The Abrupt Stop

Philip’s head abruptly compressed back into his headrest. The sound of crunching metal and breaking fiberglass echoed in his ears. The world around him slowed down. He could see the driver’s side window slowly shatter, and he closed his eyes as the shards of glass pressed against the left side of his face. An airbag to the right smacked him in the head, and the airbag in the steering wheel exploded before him. His arms flung off the steering wheel and a pillow of air caught his head as his body lurched forward.

Everything was black, and then there was the voice of a woman screaming. Light began to fill Philip’s eyesight, and he started to look around to see what had happened. He looked up into his review mirror to find the grill of a Honda SUV sitting where the back seat of his Ford Fiesta used to be. The words of the screaming woman slowly entered his mind.

“What are you thinking! Look what you made me do! Why would you stop like that!?”

Philip could hear the faint cry of sirens. In front, his car’s bumper rested against the back of a Suburban. An older woman was walking up from its direction. She put her head in between the hysterical driver and Philip.

“Are you okay sir? I was watching in my review mirror and she never even slowed down.”

Philip tried to move his arms. They responded, but pain shot through the trunk of his body. Philip moaned and then attempted to answer, “I think so. I’m really sore.”

“Your face is bleeding.”

Philip reached up to the side of his face and held his palm in front of himself. Blood painted his palm.

“My name is Kim,” said the middle-aged woman.

“I’m Philip,” he responded in short breaths.

The upset woman pushed her shoulder between the two and exclaimed, “What are you two conspiring? It’s all your fault. If you hadn’t stopped, I wouldn’t have hit you. Don’t try to blame this on me.”

Philip could hear sirens closing quickly from a distance. He unbuckled his seatbelt and pain through his chest. For a moment he felt as though he could not breathe. Turning his body towards the worst pain allowed the air to return to his system.

“Maybe I’ll just sit here until help arrives,” he said to both women.

A police car pulled into the intersection to block traffic away from the accident. A young police officer got out and walked deliberately towards the three accident victims. Before he could complete the five yards to the cars, a fire truck rolled up. The upset young woman turned and addressed the officer.

“Officer, I want these two arrested. They purposely stopped in the road so that I would hit this car. It’s all a setup.”

“Please step to the side ma’am. I need to examine the driver.”

“Why? He’s faking it.”

“Please move out of the way, or I’ll place you in handcuffs and put you in the back of my car for impeding an officer.”

The woman stopped talking and abruptly walked to the curb.

The policeman asked, “Are you able to get out of the car?”

“Philip shook his head. When I try to move the pain is so bad I can’t breathe.”

A fireman walked up, and the officer addressed him, “I think this guy has some broken ribs. He has a lot of pain and can’t breathe when he tries to move.”

The fireman looked down at Philip, “Folks call me Dan. Don’t worry; we’ll have you out of here and feeling better in no time.”

Dan attempted to get Philip’s door open, but it was stuck. “Get me a crowbar!” yelled Dan to someone out of Philips line of sight. Philip could hear an ambulance arriving on the scene, and then the screaming of sheet metal as the door gave way to the crowbar and the two firemen.

Somewhere nearby Philip could still hear the irate woman yelling. A second voice joined her’s. That of the policeman trying to calm her down. “It’s a scam! I’m telling you that you need to arrest those two.”

There was more mumbling and yelling, but Philip was distracted by the EMTs that had arrived. They took his vital signs, started an I.V. and administered pain medication. Although the pain shot past the medicine, Philip was able to continue breathing as they gently pulled him from the car and on to a backboard. They then lifted him onto a gurney and finished strapping him in.

“You can’t arrest me! I’ve done nothing wrong!” screamed the woman.

Philip turned to his left to see the angry young driver escorted away in handcuffs.

“Ma’am, look at this wreck you caused. Look at that man on the gurney. You rear-ended him. This accident is your fault.”

The woman began to sob and attempted to speak, “But it isn’t, why can’t you see that?”

“Let’s head down to the hospital and get your blood drawn for drugs, and then we can talk more about it.”

The woman sobbed louder as she walked out of Philips sight.

Kim walked up to the gurney and asked the EMT,  “May I speak with Philip alone for a moment?”

“Sure.” The EMT walked over to help his partner finish putting away their gear before they left.

“Are you insane?” Philip asked. “You almost got me killed. Slamming on your brakes at a green light in a fifty-five mile per hour zone in the middle of nowhere. We want the insurance money, not the pearly gates.”

Kim smiled and patted his arm, “Just take it easy. We’re going to have a big payday with this one. We’ll go after her for pain and suffering and anything else we can come up with.”

“We better, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this anymore.”

Kim smiled, “That’s okay honey. You’ll forget all about it when you get out of the hospital, and we’re down in the Bahamas.”



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