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The Little Short or Back Seat Driver

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skull6417280-skullThe white Honda came to a squeaky halt in front of 338 Lightfoot Street. Quickly a numbered placard was put in the window. The passenger to be, a well suited, dark haired banker started to bark through the slightly closed window, “I had asked for the second tier car, and ten minutes ago.”

Kim Ton, a new driver, responded slowing, her English halting, “Sorry, sir, they say I was car in area. Do you accept ride”. Shaking with impatience, he managed, “ Oh what the hell …  just move quickly.”

The car was not new nor was it shiny. Kim Ton clearly did not know the streets and put the GPS on in her native tongue. This made the banker extremely uncomfortable. “I can tell you how to go…surely better than this chirping.”

Kim shook her head kindly and hoped he would understand that the route she programmed was for streets. Not so speedy and safer considering her newness at the wheel. Unfortunately for the banker, the frequent stop signs made the car lurch forward and the papers he was reading tumble to the floor.

“Bloody hell. It’s bad enough I’m sitting in a heap, but with a woman driver,” he bellowed, hoping he’d offend. This is the last time I use this blasted service. It’s appalling.” Getting no reaction, he continued, “How do I know what the voice is saying?  You could be stretching out this trip to make more money. Switch it to English.”

Kim shook at the power of his voice. She patted her stomach, hoping her daughter would not feel the stress from this passenger.

“I want English.”  Nervously she pressed the buttons and the GPS was now in English. “Keep right ahead .8 of a mile and turn right onto Sunset.”

The car went forward a bit then turned onto Brassten.

“What? Are you deaf? Didn’t you hear what that stupid thing said?”

Kim heard but didn’t understand English well enough to follow. She was counting on intuition. Forward seemed best.

Brassten was swollen with traffic. The banker was seething and threatened to jump out. Kim squeezed on the steering wheel wishing she were on a farm.

“That’s it. Stop here.” It was the middle of the block, middle of the road.  But Kim was flustered.

She brought the car to a complete stop. Frantic, the banker opened the door to leap out. Immediately, he was hit by a car that was focused on traffic far ahead. Kim threw up on her own lap.

……

Hospitals are busy places. They move ‘em in, they move ‘em out. Nurses and doctors can work incredibly long shifts and it is to their credit that most peoples’ stay in hospitals are ok enough and eventually they all go home. Sometimes accidents can happen and babies are switched. But that’s rare.

The banker was fast asleep on the gurney. He was given shots for the pain. His wife, flying into town that night, should be there after surgery. Though there was damage, the residents all agreed that it was not so severe and he should respond well in recovery.

Drs. Levy and Jones had time for a quick coffee while the pre op was being ordered. As they headed down to the cafeteria, another patient, a Mr. Vale was parked next to the banker. Like peaceful children, they slept on, perhaps dreaming, waiting for their future.

……………….

Terribly wounded soldiers often speak of their ghost limbs. The arm that was blown off by shrapnel feels so real, like he could throw a ball with it. The leg that used to hike up Mt. Shasta, now only air, but feeling so heavy, like his boots were still on. Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that helps people accommodate to the shock of loss. Belief in ghosts may have always served that purpose. To help make peace with the empty space, the quiet corner.

 

It was a ghost the banker would now live with. It was a ghost that would color all of his days and certainly his nights. He would no longer need to zip up the fly of his Brioni trousers. He would no longer need to hire sex workers when his wife was away. He was changed. He did not ask for it. Sometimes babies are switched. Shit happens. Perhaps he would learn to be happy.

Of course, he didn’t have any of these thoughts …not right away. First he would have to scream till he cried.. Then he would threaten lawsuits.  Finally, when he was most tired, and wanted more than anything to grab something known, warm, and  familiar, he might even pray. That the ghost would come.

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Written by nancykoan

December 11, 2015 at 5:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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