so, um, CRRRRAP.
Hey, I wasn’t going to mention any of it at all, but now we’ve had incident number three in about four days, so I have stories. It’s all about THE STAWRAYS.
Friday morning I was headed to work when I pulled into the nearest convenience store to fetch a shot of caffeine. I went for the cupholder-slash-console thingy where three very important things reside:
ay) my lucky nickel
bee) a mess of fortune cookie fortunes I was collecting up for an upcoming project and
cee) boodles of spare change
It was mostly empty, save for a couple of fortunes. It was then that I noticed there were a couple of fortunes in the floor of my vehicle, as well. My spare change! She is awayed! I went into the store and used my debit card to the tune of ninety-seven cents, how fucking embarrassing. Then I phoned Maxim.
“Hey,” I asked him when he picked up, “did you raid the change stash in my car this morning?”
“Funny you ask that,” he said back, “I was gonna call you and ask the same thing. My console’s been plundered.”
Hmm, I says to myself, HMMM. I then immediately went to quasi-blaming teenagers. My son was first, because he was taking a daytrip to Auburn to hang out on the campus. I don’t believe in the foolish-assedness of a child with no car and no job having a cell phone, but I do in fact believe in contacting my child via a friend or two whose parents indulge their own children’s silly little cellular whims. That’s what I did, leaving a couple of voice mails. When Sam called me back, I asked him if he’d helped himself to our change stashes. He’d never done so without asking before, but there are always firsts. I just wanted to make sure that if he’d made a blind grab, he made sure to guard diligently the gold necklace and bracelet that were in my change holder until he could return them to me. Like maybe he’d grabbed them inadvertantly, you know?
What I got was not confirmation that my son needed a bit of change; what I got was a resounding NO I DID NOT DO SUCH A THING MOTHER and GAH, MOTHER! YOU NEVER LOCK ANYTHING and I KNEW THIS SORT OF THING WOULD HAPPEN ONE DAY. Dig it, a twenty-minute lecture from my fifteen-year-old son about the hazards of today’s world and my lack of appropriate response to them. Shit.
The little kids didn’t do it; they were both in bed at an early hour the night previous and still asleep when the discoveries were made. Scout didn’t do it; she was down on Dauphin Island beaching it up with some schoolmates. That left Piper, who has never taken anything without asking and, upon inspection, had her car’s ashtray shaken down.
We live in a pretty nice neighborhood…far nicer than should allow the likes of us in, really, but it backs up on a set of projects a couple of blocks over. The folks that live there like to walk our street to get into town, as it is wide, quiet, low-trafficked and cooled by a morass of rich-folk trees. Therefore, I just assumed some kid went trolling for change and lucked up on a couple-hundred dollars’-worth of jewelry in the process. I mean, I had at least a thousand bucks in ceedees, several pair of sunglasses, my checkbook and wallet lying there exposed. Piper had her checkbook and emmpeethree player on her seat in the wide open and Maxim had his laptop and iPod and Sirius radio in full view.
I kept with the kid theory until late that afternoon, when I went for my checkbook. The register was untouched, but my checks had been pulled out then turned upside down and backwards in the leather cover. It smacked of, “Heh. I’ve been here and look what I did.” and I didn’t like the way it felt one bit. Still, lesson learned, and we will lock everything up tight from now on. We paid a very small price indeed.
For three weeks Scout has been having vague sort of dreams about car accidents and death. For three weeks I have been having dreams of Maxim in a wreck and dying as a result. About a week ago, we managed to tell one another these things; five days later I clued Maxim in.
Therefore, you can imagine my reaction when –Friday evening as I was on the phone with Maxim– I heard, “Oh God,” followed by the loud sounds of tires screaming and metal tangling. The call stayed connected, but I could hear no sounds. I was taking Mathias to watch him swim and was right in front of the gym when the call dropped. I hurried him and Lili out of the car and into the front doors, then I promptly went around teh back of the building and heaved. I’d not had a lot to eat that day because of the combination of funeral nerves (we buried Tess’ sister that day) and the heat and my own emotional fatigue. What I had consumed, however, came all the way up from my toes.
In that moment, I just knew beyond a shadow of doubt that my entire world had just turned fully inside out with me hanging on by the skins. My mind clicked through its channels, scanning, looking for some practical course of action while every hair on my body screamed. Suddenly my phone rang with a completely foreign number and here was a voice, flooding me with ‘He’s alright’ and Maxim in the background hollering for them to assure me he was okay and would be calling me shortly.
Maxim hit a guy running a red light head-on, both cars were totalled and he had busied himself with the task of assisting this man, whose car spun until it smacked a building and then puddled out of the car, injured. The building he hit happened to be a bar, and cocktail-hour menfolk came pooling out to see what Armageddon had befallen them. A nice man offered his services and he was the one that called me, the Good Lord bless his booze-swilling soul, amen.
Our car, it was only some three months old, and the story of its purchase is a funny one indeed but one I’ve not gotten around to telling you as of yet.
In short, we will likely not get enough to recoup its payoff, much less the decent downpayment we saved up for it, and much-much-less money to place on a new vehicle. There were witnesses, though, and they have already attested Maxim’s innocence in the whole matter to the relevant authorities.
I drove the hour it took to retrieve him, my friend Scottie in attendance to serve as distraction, and was thankful to the ends that he wasn’t lying, he really was okay save for some abrasions and nasty bruising and an already-swelling shoulder, head and eye.
Today, just as we were beginning to experience the frustration of a stubborn guilty party who refuses to accept responsibility, another thing occurred. I’d just broke for lunch and picked the little ones up to go shopping for school supplies when Maxim called.
Good ole steady, even Maxim. He got me on the phone and said, “Are you at the stop sign yet?” Assuming he’d forgotten to give me something, or that Scout had changed her mind and wanted to ride along, I told him I was sitting there now. He advised me to put the car in park and just sit for a minute.
In a measured tone, he informed me that Piper had just called; she’d been out with a friend, a really good kid from church. This kid, he is a gentle giant –all seven-foot-one of him– and was one of the first people to crack through Piper’s thick emotion-bearing wall when she came to be with us. He was out jobhunting today and came by to see if he could take our daughter out to lunch with him. It began to rain, and on their way home he hit a car head-on. That car hit another car, which bounced off of their already-spinning truck and sent them into a large concrete and steel pole. I am thankful for that truck, because its size in light of that woman’s rate of travel is what helped save those kids.
When I got to the accident scene, there were a couple of ambulances, the paramedic truck and four cop cars. The rain was still pouring, and there stood Piper in the middle of the five blocked off lanes, her pixie self looking all the tinier given the surroundings and props and weather. Our gentle giant was in shock, walking around asking everyone if they were okay. At first it appeared that only one person in the red car –teh driver– was injured. They were busy prying her door open and bracing her up. They eventually put her on a board and loaded her into one of the ambos. Within minutes, though, Piper was hurting and swelling, her knee and neck and shoulder pretty jacked.
I knew most of the guys working the scene; some of them were patients of mine and some have swilled a beer or two with me on occasion. They hugged my neck, gave me direction, answered my questions. When the giant’s daddy got there (he is a near-giant himself), I gathered up Piper and loaded her into the car. The startled little ones scrambled to make room for her in the Magical Superior Stealth vehicle, petting and kissing their big sister.
“Oh Piper,” Lili exclaimed, “you are not dead and we are all so LUCKY.” Mathias held her hand all the way to the doctor’s office; she lies back there doped to the gills right now until I can get her to the MRI place tomorrow.
No one can ever, ever convince me that there is not a God and He does not hold me in some sort of favor, because everything over the last handful of days could have bounced in such a horribly different direction. I’ve told you all before that I am Wretched, and I’ve told you before that I’m Blessed.
The latter exists, thankfully, far and away in spite of the former.