Saved By Zero

From our Santa Fe newsdesk:

G. and C. from work came to pick me up at the drugstore after my wreck. Fortunately G. had her camera. I was so kited I couldn’t feel my head. Details follow.

I’d beg your pardon but neither of us has one. What?

Oh, right. The accident. So, the Village itself is essentially a retirement community, especially for the sheriff. Since there’s no crime, he just sits in his jeep next to the convenience store and waits for speeders, so of course everyone goes about twenty-five. I went through town and turned out onto the road, where you can speed up a little. I reached down to put my seat belt on. I guess it took a little longer than I anticipated, because I looked up and there were trees in front of me. I said to myself oh shit, great, now I crash my fucking car. It felt to me like I hit some greenery and got hung up on some bushes and the car came to a stop. I got out thinking I could push it free and get back on the road. I was surprised to find the windshield shattered and the front end stove in like a beer can. I called Mini roadside service to tow me. After a few minutes a bunch of cars started pulling over. I had crashed right at the entrance to Cochiti Pueblo, so the first responders were all Indians. I told them I was fine, but I looked a little shocky to them, so they had me sit down until the ambulance came. By then my neck hurt a little. The ambulance guys strapped me to a stretcher, wedged my head into some kind of brace, and took me to the hospital. The nurse gave me some pills, percs or something, hooked up an iv line for fluids, and they took me to x-ray. I told them I had been there about two weeks before for films of my neck, and they could compare today’s to those. They came back after a while. No new damage, they said, but man, your neck is really fucked up. They decided to send me home. The nurse pumped a needle full of dilaudid through my line. I felt the back of my neck go slack and warm, then all sensation disappeared from my head as I felt a burst of sweet familiar joy. They handed me a script for some kind of pills. I didn’t know what kind. I couldn’t focus my eyes on the script. I took a taxi to the drugstore, got my pills, ate about seven, and called work to update them. I don’t know how I must have sounded. They said sit still. A few minutes later C. and G. showed up and drove me home. I read the pill bottle again and thought it said oxycontin, so I crushed up a few pills and snorted them. I thought shit, that experience is overrated. The next day, when I could read, I discovered they were only oxycodone, generic for percocets. Good thing. I might have developed a drug problem.

No hillbilly heroin! Armani Johnny’s not buying any rope belts, so help me, Calvin.

So I’m lying in the ambulance with my head in the neck brace, able to talk only through clenched teeth, while the officer is giving me my citations, one for driver inattention and one for driving on a suspended license. I said what a minute, my license isn’t suspended. I discover a few days later that I ran a red light in January and the camera mounted above the traffic light caught me. You’re supposed to get notification in the mail that you’re bagged and tagged. I hadn’t gotten it. I paid the ticket on their automated phone line last week. So this morning I go to court with my license reinstated and ready to take my lumps in terms of fines or driver school or lashes or whatever they do. I’d looked when I got home from the hospital at the tickets, and I couldn’t focus my drug-soaked eyes very well, but I could make out MONTOYA. I got to the Montoya Building in Santa Fe this morning and couldn’t find traffic court. I looked at my citations. They said Montoya *Street* in Bernalillo. Out in Cochiti, we’re outside Santa Fe County. They lump us in with Albuquerque. I had driven half an hour into Santa Fe. I now had to drive that half hour back and an additional half hour back the other way to Bernalillo. I went a hundred the whole way and made it in about forty. I followed the signs to the Sandoval County Judicial Complex. I ran in and asked the security guard where traffic court was. He told me no, I was in the wrong building. I drove back, the way I had come, of course, to the other building and ran in there.

I burst into the courtroom just in time to catch the last few minutes in session. I said this your honor, that your honor, just like on teevee. That and my suit, though sweaty by then but worn out of respect for the court, seemed to work. She decided to let me off on the reckless driving charge. I just had to come back next week with proof that my license was reinstated, because on the DMV’s computer they have up on the podium, I’m still suspended. I was confused by all the legal rigamarole, which made me feel like I was a property at a slave auction, but I think I get out of this for about a hundred bucks. That and the hundred copay at the Emergency. And the thousand for my share of the ambulance. And the five hundred deductible for front end repairs and a new windshield on my car. And the hundred fifty for my share of the rental car. My neck still hurts, but shit, here I thought I was going to have to pay a bunch of money.

Thank Christ, you’re a bobblehead man with an inflatable sports car. Wait, what’s with your neck?

Oh, right, my neck. Yeah, the x-ray technicians who looked at me after the wreck were surprised I wasn’t paralyzed. Over the last, I don’t know, five to seven years, I’ve been rear-ended three or four times. X-rays, pills, neck braces, days in bed. It’s become routine. I once hurtled into a guy’s rear end myself, at speed, on the highway, and that was no laughing party either, I’m here to tell you, though just barely. This is much more involvement with plunging into rear ends than is moral or a wise idea. Of course that’s never stopped me before.

Nothing moral or wise ever stopped him before. He’s got me there. As for the rear ends – if you’re waiting for me to say He’s got me there, too you will keep waiting – apparently you can go just a little faster than the driver in front of you – briefly.

It sure can cost ya. Has a handsome man ever looked so Capote?

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