It comes out of nowhere. There’s a car only twenty feet in front of me, sideways to my grill. I push the brake pedal. I don’t even realize I’m pushing until I sense it’s not stopping me fast enough. I’m so close to the car now and it’s not moving away quick enough. Is it moving at all? Or is everything slow motion during this second before impact? There’s nothing I can do. I hear the tires screech but they’re only guiding my missile directly toward the car. It’s almost here. The injury. The hassle. The insurance crap. Having no car. An emotional, angry motorist I’ve hit. I see the driver’s face, looking at me like I’m crazy for hurling my car at his. But he’s moving now, completing a u turn, a stupid u turn, and I’m mad. Take this, you mother fucker! Take this! If I cannot stop, if I cannot avoid you, then take it for all it’s worth, you idiot for luring me into your stupid world of dangerous carelessness.
It’s the unmistakable sound cars make crashing, equal amounts bass and high-pitched treble. His car takes the brunt, getting knocked off course. Mine plows through and stops. No whiplash. No smashing glass. No head to the steering wheel. Clean, precise direct hit collision. Then silence.
My longest second is over. Time for its ugly, timeless aftermath.
I drive to the shoulder, crank the parking brake, open the door and prepare to meet the consequences head on. A hysterical driver? A bloodied driver? A mess I’ll pay for for months?
Nothing. The car is gone. Just over the hill from whence I came, I hear the car speeding off. An entire plastic bumper unit sits in the middle of the road, surrounded by small debris. The guy had no insurance. That has to be it. Why stick around when he knew he’d made a huge mistake – that’s what I think.
An ugly split on my bumper, a slightly cockeyed hood, but nothing else. Like a metal missile just hit a plastic tug boat. He’s gone. I never want to see him again. I’m glad there’s no insurance claims, no police scene. Should I feel bad for saying this? I clear the road of the bumper and various parts while cars slowly pass, passengers rubbernecking to view.
For such a crash, so little damage. For one so unlucky to be the guy behind him, luckier still to walk away. What remains are surprising thoughts, the collision of thoughts that flashed through my mind so quickly, as surprising as spotting a car coming at you out of nowhere.