The red Audi S5 took the curve too quickly, spun its rubber and flipped into the ditch. Leighton slowed his gray Subaru Impreza to the shoulder and leaped out.
Only a week ago, he had signed the papers to make the divorce final. He had felt so bad about it and almost returned to a drinking habit he had cured long ago, but thus far, he had only bought a bottle of Maker's Mark without indulging. All of that at this point seemed so pointless. After all lots of people have it rough- much rougher than him- just like the poor driver of the Audi.
He ran the twenty feet to the vehicle, but slowed his pace when he reached it. Already he could smell gasoline.
Removing his gray sport coat, he eased down into the dead grass to check out the condition. He peered inside to discover only see a driver with no passengers. That was a good sign- as far as potential casualties.
“Hello there? You awake?”
He thought he might have heard a mumbling from the driver although he could not be sure what. He repeated his attempt at communication but only received a few more mumbles in return.
He walked around to the side of the Audi to the driver's side door. As he did so, he noticed the tags were only temporary. This ride was brand new and already beat to hell. He leaned down to try and reach the driver, but there was no use. A large oak stood next to the door which prevented opening since the doors opened upward but the tree also caused a bit of a tilt which made entry to the passenger side door a possibility. And then the spark came.
He could not be certain he actually saw a spark near the gas tank, but something bright found his vision. It would not be long now before the Audi blew.
As he scrambled around to the passenger side, he yelled again. Now there wasn't even mumbling. He yanked the passenger side door handle.
Leighton hammered on the window with his palms. Inside he could see the driver was a female with short blonde hair, but he could not make out the face. Probably some dumb high school student with a dad with too much money who bought her a car she was not ready to handle. He shook his head as he banged away.
“Miss! Wake up! You have to unlock the door!”
She was not moving. He could not see any blood, but she could be out. He banged away for a moment, but decided he had to abandon this. She was out and maybe dead. But he had to try and...
“Yes! Unlock your door! Over here!”
The driver's titled her head. The setting dusk prevented Leighton from catching any telling look of the face or eyes. He hammered the passenger side window and the windshield while the driver eased about like a tired slug. No matter how hard he banged, she got in no hurry.
God, this was so familiar. He tried to get his ex-wife to do so many things while they were married, but she put off everything- paying bills, renewing licenses, buying groceries. Yet he had dragged his feet with the divorce. She jumped at it with spring heels.
He could not think of that now. He had to save this poor driver's life. She was in a bad place. A lot of people had it bad- much worse than Leighton.
She inched her way to the passenger side, but still only mumbled. Maybe her jaw was broken. Leighton stopped banging the windows and urged her on with his voice.
“That's it...keep going...you can do it...”
Finally, she made it to the passenger side door. She stopped.
“No! No! You have to flip the unlock switch. You have to unlock the door!”
His heart boomed inside his ears. He banged on the windows until his palms were beating with his heart. The windshield turned red. The woman's head came up. She reached over.
“That's it! Do it!”
She fumbled with the button.
Leighton tossed the door open, reached in and pulled the woman free. He stood and dragged her away from the wreckage ten feet away. After closing his eyes in relief, he peered down at the driver's face.
With little life in her eyes, she sighed.
Luckily, Leighton got his ex-wife an ambulance. She recovered in no time from her broken clavicle and concussion and had that wrecked Audi S5 replaced with another on Leighton's dime. The last he heard, she had a child with some man, but saw no reason to get married again.
As bad as he wanted to hate her, he told himself he should not. His problems weren't so bad. As he cracked open that bottle of Maker's Mark and took a long pull, he decided that he was lucky for the most part. After all, some people really have it bad.
Anthony David Mitchell is currently working on his third book along with other shorter projects as well. He lives in Jackson, TN on the wrong side of the tracks.