It was a typically dreary Halloween evening, full of warning of a winter soon to arrive in all its wind-driven glory. Driving fast, perhaps too fast in the cold blowing rain, Martin felt things could be made right. A sickening thud and a shattered windshield brought him back from his obsessive thoughts.
“Christ!” he thought. “A deer? Not a kid—god, not a kid or a trick-or-treater.”
Life suddenly downshifted from fast forward to slow motion. The screeching of tires seemed to last forever.
Martin leaped from the car, unable to deny the reality of what he was seeing. His eyes pulled him toward the carnage and a gruesome spectacle, the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A large, bloody mass lay in a twisted, morbid position. Ribs, blown from the chest cavity and pointing toward the cold, uncaring sky while holding the torso up in a macabre fashion, met his gaze. What seemed to be a never-ending pool of gore engulfed the scene. Thick globs of meaty paste were spattered everywhere.
Martin’s shock-numbed mind told him to check for vitals, but his police training told him that would be foolish—the reaction of the sort of untrained, stupid civilians who were the butt of cop jokes. No, this spectacle that had once been a woman, a daughter, or maybe a mother, was now a bloody puddle of steaming meat and broken bones. Without even realizing it, he had stepped on a chunk of waxy yellow fat that clung to the sole of his shoe. This pile—a former living, breathing person—was giving up its warmth to the cold, indifferent night. The skull had been split in two from the force of the impact and the eyes pointed in different directions and seemed to be observing, but not comprehending.
Martin thought about the size of the impending lawsuit, but then thought of the meat scattered all over the road. Lawsuits, meat, blood. He even thought of how the blood always reminded him of gutting a deer. Thoughts were screaming through his adrenalin-fueled mind without any real direction or order.
He must have been in shock to be thinking so wildly. Christ, what next? He was brought back to the present by a woman screaming that she had called 911.
“Do you need anything else?” she called out.
“Yeah,” he thought, “I need to get away.”
It was like that airline commercial he saw while watching games on Sundays. He needed to get a long god damned way from that mess!
Martin couldn't believe fate had put his sorry ass into such a situation. Such things were supposed to happen to other sorry-ass bastards. He wasn’t a cop just doing his job and looking for clues at the scene of a 10-54 fatal traffic accident. He’d been the driver.
Jesus Christ, it was different being the driver and not just a wise-ass cop on the scene. Oh, for Christ’s sake, he had worked thousands of accidents, but never thought it would happen to him.
He found himself thinking, “Let this be some kind of dream.”
But it wasn't, and Martin, locked in a staring contest with the woman’s dying eyes, suddenly realized that he had looked into those eyes before.