After one particularly grueling night where she drank herself into a frenzy and verbally assaulted the other guests of a party that we weren’t really invited to in the first place, I had had enough. I found her sprawled across the front porch clutching an empty handle of watermelon vodka. Even as she murmured indecipherable curses and and sobbed, those passing by took no heed of her state and went to and from the party as if she weren’t even there. I put her in my car as she took turns yelling at and crying to me and stopped three times on the drive back to our house because of how close she came to vomiting all over the passenger side. Getting her into the house was no small feat; by the time I had laid her in her bed and found a bucket to lay by the bedside, she was already passed out. She suddenly heaved, startling me. It was then that the darkest thought I have ever experienced crept into my head:
If I left her on her back...
It still alarms me ever so slightly to remember just how long I let that thought sink in.
(Just so you know, I did turn her over on her side.)
The second closest time I seriously thought about killing someone was when Topher, the pre-med student that I had met off of a dating website, raised his voice and told me to GO! into a left turn on a two-way road in the middle of rush hour traffic. Apparently he didn’t see anyone coming - until mini van full of passengers t-boned my side of the vehicle.
The impact made my head snap to the right and the instantaneous panic almost made me vomit. When the car finally came to a complete stop, my hands shakily turned off the ignition. Then I screamed as loud as I could. The tears, the hysteria, the panic; it took everything I had in me to not turn and strangle every last trace of life out of the now horrified Topher. I could not, for the life of me, calm down. At the time of impact, I had four major speeding violations and an accident on my record. I felt certain that an accident of this nature would result suspension of my license as well as a hand written letter from the governor saying that I was never allowed to drive any kind of vehicle, even a scooter, for the rest of my natural life.
I screamed again.
“Don’t,” I said, swiftly.
At first, my door refused to cooperate. Adrenaline gives a person crack-head like strength, however, and I summoned all of my agony and panic and pushed a second time. With an agonizing creak, the door gave way.
The driver of the other vehicle was a full-term pregnant woman and the passengers were her four children. I saw this and fell to my knees.
“I ... am so ... sorry!” I gasped, over and over. Topher had gotten out of the car at this point and was trying to talk to the driver.
“I’m ok,” she kept saying to him, “My children are ok. Please make her calm down.”
I had barely stopped hyperventilating when Atlanta Police Department arrived on the scene.
“Ma’am,” they repeated to me, “You have to calm down. We have to ask you a few questions.”
I couldn’t. I kept looking back and forth from my seemingly totaled car and back to the pregnant driver; I was doing well to even muster an, “Mm! Mrr! Nng!”
“Jas, please calm down!” Topher said, now crying himself. Both the police officers and the driver of the other vehicle looked at the two of us in disbelief. Our mutual hysteria continued even as we pushed the car into nearest parking lot in front of a run down building that housed a palm reader and a tax preparer’s office.
“Really,” said the other driver as she pulled into the lot, “We’re fine. My car is fine. This will all be ok.”
Her husband and two more family members pulled in shortly thereafter. After making sure that his wife and children were safe, he turned to Topher and me and asked,
“Do you need a ride?”
“I live just down the street,” Topher replied, “So we’re good. But thank you.”
“It’s no problem. As long as everyone is ok, that’s all that matters to me. My kids, my heart,” he said, motioning toward his wife, “it’s all I can ask for. God watched out for us. Now we’re watching out for you.”
I am not a spiritual person, but his generosity floored me.
The police kept Topher and I on the scene long after letting the other driver go home with her family. After determining that I had not been under the influence and making sure that I knew I had gone on record as being the driver at fault, the three of us stood by my busted car and waited on the tow truck. “Get all the belongings that you care about out of the car,” suggested the officer, “Our guy’s lot is safe but you can never be too careful.”
Topher grabbed all of our belongings out of the main cabin while the officer followed me to the trunk. At first I didn’t want him peering over my shoulder because the trunk of my car plays a semi-permanent host to a variety of junk: clothes, boxes, DVD’s, random household items; all of the things I had acquired through being a student with an erratic schedule. Then the trunk popped open and he saw a full bodied, furry, grey onesie complete with a long, spiraling tail. Sitting on top of it: a home made, foam helmet with a foot long snout and pipe cleaner whiskers.
“Is that... a rat costume?” the officer asked, turning to me. I looked at the costume. I looked at the officer. I looked back to the costume.
“Yes,” I replied. Then, after an awkward pause, I added, “It’s for my senior thesis. I’m writing a show.”
“Do you... need it?”
“Then you should ... get it?” the way the officer inflected this statement as a question indicated that he wasn’t entirely sure how to react to my explanation. I reluctantly picked up the costume and held it in both hands. Cars began to honk their horns as they drove past. Someone actually rolled down their window to yell,
Embarrassed, the officer turned so that no one could see his face.
Topher followed suit, oblivious to the fact that, within a month, I would be sitting on the end of his bed as I explained that we were no longer going to be a couple. I would never say that the car accident incited the true beginning of the end. I would never regard Topher with the same disdain I had my former roommate. Honestly, he was a good guy; things just spiraled downhill after the accident.
That night, as I faced traffic and sobbed while I internally wrestled with the way I perceived the universe to be (completely over) with the way it actually was (not over), I decided to shut off for a little while.
I looked at the rat helmet and placed it on my head.
I had lost my car and possibly my license.
My sanity merely took a hiatus.
|Not actual rat head. |
Mine was worse.