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Story by Patricia Parkinson (Read author interview) March 15, 2008

She chokes until spasms overtake her, threatening to deprive her of oxygen. 911 is called. She is taken by ambulance.

En route to the ER, Steve, the paramedic, who believes emergency vehicles are indestructible, is in the middle of a cell phone fight with Suzanne, his girlfriend. Suzanne did in fact sleep with Steve’s partner, who called in sick, and is on the verge of telling Steve it’s over and end it with this loser—now!—when Steve is t-boned by a transport truck-carrying knock off Wiis. Spelled, Wee.

Vandalism occurs.

Steve is pronounced dead at the scene.

“He didn’t feel a thing,” the coroner said. Steve’s left arm was severed.

A lone man seen by some, but not all, of the witnesses, made a successful rescue of the driver of the transport truck.

“The driver climbed out on his own,” the skeptics say.

“How could he climb out?” the believers question. “He was trapped. Unconscious.”

A home video taken by a neighbor, focusing on Steve’s arm, which becomes a top view on YouTube, cannot refute or substantiate either claim. A foggy mist is seen crossing the black cab. It’s difficult to tell if the driver lifted his girth, an estimated two hundred and seventy pounds, corroborated by all, from behind the wheel or if a celestial being pulled him out.

Sergei, the driver of the truck, is new to the country from Cheznya. He remembers no man and is driving on expired plates. He was last seen walking away.

Solange Gagne, Chopper Five News anchor, is the first reporter to arrive at the scene of the accident.

“Solange Gagne here from Chopper Five News, reporting live at the scene of what has now been officially declared a fatality on the Number 7 West involving an ambulance and a semi carrying contraband Wiis. The ambulance attendant, a young man whose name has not being released, was pronounced dead at the scene.”

The camera crew zooms in on the ambulance. It’s crushed on one side.

“The person on everyone’ s mind and in everyone’s prayers is the patient in the ambulance. 911 reports that the ambulance was carrying a female from the Central area. It is yet unknown if she survived. We now wait,” Solange says, and looks at the ground.

Onlookers carry candles and bring silk flower arrangements they keep on hand for moments like this. They’ve been petitioning city council for years to get a light at this intersection. Three more people will die before it happens.

Sparks fly from the rear of the ambulance as workers use welders to make an opening into the wreck. There is a pop, a ting, the opening of a can. There is a yawning of steel and there is silence as the stretcher is lifted out.

Solange approaches the ambulance, camera crew on her heels. Movement is seen from the stretcher.

The woman is alive!

The crowd cheers. Mother’s hug their babies. Men wrap arms around their families—teenagers high five and hoot. Cell phones are opened and raised into the night sky. A man standing on his front porch waves his hand through the air and goes back inside.

The woman is unbelted from the stretcher and sits up. Her face is pale above her stylish black turtleneck. She is happy that she turned her head before throwing up.

Solange beams, tears come to her eyes. “Many tragedies and many miracles here this evening,” she says, to the viewing audience at home. I will make something of this story, she thinks. I have an exclusive!

She slowly lowers herself onto the corner of the stretcher. Leaning toward the woman, holding the microphone in what she feels is a respectable distance away she begins her interview with The Survivor of The Number 7.

“I know I speak for all of us when I say that we have witnessed a miracle. Here you are, a woman in distress on your way to the hospital, sitting with us now, without so much as a scratch. Do you remember anything before the crash?” Solange asks. She takes the woman’s hand. It’s an intimate moment used as a teaser between commercials.

The woman remembers a caving of metal that came quick, knocking over the stretcher, sending it and her to the floor where she banged her head and dislodged the fish bone that came this close to puncturing her windpipe.

She remembers terror. A thundering noise, brakes squealing and a voice, a man’s voice, that came right before.

“You are such a slut!”

Lying on her back looking out. The winter sunset—dark, muted and shallow—the bare branches of trees on a violet mat through a moving frame. Hyperventilating. Going in and out. Driving with sirens. The cold night air—rolling stars—an oxygen mask. My children. My children.

She remembers Paul, her husband, the way he laughed with their guests and poured the wine and missed her glass without missing a beat, how he looked, not at her, never at her, when he served the grilled halibut.

“We were having a lovely dinner,” the woman says, and smiles into the camera.

About the Author

Patricia Parkinson is the single mother of two children who make her laugh at herself and other things she once took too seriously. Her work has appeared in Words Writers Journal, The Vancouver Province and is upcoming in the Gator Springs Gazette.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty

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