Bump in the Road

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Bump in the Road

By Adriana Pridemore

Rain cascaded across the windshield. The wipers tried in vain to keep up. Mr. Kyle rubbed his eyes again. Sighing heavily he turned up the radio for the third time. If it hadn't been raining he would've opened the window. The cold air might've helped him stay awake. He still had two more days of travel before reached home.

Stifling a yawn, he glanced out the radio’s clock: 1:30 AM. He had been driving for almost 22 hours straight. He had to find a motel or something. He had to stop and sleep. The windshield wipers streaked back and forth, back and forth. Mile marker. Street lamp. Mile marker. Street lamp.

Mr. Kyle's eyelids drooped down. He jerked them open. Slowly they slid down again. Seconds passed, a sudden moment of realization prodded his eyes open but sheer willpower wasn't enough.

Suddenly the car reverberated from an impact. Mr. Kyle jerked awake. Adrenaline surged through him. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel as he tried to slow his hammering heart. After a moment, he noticed he was a small town. He hadn’t remembered getting there.

“…a town?” He stated trying to get a grip on the situation. “It must've been a speed bump I hit."  The glare of a little Motor Lodge sign shone through the rain streaked windshield. "Thank God."

"What town am I in?" Mr. Kyle asked the clerk as he signed a registration card.

"Denton."

"That is quite a speed bump you have coming into town."

"What speed bump?" The clerk frowned.

"The one I hit coming into town, on this road, right out here." Mr. Kyle jerked a thumb over his shoulder.

The look of confusion hadn’t left the clerk's face, "The only speed bump the town is over by the school. You must've hit something else."

"Maybe I was just imagining things." He shrugged as he picked up his key and left the office.

Mr. Kyle parked his car in front of his room retrieved his suitcase and headed for the door. As he rounded the front of his car he noticed a large dent in the bumper. He bent down to examine it. The width of the damage was about as wide as his thigh.         

"What the hell did I hit?" A bit of white under the car’s front caught his eye. He reached under and pulled out a soaking wet white silk scarf. "Huh. Someone must've lost it."

Rubbing his eyes, he turned and entered his room. He’d worry about the dent in the morning. He dropped his suitcase on the end of the bed and surveyed the room. It certainly wasn't the quality he was used to but at least he could shower and sleep. He turned the TV on as he headed to the bathroom.

"Of course I would pick a motel without complimentary shampoo." He dug through his suitcase but couldn't find a shaving case. "Dammit!" He began throwing his clothes on the floor and the bed. "Dammit!" He must've left his shaving kit at the last hotel. He rolled his neck around stared at the ceiling.

“Screw it, I’ll skip the shower.”

The sound of the local news intruded on his musings. "This is the most tragic accident to hit this town in years. A hit and run accident near the Interstate 35 has left a local grade school teacher hospitalized. Myra Collins is now reported to be in critical condition. We go live now to John Wells the scene."

Mr. Kyle slowly turned around. "Interstate 35," he breathed.

“The rain tonight must have been the chief cause of tonight's tragedy. It seems that Mark Collins was crossing the street and was struck by a car traveling eastbound into town. The impact knocked Collins about 30 feet. She was transported to Denton Regional Medical Center. Police are searching tonight for any clue to the identity of the driver.” A picture of pretty young blonde appeared on the screen.

Mr. Kyle's eyes were drawn to the chair by the door where he had dropped the scarf.  "The dent. Oh God, The dent!" Mr. Kyle started to shake. “The speed bump. The dent. Oh God!" Mr. Kyle started pacing. Every time he neared the door he saw the scarf. His agitation increased with every step.

"What am I going to do? I can't tell anyone. I’d lose everything. My career, my wife, my house, everything." He ran his hand through his hair and paced the length of the room.

"Wait, oh crap," he stopped dead. "I told the desk clerk that I hit a speed bump out there. What if he figures it out? What if he already has? I gotta get out of here!”

 Mr. Kyle started grabbing clothes from the floor. In the moments everything was back in the suitcase, but the lid wouldn’t close. Normally his perfectionist packing was the only thing that enabled him to get everything into his suitcase. Mr. Kyle began frantically pushing and shoving socks and shirts into corners of his case.

“Come on!" He screeched. Clothes still refused to cooperate. Mr. Kyle threw the case across the room desperate frustration. He collapsed onto the bed. The TV drew his attention once more. Myra Collins was staring straight at him from the screen.

"You should have looked before walking into the street! It wasn't my fault. I had the right-of-way!" You should have been looking!" He raved at the screen.

Myra Collins still stared at him.

"Okay, maybe I shouldn't have been driving when I was so tired, but you should have been watching!" he thrust himself off the bed and paced the room again.

"What the hell were you doing walking rain at two in the morning, for Christ's sake?" He slapped the side of the TV as he went by. "Stupid woman. You’re a teacher. You should have known better."

Myra Collins continued to stare at him.

"Stop staring at me!" Mr. Kyle screeched at the TV and ripped it off the dresser top. It crashed to the threadbare carpet at exploded in a spray of sparks. A knock sounded at the door. He froze and stared at the door, heart pounding. Automatically his gaze was gone drawn to the white silk scarf lying patiently on the chair.

"Mr. Kyle. This is Sheriff Parker. Will you open the door please?"

 "I... it wasn't my fault...”he whispered. Slowly move to the door as if his body was being dragged to it by Myra Collins’ white silk scarf. He opened the door, whispering. "It wasn't my fault." 

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