It all happened on the last bit of 56, before the road became Pleasant Street / Route 56.
In the grass dividing the road from the Deer Pond Auto Repair Shop’s empty parking lot, a woman stood. Her dark brown hair wasn’t pulled back and tucked up under her helmet as it was twenty minutes ago. An hour ago? A life time ago? The known lines and patterns of her reality blasted into jagged lances that caught at her, gutted her every time she tried to grasp for anything familiar. So she stood, unmoving, electing numbness.
Hair strayed along her somehow unbent shoulders and over the thick of her leather riding jacket. A helmet lay at her feet, dropped from hands without the capacity to hold onto anything any longer. Signs of shock hovered about her; it crouched in the angle of her neck. From that inclination her tears could find the easiest way to the cement all frost heaved and cracked open before her. Was she crying? She could hardly tell.
On the other side of the road, police cordoned off the site; though there wasn’t much need.
A few guys from the fire department had come to the call; maybe they were there in case of an explosion. The first responders hung around for god only knows why. An official, large van with no windows parked nearby as. All these things were just slow moving shapes and blotches of colors in her vision. That reiterated the reason for feeling like a helium filled balloon attached a hamster wheel in furious motion.
She had been riding right behind him on her bike. She noticed what looked like a wobble, like the tires hit some unfamiliar substance in the road. Then in a sliver of a second, the rider was launched into the woods. Such a strange kind of shape for a bird in flight. And the bike was grinding rider-less, sideways along the guardrail. It was a vivid mash of confounded clarity.
She came full stop beyond the spilled bike. From pure habit alone she kicked out the stand to situate her own bike, and bolted back to the scene.
Scene. As if the caution tape was already in place!
She ran past the fallen motorcycle, barely looking at it. Her adrenaline thundered through her perceptions of the outside world. She sought after a familiar pair of jeans or sign of a jacket adorned with irreverent patches in the bushes. Darting eyes locked on to a jumble in the plants and she began shouting. There was no response. She yelped again. There was no response. Was she shouting loud enough? Could she shout loud enough?
A hollow feeling came over her and was almost more than she could bear. To fight it back she hopped over the rail and essentially fell toward the body. She could tell instantly there was everything wrong with it. It was not so much a matter of gore; there was no blood, no brains or guts burst out everywhere. But there was something subtle and more frightening. It was how the head was turned just so. Even with all the gear on, his head was turned just so. And there was a certain enervation to the whole shape.
She may have blacked out, but she did not fall down. Trembling she turned and launched herself onto the pavement, fumbled pockets for her cellphone. Fingers managed to hit the three necessary buttons.
Frustrated at it’s existence, she tore off her helmet before someone picked up on the other end of the line. With the phone to her ear just in time, she managed words.
There has been an accident- M-motorcycle accident — Yes. — No.
I’m out on 56 — near the storage place and the auto shop — Yeah.
Jamie is, uh, laying there- he’s dead, he’s dead.
I’m sure of it.
Her voice was flat as she spoke, almost calm. A cracked calm. She became quiet after giving the particulars that she could. Then she listened to this small voice coming out of this small phone saying untranslated words to her until the EMTs arrived.
Then she started noticing all the gaps in her memory.
She had no certain memory of checking for a pulse, of moving the body to a supine position- something more comfortable looking. No certain memory of thanking the small voice, hanging up and putting the phone back in her pocket.
She was angry with herself then and more terrified. She was the only witness and she could not even remember her own actions from a moment ago. What if she missed a crucial detail?
After assessing that she did not need any immediate assistance, the EMTs shooed her away curtly so they could work. She was in their way some how. She did not understand how they kept brushing passed her. It was the police that lead her across the street and a little distance away from the accident to get her statements and question her.
When did these people come? Did they all really get here so fast or had a month gone by?
She focused on the pads, pens, and pale hands of the officers before her. She tried not to see the stretcher carried out empty, come back loaded with a body. She tried not to see that body placed into a windowless vehicle.
Her hands gripped the edges of her helmet as if squeezing it would help the acuity of her recall. She was doubting everything in her memory. The vivid kaleidoscopic scenes might not even be real, but she told them all she could. The officers did not prolong taking her statement. They did not repeat questions. Or did they?
One officer did make it a point to clearly confirm that James Zeleznik was dead.
The death had been instantaneous.
After asking if it was OK to let her alone for a few moments, they went back to their vehicles to continue with their procedures. She did not have a shock blanket to pull about her. She could not even sit down.
So she was standing on the roadside on, a Sunday afternoon. Cars began to whizz passed. Maybe they had been passing by the whole time. The would-be gawkers barely slowed down to see just how shattered reality had become on this part of the road; so near to Pleasant Street.
Jamie was on his bike when ever he got the chance. He loved riding. He had been a club member for years. Jamie. They were both responsible riders, she had insisted. He knew how to care for his bike. He had not been drinking. He should have been able to take the curve.