Inspired by a true story
It took Jimmy days—seven days, to be exact—to muster enough courage to ask her out. He had been waiting for a sign of the Universe, a hint from Judith that would suggest she was at least curious about him. They were in the same English class last semester, but he had never paid attention to her. Just another girl at school. He had smiled absently at her when she entered the restaurant as he was coming out to deliver three pizzas. They stumbled into each other three times before being able to make their way through the door. A scent of vanilla followed her.
Two days later, she was serving the tables, Jimmy’s uncle had hired her. While he waited for an order, he watched her move from table to table and liked how Judith made her customers feel comfortable just by smiling at them. Her fresh laughter hovered above the sounds from the kitchen.
At the end of the fifth night, when Jimmy punched the clock, he caught Judith talking to the cook. “Stupid Stephen,” giggled unmanly, his shoulders shaking, tears streaming from his half-closed eyes, at something Judith said. Jimmy had considered waiting for Judith to finish her shift and offer her a ride, but he wasn’t sure anymore. He hesitated for a moment, then left, slamming the door on his way out.
Yesterday they found themselves at the same time, in the same row of books, in the municipal library, to borrow the same book. His common sense reminded him that the book was in the summer reading list, his heart told him it was the sign he was waiting for. He couldn’t come up with something smart to say so he asked her when she was working. His nerves got the better of him, and he dropped the book. He crouched to retrieve it and as he stood up, his head caught in Judith’s skirt. Fortunately, she wasn’t offended and burst out laughing. Which earned them stern looks from the librarian. With a pounding heart and sweaty hands, he stammered out an offer to go to the movies next Thursday night. She accepted.
Luckily, they were only working one shift together before the date, cause Jimmy was struggling to keep it cool around her. Tuesday afternoon, he had an appointment with the barber to refresh his haircut. After mowing the lawn, as his mother had asked him to, he showered then got on his moped.
The woman was walking down her driveway to pick up the mail when she heard a terrible crash. It was the third accident this year that occurred in that dreadful curve, nicknamed the Killer curve by locals. When she saw glass flying towards the ditch in front of her house, she knew it was bad. The sound of metal screeching on the tarmac pierced her eardrums and the smell of burning rubber tickled her nostrils.
Jimmy Weber was coming up with a list of subjects to discuss with Judith during their never-to-be date when the cab hit him hard. Mr. Crosby, sitting in the back seat of the taxi, had just closed his eyes; the flight from New York hadn’t been a pleasant one. The shock startled him, the lifeless body on the side of the road made him nauseous. In the newspapers of Wednesday, July 25, 1984, we learned that the young man would have celebrated his 18th birthday five days later.
There’s a tiredness that can be fixed with a good night’s sleep, and there’s another that needs a lot more. Being so tired wears out your sanity, and exhaustion becomes an ingrained part of an existence that isn’t lived, but survived, endured. Patrick wondered for the tenth time this month, why he had decided to take two classes this summer. I wasn’t born for this and neither were you, the man thought. He was looking out the living room window as his wife extricated herself from the car, looking even more tired than him, if that was possible. When will we make time to dance, play, laugh, when will we enjoy long evenings of carefree chatter? We need family time, vacation and good times. And to sleep, we need to sleep too.
He slurped the last sip of coffee, brought his mug into the kitchen and was putting it in the dishwasher when Suzie entered the room. He kissed her on the forehead.
—The little one has just fallen asleep for his afternoon nap. You should lie down too, you look awfully tired.
The young woman leaned on her husband for a moment, nodded, then walked silently to their bedroom. Patrick spent another hour studying before showering. Leaning against the doorframe, he smiled sadly at the sight of his sleeping wife, still fully dressed. He had to stop at the bank to pay the utility bill, go to the hardware store to buy a dryer duct, then get to work.
That day he was assigned to the airport which suited him. Bigger tips and no runs that required him to carry groceries bags. When his third customer got into his vehicle and gave him the address he wanted to go to, Patrick’s heart skipped a beat. He didn’t like driving on Route 432. His gaze wandered to the rearview mirror, to the man's face behind him.
Patrick’s feet tingled. He squeezed the steering wheel, his hands wrapped so tightly around it, his fingernails dug into his palms. All at once, he remembered who the man was. His brain fogged up, all coherent thoughts gone. Like mental anesthesia, anything to numb the pain, to erase the trauma. Moans escaped him as his chest tightened, bile rising in his throat.
The postman had just dropped the mail in the mailbox when he heard a terrible crash. It was the fourth this year that occurred in this dreadful curve nicknamed the Killer Curve by locals. When he saw glass flying towards the ditch, he knew it was awful. The sound of metal screeching on the tarmac pierced his eardrums and the smell of burning rubber tickled his nostrils.
Kevin Weber was riding his late brother's moped to the interview, which would never take place, for a summer job at the amusement park. Patrick Davidson, lost in his brain fog, never saw it coming. In the newspapers of Wednesday, June 26, 1985, we learned that the young man would have celebrated his 18th birthday five days later. Mr. Crosby threw up on the bench when he glanced at the bloodied body.