I was holding my daughter’s hand, waiting for the traffic lights to cycle, at the corner of Second Avenue and Union Street, downtown. It was a clear and all to sunny day, the reflecting light from the store windows making me squint and wish I was enough of a jerk to not have given my sunglasses to the little darling when she asked for them; still sacrifice is the cornerstone of good parenting, so I’m led to believe, and she looks more adorable than me in them. Accepting my fate I lifted my free hand to my forehead to shield my vision as I impatiently scanned east and west along Union. There was a break in the traffic and I was debating to myself whether or not to continue being a good example or just cross the damned street, walk signal be damned. The rest seemed happen all at once.
A bicycle, complete with helmeted rider jumped the stop light and flew into the section. From my blind spot I heard the sharp blaring horn and I snapped around, instinctively and most likely futilely attempting to yank my child away from the side of the road as I did so. A pick up, wheels screaming through the intersection the burning of it’s brake pads filling the streets with the aroma of death, or something close to it. It was a dualie, an F350 extend cab, Wedgwood blue; covered with dents and scratches, like hash marks, tallying up its previous victims automotive and pedestrian alike. Today it was out for blood and claimed one more. My sunglasses clattered onto the sidewalk as I pulled her face into my stomach, trying to prevent her from seeing his inevitable doom.
A dull thunk, barely audible over the behemoth’s horn and skidding tires, was almost anticlimactic; or would have been if the cyclist, his red and black jersey pegging him as a deliver of sandwiches, had not flown up off the seat of his fixie and rotated ninety degrees; then, as if in a tribute to Gregg Louganis, folded in half, spun backwards before hitting his head on the hood of the truck before sliding sideways to bounce from the bumper to the pavement. With the last of his momentum his body rolled onto his back, moaning, his helmet cracked and scratched the plastic falling away along the rear right side where he made impact with both vehicle and street, exposing the gray foam padding beneath.
The F350 veered left, skidded and came to a halt, and by some small miracle managed to avoid crushing the prone cyclist; thought I have doubts as to the fate of his bike, or the sandwiches. The door of the truck creaked open and a large woman with the type of build you get from dealing with livestock on a daily basis, half fell out of the driver seat. She was hanging onto the steering wheel with one hand to steady herself while the other clutched the cellphone, from its speaker could be heard another woman’s panicked voice, “Louise? Louise, y’all alright? Answer me girl.” Louise was too dumbfounded to answer, she just stared at the glowing screen on the device and making a slightly inquisitive whimpering noise. Her temple and the driver’s side window both had small smears of blood, the one on the side of her head getting slowly larger as the seconds ticked on.
It being middle of downtown, and lunch hour, there was no shortage of gawkers and rubberneckers gathering around for a good ogle at the carnage. A few of them, not clutching a six-year-old protectively while she tried to peek at what was happening, pulled out their phones; some of them even called 9-1-1 instead of instagraming the event. A few onlookers with quicker brains came to the apparent aid of the fallen bicyclist. “Don’t try to move man, don’t move.” chanted one dreadlocked African american youth, as he stood over the man. One budding paramedic was waving his hands in front of Louise’s face. “How many fingers am I holding up lady?” he kept asking of the stunned woman.
Soon the intersection was a tangle of emergency vehicles as, thankfully, the police arrived. Statements were taken, which confirmed the fact that none of the witnesses had seen the same accident happen and soon my daughter and I were on my way home. We walked a short distance to a bus stop where I sat down shakily. As I tried to steady myself to phone my wife and tell her what happened my daughter hugged me and asked, “Is the man dead?”
“No honey, they took the man to the hospital.”
“Is he going to die.”
“I don’t know Kate.” I replied still rattled
“He’s probably going to die.” She stated calmly, her eyes clear and innocent. She reached out and handed me my now extremely scratched sunglasses.
Sometimes kids are kind of creepy.