I can’t believe the bump made it unravel… It’s like the wires crossed and broke.
“Ali! Thank God you’re home. Are you okay?” she said on the phone. I picked up on the first ring because I was afraid I was in trouble, and because I was worried about her.
“Yeah mom. Of course.” I said, but I almost said, yes ma’am. You know, when you are in a lot of trouble and your name gets longer as your parents scold you? I felt like this was one of those moments.
“Okay, I was so worried when I tried to call you and you didn’t pick up.” Her voice softened with what sounded like relief. So, she’s not mad after all.
“I’m okay mom, really.” My tone softened too as I too began to feel relief fall over me like a warm blanket.
“Alright, stay there I’ll be back in a few. I thought maybe you had left to Arnie’s house or heaven forbid come down here near the school.” I can’t believe she is right near the worst place she could be and her voice seemed to be gaining more tension again.
There were other sounds in the background. Possibly faint screams and popping sounds. “What the hell’s going on over there?”
She sounded spooked but still trying to stay composed. “I don’t know. It’s chaos. I could only get so close with the police and all. But I hear screams and I think, gun shots.”
“Wait, what? You’re there now?” Oh God, she wasn’t close. She was right there!
“Yeah, I swung by after I went by Arnie’s and you weren’t there.” She said almost like I was child and she wanted to add the words, of course silly, where else would I be.
“Oh my God mom, no. Get out of there as fast as you can. There are some crazy people killing people over there!” This was not happening right? She’s a grown woman, she has to know how dangerous this is.
“What are you talking about? Crazy people… Oh!” she said casually. Is it possible she didn’t know what was really going on? Did she just think something like a parade was going through town. Or is she just in denial? However, the “Oh” just then worried me.
“Mom, what was that?” I asked.
“Oh, my God, I was just hit by another car. Oh jeeze, your father is going to be so pissed.” She said so casually. It’s like the bump of the other car set her mind far away from the chaos into a little safe world of her own.
“Mom, don’t worry about the car, just get out of there.” I demanded firmly.
“Honey, I’m trying. It’s crazy here, but don’t you think I should exchange insurance information with the other driver’? Oh how rude.” She said it all like a dotting old lady. She’s 40 for Christ’s sake. Pull it together. And then I heard the other engine rev and tires squeal slightly like maybe the other car had shoved her out of the way to get passed her.
“Mom?” I asked fearing she might be hurt.
“He just kept going. I can’t believe he just hit my car and kept going. I’m telling you…” she was losing it and drifting farther from the seriousness of the situation.
“Mom, forget the other car. Just get out of there!” I yelled. Why wasn’t she seeing this as serious as it was?
“Well, I’ve got your license plate number mister. Ali, get a pen and write this down so I don’t forget.” She said like a mother to a small child.
She’s losing her grip on reality and the situation. How can I reach her any more clearly? So I shouted “Mom, just go!”
“Honey, don’t raise your voice to m’… Ahh!” she didn’t even finish here sentence when she screamed.
“Mom? …Mom, what’s going on?”
“Oh my, Ali it’s crazy here. People are running into my car. I mean people… Ahh!” she screamed again.
“Mom? What’s going on?”
“Some guy… that’s blood. He’s just covered in blood… he, he. Ali! He just killed someone. He killed him on the hood of my car. Ali.” She said and I could hear the horror and fear growing in her voice.
“He’s looking at me Ali.” The way she said it made a chill run up my spine.
“Lock the doors mom!”
“Ali!” she screamed.
“Drive mom! Drive! Just go!”
She screamed again and then managed to shout “Ali! He’s on the hood! Get off! Get off! Get off! Jesus!”
The sounds that followed were not ones that any child should have to endure from their parents. The screeching tires, the multiple screams and then the horrifying crash… but even then the phone didn’t mercifully disconnect… In modern technology’s crystal clarity, I heard the gurgles and her gasping breath as she bled out. And all the while I couldn’t put the phone down. I couldn’t move as I focused harder into the phone to hear it all. I didn’t want to hear it or believe it… but, I couldn’t stop myself as I listened intently to my mother dying.
“Mom… I’m coming!”
I finally got dad strapped back onto the back of the bike. The wires are shorter now but I think it’ll hold it all together and everything will be alright… But, will they hold? Will it be alright? Or is this all more stupidity to try?
There he is, just lying there in the road, feeling nothing, but I feel everything like a raw nerve. “You should have been here for her, you know. She died alone without you. You said you loved her but she died and you didn’t even know, did you? If you were going to come back anyways, you should have been here and not gone at all. But you had some big meeting and couldn’t stay. Well wasn’t that nice for you? She died dad and you weren’t here… you left her. You left us! You left me to do this all by myself! I’m not a man yet, dad! I shouldn’t have had to do this all alone! I fucking buried mom, dad. I’m all alone and you weren’t here! You asshole! I fucking hate you! … I hate you.”
And so, now I guess I sit here in the grass with my face in tear soaked hands like some stupid child crying. I know it’s not his fault. I know this. I know he must have gone through hell and back to get home to us, worried sick. He must have died trying to save us, to save her. She was his one true love and she was dead, and he didn’t even know it as he risked his life to make it back through the military blockades to save her. And now he’s dead, and I just called him an asshole… and I think I might have kicked him a little too.
Man, I’m not okay. I bet if I had a psychologist here, they would have a field day with me.
“Sorry pop… I’m so sorry.”
So, I climbed on my bike and dried my eyes one more time, and then dug hard into the pedals of this crappy bike to drag my father home to be with mom.