I recently received a gift, a copy of The Writer’s Block, by Jason Rekulak. An editor in contact with writers from many genres, Mr. Rekulak concluded that no matter how prolific an author might be, at one time or another every author has endured some form of writer’s block. Formatted as a 672-page, three-inch cube (a writer’s block), the book is not a how-to manual. Instead, it’s filled with an assortment of writing challenges, spark words with illustrations, and writing topics that can be selected at random to ignite a writer’s creativity. Whether suffering from writer’s block, or just seeking a different topic to write about, the book is worth investigating.
Rather than admire my cube until I got blocked, I opened it to one of the writers’ challenges and used it for the stimulus behind this week’s blog post. The challenge: Write a scene in which a motorist hits a young boy on a bicycle, but describe the scene four times from the individual perspectives of the people involved––the boy; the driver of the car; the passenger in the car; and a pedestrian who witnesses the accident. It’s up to you readers to decide which one of them is telling the entire truth.
Enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
Red and blue lights strobed through the increasing darkness. As the ambulance signaled its departure, Police Officer Ed Banks returned to the car involved in the accident. The driver stood on the sidewalk. Although the temperature hovered in the eighty-degree range, the elderly man shivered.
Officer Banks extended his hand. “Here’s your driver’s license, Mr. Franklin. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I––I guess. No, I’m not. I just hit a child with my car. How can I be all right?”
“I understand, sir, and I’m sorry you were involved. Would you mind telling me what happened?”
“How about we take a seat in my patrol car where it’s more comfortable.”
In the back seat of the black-and-white, Mr. Franklin inhaled, held the air for a few seconds, then let it go. “It––it happened so fast. My friend and I were driving home from our church social––we meet the first Thursday of every month. Though the light was green, I eased off the gas and looked both ways as we approached the Montrose and Second Street intersection––just like I always do––at every intersection. Then, out of nowhere, a young boy on a bicycle darts out in front of me. I swerved and slammed on the brakes, but it was too late. I’ll never forget that awful sound, or the look on that boy’s face.”
“I understand. So, you didn’t see the boy approaching the intersection?”
“If I had, I’d have braked and swerved much sooner. That poor boy. Do you know his name? Will he be okay?”
“His name is Kenny Larson––fourteen-years old. Though he was pretty banged up, the EMTs stabilized him and transported him to the hospital.”
“Good. Good. Sure hope he pulls through okay.”
“He’s in good hands, Mr. Franklin. You said the light was green in your lane?”
“Yes, I’m sure of it.”
“I see. According to your license, you wear glasses when you drive, is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Were you wearing them tonight?”
Franklin touched his face and noticed the absence of eye wear.
The second responder to the scene, Officer Susan Harding sat on the curb beside Sheila Parker, the passenger in the car. Parker’s head bowed toward the pavement and slowly arced side to side. She intermittently pushed back her gray hair and wiped her eyes.
Harding returned Sheila’s ID along with a tissue. “Are you certain you’re all right, Ms. Parker?”
“Yes, just shaken up. I’ll be okay. But that poor boy. I keep seeing his face as he hit the windshield. He looked so startled––so afraid.”
“I’m sure he was. Here, I have another tissue.”
Parker dabbled her eyes once more, then turned to Officer Harding. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Would you mind telling me what you remember about the accident?”
Parker sighed. “Charlie and I––Charlie was driving.”
“You’re referring to Mr. Franklin?”
“Yes, Charlie Franklin. We were returning from our monthly church meeting. Charlie and I were talking––he’s so easy to talk to. Anyway, we were talking when I saw something and hollered, ‘Look out.’ Then BANG. That boy and his bicycle hit the side of the car so hard. Then he slammed against the windshield. Charlie swerved and jammed on the brakes, and the boy fell to the street.”
“Do you recall what color the traffic light was in your lane?”
“It had just turned yellow, which gave Charlie plenty of time to get through the intersection. It’s fortunate a man with a cell phone was walking his dog nearby and called 911.”
“You’re right, that was fortunate. Were you and Mr. Parker facing one another while you talked?”
“Well, of course. It’s rude not to.”
Officer Banks suggested Mr. Franklin wait in the back seat of the patrol car while he chatted with the man standing with his dog a few feet from the intersection.
“I’m Officer Ed Banks with the Metro Police.”
“Skip Noonan,” the dog walker said. “Sorry to meet under these circumstances.”
Banks smiled. “I agree. Nice looking canine. I understand you were walking him nearby when the accident occurred.”
“He’s a her. And, yes, we were coming down Second Street toward Montrose. I happened to look across the intersection and spotted the kid racing downhill on his bicycle like he was possessed––like he had a death wish or something.”
“You think he was trying to hurt himself?”
“As busy as this intersection normally is, I’d sure have to wonder.”
“Did you witness the impact between the cyclist and the car?”
Skip nodded. “As the kid approached Montrose, he seemed to lose control––went sideways, kinda straightened up, then BAM. The kid flew off his bike, smashed into the car’s windshield, and rolled onto the street.”
“What about the car? Do you recall whether the driver took any evasive actions?”
“I…I heard tires squeal, but, quite honestly––’cause I have kids of my own–– I was focused on the boy.”
“Did you happen to notice what color the traffic light was on Second Street?”
“Not really. Like I said, I was focused on the boy. I waved and hollered at him to slow down, but he either didn’t see or hear me, or he didn’t care. Soon as he hit the pavement, I grabbed my phone and dialed 911. I had First-Aid training, so I ran down to do what I could. By that time, the car had stopped on the other side of the intersection––where it is now. When I got to him, the boy was pretty beat up. Funny…he kept saying he was sorry.”
Officers Banks and Harding sat with Kenny Larson’s parents in the ER waiting room. The fear of losing their son tortured the Larsons’ expressions as they spoke.
“We had an argument,” Mr. Larson said. “Kenny stormed out of the house and ran into the garage then rode off on his bike.”
“In the dark,” Mrs. Larson added.
“What was the argument about?” Harding inquired.
“This time it was about some stupid game his friends were playing,” Mr. Larson said. He huffed. “Some friends. Kenny was so damned mad when he left.”
Mrs. Larson sniffed. “He’s been angry a lot, lately.”
Banks took a deep breath before he asked, “Has Kenny ever seemed suicidal?”
The Larsons stared at one another. Neither of them replied nor seemed insulted by the question. As if ashamed to answer, their empty expressions drooped toward the floor.
“I’m sorry,” Banks said. “I didn’t mean to––”
“Excuse me, I’m Dr. Pauley. Are you Kenny Larson’s parents?”
“Yes,” the Larsons chorused. “Is he…”
“He has several broken bones, plus some cuts and nasty bruises, but he should pull through fine. He’d like to see you.”
“Mind if we tag along?” Officer Harding said.
Tears streamed down Mrs. Larson’s cheeks as she nodded, then hugged her husband.
Kenny’s tears matched his mother’s as she, his father, and the two officers stood beside his bed. Taken aback by their son’s bandaged, swollen, and bruised face, Mr. and Mrs. Larson remained silent.
Recognizing their distress, Officer Harding said, “Glad to know you’ll be okay, Kenny. I’m sure you and your parents would like some time together. But, if it’s alright, I’d like to ask a few questions about the accident, then we’ll leave you folks alone.”
Kenny glanced at his mom and dad, who both nodded.
“Thank you,” Harding said, then focused on Kenny. “If you’re up to it, I’d like you to recall what happened tonight. Think you can do that for me?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Good. Your parents said you left the house in an angry mood, is that right?”
Kenny’s eye drifted toward the bed sheets. “My friends were havin’ a Fortnite tournament. I wanted to go but my mom and dad said no.”
“I see. But wasn’t it dark when you left?”
“Yeah, but I knew where I was goin’.”
“Okay. What happened when you got to Second and Montrose?”
“Because of the argument, I was gonna be late. But my bike’s got twenty-one speeds, so I was makin’ up time comin’ down Second. The light just turned yellow when I was almost in the intersection. I thought, ‘I got this.’ Then I saw the car. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t. You know the rest.”
“Yes, we do,” Officer Banks said. “You get some rest, now. We’ll get back to you if we have any more questions.”