ask.

My friend swings his head over to me, looking me up and down. “No. I mean, you were in an accident, but you look good, man. And I can help you at the hospital.”

Oh, yeah. Forms and shit. “Good deal… oh, he’s shouting again.”

The officer draws his gun.

“Shit,” my friend mumbles.

“What? Did you do something illegal?” I hope I’m not with a felon… but he is wearing scrubs, so…

He looks at me with a lopsided grin. “Nothing they can pin on me,” he quips.

I chuckle. I extend my hand to the officer to tell him it’s okay, and we hear another scream. The cop jerks, turns, and takes off running, leaving the woman huddled alone. But she soon takes off running in the opposite direction, and my new friend and I turn toward the new sound. It’s really nice of him to keep pace with me since my shoe is still flopping around. I ought to take it off and be done with it.

“Hey, weren’t we going to the hospital?” he asks me.

“Oh, yeah. But we should check out that scream… you know, maybe we can help.”

“You were just in a car accident, dude.”

I was, wasn’t I? I don’t remember so much now. Damn. I hope I don’t lose my memory. Maybe I knocked my head on the window.

“Hey!” I call out.

The officer has his back to us, gun out, and pointed at another fellow kneeling beside another who lies prone. The cop calls out commands, but it seems no one is listening to him. I peer around, trying to see. There’s a man, and he's kneeling, his hands checking the pockets of the one lying on the ground.

“He’s robbing him!” I exclaim.

The officer screams a command, and the Kneeling Man turns to look over his shoulder. I want to recoil, but I keep walking forward. The Kneeling Man has drool—oh, coffee—all over his mouth and chin. Still, you could wipe your face, man.

“Just leave me alone,” the Kneeling Man tells the officer.

“Sir! Stop what you’re doing and put your hands behind your head!”

The Kneeling Man spies my friend and me. His eyes widen at us for a moment. Then he tries to get to his feet. He sure is clumsy.

“Hey!” I call out. I bump shoulders with my friend.

The officer jerks in surprise, looking over his shoulder at us and then back to the one in front. He then adjusts his position to see us all.

“What?” the Kneeling Man asks.

“What are you doing? What did that man do to you? Are you robbing him?” I look at the one lying prone on the ground. Why would you wear clothes with gaping holes?

“Stop! All of you!” the cop shouts at us.

He backs up as he holds the gun out, but the Kneeling Man keeps walking toward him. The cop fires at the Kneeling Man, who jerks and yells but keeps walking, dragging his foot. The cop fires off a few more rounds. The noise is so loud, and it echoes off the buildings. My friend and I walk toward the cop, to explain about my accident. Soon, the cop takes steps backward, says something about this not being in the job description, and takes off.

“Now, you’ve done it,” the Kneeling Man says. “He’s going to go bring his friends.”

The man lying on the ground twitches.

“Hey, you saved him,” I say.

The Kneeling Man turns around. “Yeah. Just doing my civic duty and all that shit.”

The Lying Down Man gets up, and half his guts spill out.

“Dude,” I chuckle.

“Oh, hell.” He walks right into the Kneeling Man and knocks him to the side but not over. “Now look what you’ve done.”

“Sorry, man.”

We hear gunshots throughout the town.

“We should go help,” I say.

“Yeah,” they all echo.

We turn as one and amble down the sidewalk.

“Hey,” my new friend bumps my shoulder. “You hungry? Because I’m getting powerfully hungry.”

“Oh, the hunger is the worst,” the Kneeling Man says. “It’s like you can never get full, even if your belly can’t hold anymore.”

“Speak for yourself,” the Lying Down Man grumbles.

We all laugh, noting his intestines drag beside him. One of us steps on it, and it yanks out of his body. He doesn’t even respond and keeps walking. We shuffle down the sidewalk, listening to more screams and gunshots. We keep moving, intent on helping. I glance at my new friends, thankful I’ve found them because it seems like ever since my car accident, things have deteriorated in this world. I mean, I just needed help, and people were running from me. My new friends didn’t run, and even now, they still help me.

I still need to get to the hospital, but whenever we hear a gunshot or a scream, we head to the noise. And it seems like other caring individuals join us… shuffling along… muttering to one another…

Intent on helping others.

-The Accident, A Short Story, by Author, T.L. Humphrey

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