On the way home from summer camp, a cigarette butt rolled past a rugged tire to the white stripe on the road, conceding to the whims of the wind, not touching anything. I allowed myself a blink and caught his image as my eyelid shuttered up, crouched low on his sleek Harley Davidson. My head banked right in awe, stirred by the weathered arms sculpted to the handlebars. The stingy air conditioning strained to meet me here in the third row of the Mays’ minivan; I fanned it closer, propped up the window, and bit my lip. The big bit of machine throbbed between his legs, hummed low in the lane next to us. I fell upon lust at a busy intersection with a dirty looking redneck on a motorcycle. Twenty seconds later I had already planned a wedding reception. Implausible. There isn’t enough time at a stoplight, I mused.
My eyes drifted back to the cigarette butt and it fluttered under the influence of a sedan’s muffler. With the sudden combination of screams, horns, and crunching aluminum, the burnt stub snuffed out the connubial air. Two lanes away, a semi turning west on Okeechobee Boulevard forgot to propel the trailer sufficiently. The torpor and acceleration fought then swung the cargo too far into the proximal lane and before my eyes a domino effect condemned all of the forward pressing drivers.
I worried for the man on the Harley. As cars scrunched like unnecessary paper into each other, zigzagging over the asphalt, his turn was only seconds away. My voice reached him before the velocity did. “Get on this side!” I waved my arms in desperation. “Hurry! Move to this side of the van!” His head flashed around and his engine revved and he weaved through to the island. The green Toyota, whose muffler had tousled the filter-tip, inched closer and closer to my window. I saw the panicked look of a woman as she screamed and drifted involuntarily into the door next to me. Finally sensing my own danger, I unbuckled myself, sliding to my left in one swift motion. The fear was bigger than the impact. We were two lanes from the truck and the tail had no more acceleration. The van tipped. Mrs. Mays and the girls all screamed. And with a thud, I knew we were safe.
The breath that was trapped in my throat coughed itself free. Our shock went ahead, passing out concerned “Are you ok?” checks and sighs of relief. I looked around – for him. He was standing, one foot in front of the other, his palms pressed up on the van, heaving air. He looked up for me, then at me, and the purity in his eyes made me understand. Once upright and relieved, he pulled his lips against his teeth, not a smile really, and he nodded. I mouthed my thanks to his back, knowing that he deserved much more.
story by Maxie Steer, all rights reserved