Sunday Storytelling is a new series where I post a piece of fiction each Sunday. It might be a complete short story, a snippet of a work in progress, a character sketch, a response to one of the thousands of creative writing prompts I’ve collected through the years. Most of them won’t be polished or “final,” so feedback and criticism is welcome, but please be constructive in your comments.
“Are you going the right way in your life?”
His words boomed above the crowd, but nobody paid them any mind.
“Have you accepted your Lord and Savior? Is your life on the right track? With the Lord you will have the power to turn your life around. You will travel on the straight path to salvation instead of veering through wrong turns.”
He turned around, waving his arms wildly as if he was striving to lift off and hover above the crowd to better make his point.
“With trust and faith in the Lord –”
He didn’t see the Vespa that careened and skidded around the turn. He promptly lost consciousness upon impact and therefore didn’t see that it took a full ninety seconds for anyone to approach the scene or call 911.
One smartphone had managed to record the whole altercation. The young man pushed and shoved his way through the crowd to continue the capture the best angle as he mentally planned his tweets and Facebook posts that would be coming soon. If only he had a second smartphone with which he could upload such witticisms while continuing to record the scene.
A woman, not quite as old as most would have guessed, with a double stroller and a toddler attached to the stroller with a bright pink, polka-dotted harness, dug through small Tupperware containers of snacks, bottles, lotions, a glasses case, tampons, and extra diapers to find her cell phone and called for assistance. One of the babies in the stroller started fussing as she spoke to the operator and as she moved to find his pacifier and soothe him, she didn’t even notice the call had dropped. Then her sister texted before she could call back and she noticed a distinct smell and very concentrated expression from the other baby.
The security guard at the bank on the corner was the one who flagged down an off-duty officer, who sighed but strode purposefully to the Vespa and the tangled limbs around it, warning people to stand back, back, give some room. He had left his radio in the car, at the parking garage three blocks away.
The bored local news reporter would later say that a full fifteen minutes had passed before the ambulance made its way to the intersection, although several of the eyewitnesses said it had only been two, maybe three minutes. One noted that his coffee was still steaming when the EMTs leapt out, so it couldn’t have been that long.
The Vespa driver, female, twenty-two years old, was still conscious but just barely. When it was apparent she had no neck or spinal injuries, attention was turned to the man. The trunk he had been standing on was knocked over and stacks of Bibles had tumbled out. One EMT, a recently-converted atheist, smirked as he kicked them aside. His partner, a non-practicing Jew, shook his head — at the Bibles or the godless man’s actions, no one could tell.
“Where’s your faith in God now?” someone called from the crowd. The young man with the smartphone still recording had pushed to the front and was softly narrating the scene as it unfolded on the screen. He would be supremely disappointed later when his video failed to catch attention of any of the nightly network news, but it would earn him nearly forty likes and several comments saying “OMG” by the next morning, which would soften the blow.
The EMTs methodically, as if unaware of the crowd pressing ever closer, despite the off-duty cop’s attempts to hold the people back, stabilized the man’s neck and placed him on a gurney, which collapsed and rolled smoothly into the back. The nearest hospital was only three miles away but road work forced the driver on a five-mile detour. By the time they had arrived, the young man’s Facebook post already had ten likes and three comments that said “OMG.”
The man was admitted with a concussion, separated shoulder, and three broken ribs. He was lucky. Whether his luck could be credited to God, no one would say, except for the older nurse who still kept a rosary in her pocket, leftover from her earlier position at a Catholic hospital in another state.
He woke up later that night, woozy and uncertain of where he was. A nurse happened to pass by to check on another patient in the room and did not notice he had awoken until she became faintly aware of being watch. She turned calmly and approached his bedside.
“Are you in pain?” she asked pleasantly, checking his chart. No name, no identification. Insurance unknown and questionable. She made a note of the time so the day nurse could make the necessary attempts to contact family or an emergency contact. That wasn’t her job; she was just to supposed to ensure patients were stable and not in great need of anything.
But when she returned to the desk, she was curious and checked the police database to see if anyone had filed a missing persons report matching the man’s description. There was nothing. She pitied him for living alone, without anyone to come home to.
He buzzed her back to the room before she had closed the browser window.
“What happened?” he asked when her outline filled the doorway.
She crossed the room and picked up his chart again. “Says you were involved in a minor collision. Concussion, separated shoulder and three broken ribs.” She lowered the chart. “Do you not remember anything?”
He looked away, towards the dark window.
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
He closed his eyes and shook his head.
She replaced the chart on the end of the bed and patted the blankets. “Doctor will be back to check on you in the morning. If you need anything in the meantime, just give me a ring.”
Comments, feedback, and constructive criticism welcome…