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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Running to Stand Still, Part 2

            Oliver drove his blue ‘13 Ford F-150 down Menlo Boulevard. The speed limit was 25 MPH but he was going 40 until he came up to a green ’98 Dodge that was doing 20 at the corner of Prospect.
He punched his steering wheel. “Come on,” he shouted. “I ain’t getting any younger back here.”
The Dodge stopped at a stop sign at the Maryland intersection. It didn’t move.
Oliver punched his horn twice. “What the hell?” He hit the horn and held it for five more seconds. He considered driving around the Dodge, but a raised median prevented him. He hit the horn one more time, but when there was no movement he got out of his truck and walked up to the Dodge.
The tinting on the window of the Dodge made it nearly impossible to see into the truck, but there was a figure that seemed to be shuddering behind the tint. Oliver slowly reached up and pulled the latch on the truck door.
When the door opened, there was an old lady in her 70’s in the driver seat; her left hand on the steering wheel and her right armed gripping a man of the same age in the passenger seat. Her gray bangs covered her eyes, matted to her cheeks by the tears that dripped off her chin on to her blouse.
“Je ne,” she said. “Je ne suis...” She was stuttering through heavy sobs.
“I’m sorry,” Oliver said, “I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know,” she said. She spoke with a thick French accent. She burst into sobs. “He’s dead.”
“Do you have a...”
“The clinic...” She was almost inaudible through the sobs. “Chest pains.”
“Do you have a phone?” Oliver asked.
She shook her head.
Oliver started to move away. The woman grabbed his arm with her left hand.
“I’ll be right back, I promise.”
She released her grip, but didn’t move her hand. Slowly Oliver moved away from her hand. He ran back to his truck and pulled his cell phone from the passenger side of his Ford. He dialed 911. The operator came on the line. Before they could finish their opening sentence Oliver said, “I think someone’s had a heart attack, we’re at the corner of Maryland and Menlo.” Without turning off his phone, he threw it back into the truck and ran back to the Dodge. The woman was still sobbing. Oliver placed his hand on her shoulder and knelt down next to the truck. “Help is on the way,” he told her.
Quarante-sept ans...” She shook her head through sobs. “Forty-seven years we have been together. I don’t know how to be alone.”
Oliver rubbed her shoulder as he looked down at the road beneath him.
“Don’t leave me, please,” she said.

Oliver looked up at her. “I promise I won’t leave you. You’re not alone.” The woman placed her right hand on the hand that rubbed her shoulder as the sound of sirens came up Maryland Avenue.

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