the watcher

A perfect web, symmetrical and flawless, stretched between the garage and exterior light.  The spider that had woven it hung nearby under the eaves of the garage waiting for day to turn to night.  Then it crawl down to its delicate creation and walk across to perch in the center and wait for its meal to arrive.  It was a process the little boy had watched for several dusks in a row.  He was captivated by the tiny creature.

The little boy was captivated by all sorts of creatures.  The spider that had adopted his garage was just the latest.  Before, he had watched a hummingbird build a nest in a tree in his backyard until eggs appeared and then hatched and the even tinier birds filled the next and grew and flew away.  Before that, he had watched a caterpillar build a chrysalis and then later break free and fly away as a butterfly.  It had danced in the breeze, graceful, beautiful, and then fluttered lifted up and over his yard’s wall and out of sight.

He had lots of time to sit and watch life.  The vantage point of his chair, his constant companion since the accident, gave him the perfect opportunity to observe, to learn.  At first he had hated the chair, of course.  It had been a prison cell, his punishment for the mistakes that had led to the accident.  Over time he had grown used to it, though, until he had become a part of him.  While that was happening he began to see things around him more clearly.  He never would have noticed the caterpillar if not for the chair.  He’d have been too busy running and jumping, climbing and swinging, dashing about in his normal frenzied play to have seen the slight movement, the less than a breeze stirring it created as it inched down the leaf.  But he had seen it and he had watched all that happened after.  That opened the whole world to him.

worth it

There are moments in the day where time bends and slips to tick away the seconds at odd intervals: sometimes fast and sometimes slow.  The trick, his one true talent, was to recognize those moments and tailor his activities accordingly.  When time skipped, he tackled the chores he was dreading most so they would be over quicker.  When time crawled, he would switch to the tasks he liked the best to enjoy them longer.  In this manner, he passed his days until she came into his life.  Or rather, more accurately, until she crashed into his car.

It was near the summer solstice in the final days of June, one of those days where the sun comes up early and stays up late for fear of missing out on something fun, and he was in his car taking advantage of time slipping quickly to commute home from work.  He spent a lot of time in his car.  The commuter lifestyle wasn’t something he chose but something he tolerated and when he felt the seconds piling together he would jump in his car and hit the road.  The tires and pavement would sing in baritone and tenor, the radio would provide the percussion and rhythm, and with the time passing faster than normal the drive home would be almost pleasant.

On the days the timing worked best, the slipping seconds would ease back to normal just as he parked his car in the garage, and then they would stretch out and allow him long moments to enjoy his hobbies as the afternoon sluggishly sauntered on.  However, the day he met her he never got to those long lounging moments because as he pulled off the freeway, she ran a red light and crunched into his passenger side.  The world spun.  Glass splintered and flew.  Metal crunched and warped.  But, somehow they were both okay.

Their eyes met and time stopped altogether in a glorious display of the universe’s power.

Since then they have been nearly inseparable.  They willingly gave up their own freedoms, beholden to no schedule but their own, to become a unit forced to work together, compromise, struggle and triumph.  And, since he no longer had the opportunity to change tasks based on the bending or stretching seconds, he eventually forgot how to recognize when those moments were happening.

He never regretted the loss for he had gained far more.

terribly right

I posted a story over at Stories That Must Not Die today, and, as always, would appreciate your feedback… This one was tough for me. Not to write, but to live it, and to live with my decision afterwards.

Stories that Must Not Die

I did the right thing, the legal thing, the safety conscious thing, and I’ve felt terrible ever since.

She looked scared, and confused, as I pulled my truck in nose-to-nose with her Outback, and I wasn’t surprised that she waived me over as soon as I stepped out into the parking lot.  I noticed she was very close to the car next to her, a Charger, so I went around the back to approach her window.

“I’m sorry, I’ve never done this before, but I’ve somehow locked myself in.”

Her hair was white.  Her skin sagged away from fragile arms.  She had lived many years.  Her voice was small.  It didn’t quiver, but it was full of fear and confusion.  Her eyes begged for me to solve this mystery for her, so she could get her shopping done and continue with her day.  I asked if she had a key…

View original post 840 more words


Image Credit: Dvortygirl

The flares, sputtering red, shoved across the unbroken white line, are the only evidence that remain of the early morning tragedy.  Their harsh bursts of splotchy fire defy the tranquil darkness, daring the passersby to remember their own mortality, to ponder the recently departed.  They demand attention, and they receive it as the road slows to a crawl.  One by one, we all pay homage, for those few minutes, until the light of the flares fades to nothingness in our rear-view mirrors, and then we forget and speed along on our separate journeys through shared space and time.

We must forget.  It is the only way we can maintain our tenuously grasped shred of sanity in a world spinning farther and faster away from our control every aging second.  If we ever fully admit and realize our mortality, we will surely be crushed by the enormity of that truth.  It hovers above us at all times, a mass of risks and eventualities with dagger edged arms known as “fear” and “doubt” that swing chaotically around us hoping to pierce our hearts.

Outlines of ghost cars, mangled, misshapen and mauled, flash briefly and faintly in the scattered lights.  The trail of dying flares run through where the shimmering husks once rested, our eyes showing us a glimpse of how things were before we arrived.  We don’t see the accident itself, we don’t hear the screams or see the blood, but we see the aftermath.  We see how the vehicles had been pushed to the edge of the road so that progress could go on.

Progress must go on.  We cannot be inconvenienced by the unfortunate events that befall others.  We cannot spare them more time from our own dwindling reserves than we have already given in our slow hat-tipping pass by their final resting places.  There are bills to buy and junk to pay.  We have families that pretend to depend on us.  We have careers that pretend to value us.  The world is topsy-turvy and we have to hurry along our paths before we get left behind and fall off.

Four cars collided one dark and mist soaked morning in December hours before the sun would rise and the bulk of southern California’s humanity would flock in search of their daily worms.  Time slowed for their fellow commuters as they gawked at the chaos and aftermath, stuck on the thermals of their morbid curiosity.  The sirens came and tended to the injured and cleared the scene in some semblance of an importance based order.  Time played its normal tricks, from too slow to too fast, and the day moved on.

Four lives were forced to face their mortality, and all those who drove by the spot of turmoil, for a time, were required to briefly join their journey of contemplation.  But the power of the tragedy waned as the hours passed, and eventually no trace, not even the flickering of a dying flare, was left as a portal to deathly thoughts.  Another day, another tragedy, and it was quickly brushed aside, except for those four lives who could never forget again.

no pressure

A series of interviews – an exercise in truth:

If you want to play along, read the following statements given to a police officer and then answer the questions at the end.

“I saw the whole thing!  I was across the street talking with my coworker, Jim, and the car jumped the curb and hit the lady.  It was horrible!”

“I saw the whole thing!  I was out walking Measles, that’s my dog, and we turned the corner from Alpine onto Fifth, and this guy punched the lady, she fell backward into the street and was hit by a car.  It was horrible.”

“I saw the whole thing!  My husband, Tony, and I had just finished our meal at the little café at the end of the street.  The lady and man had walked passed our table arguing as we were paying the bill.  They were both shouting at each other.  When we left the café, their yelling drew my attention and I watched as she slapped him and he raised a hand to ward off the attack.  Then she tripped on a fire hydrant and fell backwards into the street where she was struck by the car.  It was horrible!”

“I saw the whole thing!  I was on my bike, Agnus, at the time, and we were on our way to make a package delivery uptown.  The congestion on the street forced me onto the sidewalk for a moment, yes I know the laws, and I had to stop because the lady and man were blocking my path.  They were arguing, which isn’t that uncommon, but then the lady slapped him and that really caught my attention.  Then she pulled out a knife from her purse and looked like she was going to attack him.  He grabbed her wrists to try and wrestle the weapon away from her and she tripped on the fire hydrant and fell into the street.  The car had no time to stop before it hit her.  It was horrible.”

“Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  I was on my way to see my friend, Charles, who lives up Fifth, on the other side of Alpine, and …  And I just can’t believe this happened.  I was in the far right lane, almost up against the curb because the cars around me had just nearly collided.  Some jack-hole in an Audi was traffic weaving and nearly hit a minivan.  I… I don’t see that either of them stopped.  I don’t see them here still.  And then all of a sudden the lady was falling into the street.  I hit the brakes and swerved to try and avoid her, but there was nothing I could do.  There was no room to maneuver.  There wasn’t time to stop.   It was horrible!”

“I’ll tell you everything!  My wife, Gwen, and I were fighting over her brother, who has been staying at our apartment for the last couple months, ever sense he made parole.  I wanted him out because he is a bad person.  She wanted to let him stay because she thought she could help him turn his life around.  Things got pretty heated as we approached Alpine and she slapped me when I suggested that she was blind to the truth of how bad he truly is.  Then she pulled a knife from her purse to show me that she wasn’t that naïve.  She had confiscated the weapon from him that morning.  I reached out to her, to apologize, to offer comfort.  In that moment I knew we would figure out how to make it work.  I love… I loved her.  But, her heel caught in the air vents on the sidewalk as we turned to continue our walk, she lost her balance and fell over the fire hydrant into the street.  The car hit her before I could even react to try and save her.  It was horrible.”

Pertinent information:

The car is on the street, with dark tire tracks left in the road from brakes.  The lady was thrown several yards in front of it.  A knife was recovered near her.  The interviewees all appear visibly distraught.  An agitated crowd is gathering, and the longer you take to make a decision and clear the scene, the rowdier they get.  Half are screaming that the husband of the deceased needs to be arrested immediately for domestic violence, and half are screaming that the driver of the car needs to be arrested for reckless driving.


Which version of the events do you believe?  Which witness(es) do you trust?  Why?  What additional information do you need?

What do you decide to do?

Quick!  The whole nation is watching…


Update:  In a couple discussions in the comments I remembered and brought up a video I had watched in one of my psychology classes in college that showed how unreliable eye witness testimony can be.  I went looking for it on youtube, and while this isn’t the study I remembered, but it is close enough: