they don’t really care about us.

the bus in front of me turned left as i lightly pressed the accelerator to begin crossing the intersection. i was helped the rest of the way by another vehicle slamming into my car’s rearend, pushing it, the police report indicated, eighty feet before it stopped. in the rearview mirror, i saw the other car, silver in color, quickly turn right. i spun around, watching them disappear away from me, as i contemplated, first, driving in reverse and chasing after them, and, second, leaving my battered car and running to catch them.

i was too stunned to do either, traffic resuming while i sat in the driver’s seat. when i exited the vehicle to survey the damage, no one stopped to check on my condition; on the contrary: they honked, they glared, they sped off. it was just before midnight.

in the days that followed i took extended lunch breaks to walk to the site, making note of the cameras aimed at the area, offering spare change to the homeless for information, collecting evidence. i had found tiny pieces of red plastic embedded in my bumper, and, every time i came across a piece on the street, i picked it up, thinking it was a clue. i found a few larger segments, prying them from the asphalt as traffic continued unabated. at my desk, i pasted them together, returning to the streets to gather more before finding, face down under a parked car, the front bumper plate to which they were once attached. it turned out it belonged to an ohio state fan, irrevocably severing my relationship with that school.

i asked the security of various buildings that lined the street if they would look at their tapes. i’d call back when they didn’t return my calls, pointing out to them, when they told me none of their cameras had a view of the street, that there were at least twelve that met such criteria — and i’d be willing to go through the archives myself.

i wrote to newspapers and put ads on craigslist. i handed the information over to the police officer in charge of my case. i sought the advice of lawyers.

nothing came of any of it. my insurance paid for the repairs, increasing my premium, and i was responsible for the deductible. i know it sounds silly, but something inside me broke when i watched the car that hit me drive away. stunned, i tried to focus on the brake lights of the vehicles dodging around me, converging into vast sea of red. the sensation in my fingertips when i pressed against an object was different, less substantial.

i scanned the parking garages for cars with front-end damage or other tell-tale signs of impact (or allegiance to ohio state university). i became a phantom, sifting under doors and through cracks, hating everyone. i wore the honda symbol from my trunk on a chain around my neck as a reminder that no one could be trusted, and everything would lead to pain.

that is how i changed in the days that followed the accident. for a few moments, though, before everything else, that is, the impuissance of the individual, et alia, entrenched itself in my brain, i was thankful i wasn’t killed, if only because, a year from now, when everyone was busy mourning those whose deaths were reaching a first anniversary, my name would only appear on the tip of the tongue but would remain unspoken, not even as a footnote, as those left behind moonwalked, grabbed their crotches, and tossed their hats aside in honor of michael jackson.

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One Response to “they don’t really care about us.”

  1. the vignettist Says:

    […] friends (there’s that incomprehensible, dry sense of humor again), i told them about my hatred for ohio state university, even showing them a picture of the license plate i’d recovered […]

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