I sit on the porch, enjoying the smell of honeysuckle and watching the antics of my dogs. The highway is two miles to the south. Usually, I don’t notice it, but sometimes the sound of sirens drift through the pine trees. Tonight, I can hear three separate wails, and that can’t be good. I can tell that one is an ambulance and one is a fire truck; the other has to be a police car. There must be a big wreck up toward Smith’s Station. And my next thought is how lucky I am that it’s not me—this time.
Years ago, I was in a wreck. A tractor-trailer truck, fully loaded and busting seventy-miles-per-hour, slammed into the back of my Impala, rolled over the top, and blew three of my tires like they were party balloons.
Was I hurt? No. Was I traumatized? Not really. The accident struck me like the flare of a match. Scratch-flare-poof and it was over. Nothing much left, except a little smoking rubber.
The amazing part was what happened the next day. My Grandpa, a garrulous man with tall tales and a special way with the ladies, wanted to go see my car in the junk yard. So, we piled into his antique 1956 Ford pick-up, and off we went. I was especially glum because my car was not called an Impala anymore; it was now known as, ‘the wreck.’
We stood in the hot field that was a mixture of red clay and four foot weeds, as my Grandpa studied the crumbled Impala. The sun sizzled through my shirt, but the shade was even worse. Mosquitoes attached me every time I tried to move into the square blocks of shadow cast by older wrecks.
Dumb, young, and impatient as I was; I still managed to note the wide tire prints from the tractor-trailer on the trunk of the Impala. The black treads rolled all the way into the back seat. The windows were mostly gone, and what was left of the glass looked like ragged, crystalline teeth. The whole thing looked like a dinosaur had stepped on it.
“Were you wearing a seatbelt?” Grandpa asked.
“No,” I admitted.
“Was the gas tank empty?”
“Riding on fumes,” I said.
We strolled around to the front of the twisted metal, and my Grandpa leaned into the driver’s side window, which was about two feet lower than it should be.
“Look at this,” he said and I poked my head into the car. “From the driver’s seat all the way to the front bumper, there’s nothing wrong with this car. The glass is gone, but the seat, on this side, is not bent or pushed forward. The steering wheel is fine. The roof is curved up, instead of down, on this side. Now look over at the passenger seat; it’s an accordion, completely flattened.”
“Wow,” I said, not really understanding what he was trying to tell me.
“Don’t you get it? You should be dead, but it’s like someone wrapped you—you and this quarter of the car—in a protective bubble. You’ve definitely got an angle on your shoulder.”
“God loves me,” I said, suddenly happy.
“Amen to that,” Grandpa said and readjusted his straw hat.
“Can I borrow the truck?”