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Fragments of a Broken Life


Not The Beginning, But This Is Where It Starts

Cars and trucks and the occasional motorcycle for as far as Niemand's eye could see. Nothing but static on the radio, despite the fact he was on a major Dallas highway. He heard a snippet of a song. Power Tools by Planet P. He loved that song, but he wondered what station would play that old, obscure song. The air conditioning went out, which it tended to do lately, and was not optimal considering the oppressive Texas heat. Niemand would not get it fixed, though, as his sea green Camaro was sixteen years old with more than two hundred thousand miles on it. The engine was getting hotter as well. Niemand, feeling more than a little claustrophobic and fearing his car might overheat, looked for a way out.

He saw a dirt path to his right. It looked big enough, and safe enough, for a car to drive on it. Why was no one else on it, though? Maybe it didn't go where anyone wanted to go? Niemand didn't care, he had to get to get his car going again to hopefully cool it down. Somehow he managed to cut across two lanes of traffic quickly and got onto the path.

Niemand pushed the accelerator down hard and was soon going faster than he had ever gone before. He looked at the speedometer. Oh yeah, it was broken also. For no good reason, he looked at the meter for a long time, perhaps trying to WILL it to work. When he looked up he saw it. And instantly knew there was nothing at all he could do about it.

How's Patient Zero doing? Is he awake? Did he ever wake up? WILL he ever wake up? Will I? Will anybody?

A massive wall of water rushed toward Niemand. Niemand looked for a way out, even knowing as he did it that there couldn't possibly be any way out. The water enveloped the car and swiftly carried it away. Niemand wondered where the water was taking him and more importantly, when the water would start coming in. It was nothing short of miraculous the windows hadn't broken when the water hit the car. The only sound was the roar of the water. He could see nothing at all. He felt dizzy. Really dizzy. He passed out.

Ladies! Here's a subtle hint the guy you're with now may not be 'the one'. He makes fun of the kids on the St. Jude and Shriner's Hospital commercials.

He opened his eyes. It was night time now. He stood up and looked around. He saw a DART rail station. On one of the tracks he saw what remained of his car: just a thoroughly rusted frame. Niemand entered the small building where one could buy tickets or wait for the train. There just happened to be a small auto insurance office there also.

Although a different company (Raven) than the one he used (General), Niemand decided to ask the agent if he would be covered for this...catastrophe that had befallen him. He and the agent walked outside to see the car. It was no longer there. "From what you've told me, your insurance should cover it. Less deductible, of course. But don't be fooled. People like me sell a product and we call it insurance, but there's really no such thing." The agent turned to face Niemand, grabbed his t-shirt and repeated, "There is NO. SUCH. THING. AS. INSURANCE." The agent let go of the shirt and hurried back to his office.

Despite having no idea where he was--except for somewhere along the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system--Niemand started to walk home. Why is it so dark?, Niemand asked himself. Did my accident knock out the power or something? As he walked along the jagged sidewalk--which led him to believe he may be in an area like Pleasant Grove or South Oak Cliff--he became aware of two men talking behind him. The voices were getting louder. And closer. Much too close for comfort.

While Mrs. Kenney was out of the class, a boy loudly uttered a cuss word. And not just any cuss word, but the worst one Niemand had ever heard, and had never heard before. The one that rhymes with duck! Niemand knew what he had to do. He was not usually a tattler, but this...THIS...was...what was that phrase his dad always said? oh, yeah...'beyond the pale'. Niemand heard the familiar clatter of Mrs. Kenney's shoes. As soon as she came through the door, he blurted out, "Paul said a dirty word when you were gone! The one that rhymes with duck!' Mrs. Kenney kept walking to her desk, and sat down. Niemand repeated his accusation, not quite so loudly this time. Mrs. Kenney gave Niemand a blistering look and said, "No, he didn't. YOU DID!" Stunned, Niemand could not say anything. None of his classmates said anything either. Without realizing it, Niemand learned one of the biggest lessons of his life that day.

"I can take him out. Easy," a gruff voice snarled.

"We don't have to do anything. Just put a scare into him," a much more refined and cultured voice replied.

Niemand walked faster.

"Look at him. Thinks he can get away," the gruff voice commented.

"He won't get away. He CAN'T get away. This is the first time he's been in this neighborhood," said his partner.

"I still say we get him and have some fun."

"if you do that, there will be no fun for anyone. Don't you realize who that is?"

"Of course I know who it is. it's that guy we're going to rob."

"That's where you're wrong. That guy, as you call him, is very close to you and me. VERY close."

"I know, we can can almost grab him now."

"That's not what I meant, moron. He's much closer to you and I than you could ever imagine."

© 2019 Gary Newsom

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