Six Years

He said he didn’t see him. Some old drunk staggering across the street. Pint bottle in his hand. Old suit jacket from the Salvation Army store on Jefferson. A crucifix around his neck. It was broad daylight.

The kid hit him right in the center of his Dodge. Knocked the old man a good fifteen feet. Cops said the driver was going 60 in a 30 zone. The victim was pronounced dead on sight. There was quite a bit of blood on the street. Like he’d hit a deer. The old man laid there. Blood shot eyes staring up at God.

Boy was showing off for his girlfriend. Dodging in and out of traffic. Speeding through red lights. Playing music real loud. She was not impressed. The teenage girl sat on the curb crying. She saw the body hit the car; felt the impact. She cried even harder when she saw the cover pulled over him. The boy just sat there in shock. Cops asked him if he’d been drinking? He shook his head no.

He just came out of nowhere, the boy said. I didn’t see him. Neither one of us saw him till it was too late. It all happened so fast. I was driving through town and he just jumped out in front of me, he began to sob as well.

The EMT’s placed the body in the back of the ambulance. Shutting the doors. Closing the life on the old drunk. People gathered around to watch. Couple of bums said they knew him. Saw him down at the shelter for dinner about every night. He’d say grace then eat. They said it’d been a long time since the old man had a drink. Told the officers he’d been sober for a good couple of months. Even went to meetings at the church. He was going through the book step by step. Said he was up to the part about making amends.

That old man had a wife and a kid at one time, one of the bums told the police. He talked about em. Said he’d written a letter to say he was sorry for all the damage he’d done. Wasn’t quite sure where to send it to so he kept it in his pocket, the beggar said. Shame. Real shame.

The boy was taken away in a squad car. Charged with vehicular manslaughter. He was looking at six years. That’s what his attorney told him. And that’s what he did. He never drove again.


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