Evangelina spit blood again. At least, there was less this time.
Stumbling and weeping, she grabbed up Antonio, his almost empty diaper bag, and half stumbled through the broken door of their apartment. She almost fell on the concrete stairs that led to the parking lot, slowed herself and made it to her car.
As she strapped Antonio into his carrier, it came to her: I cannot let myself be hurt anymore today! It’s about my mijo now, little Antonio. If I get hurt, there is no one for him. Certainly not his father, that bastard, Raul.
Raul was still breathing when she had left. She’d smashed his bottle of Tito’s across his face and forehead, after he’d blasted her backwards, over the coffee table. There was lots of blood, but Raul was definitely breathing.
The cheap sedan started easily for once. At least the weather was cooperating. It was mid-December, but almost balmy. Unusual this far north, in Kansas City.
Her panic returned and she raced out of the parking lot, going anywhere. She ran the window down and spit blood again.
Her cell rang from her pocket. It would Raul, of course. Every fucking time. Pleading, cajoling, threatening, promising and begging. She let it ring.
Antonio had calmed down. Riding in the car usually accomplished that. She merged north onto the 71 highway and then crossed the river into an area she barely knew, the locals called it “The Northland”. Her sister-in-law worked at a bakery there, near the riverboat casinos. Elba, (the sister-in-law) was her only friend in the world. Maybe they could talk during Elba’s lunch break.
As she rounded the final corner, she abruptly jammed her car to a halt. The street was cordoned off with police tape and two men, their faces concealed, wearing camouflage and holding machine guns blocked any further progress. Behind them two green busses labeled “INS” were being loaded with handcuffed workers. She clearly saw Elba, three paces from the bus door.
Evangelina slipped her car into reverse and carefully drove towards anywhere, again. Antonio was awake now and screaming. As she crossed the 210 highway she abruptly jerked to the left toward Missouri City. Elba’s trailer was there. Mari was probably looking after little Jorge as best a ten-year-old sister could, so maybe some good could come of this, as if Evangelina could take on two more kids.
She went east on the 210. Antonio was still screaming. She looked her child. His eyes were wild; It all came pounding down on her brain now. She felt around in the diaper bag for a pacifier. One eye on the road, she leaned over to her baby with the pacifier; her call phone started ringing and fell on the floor. She glanced down and reached for the phone, heard her tires hit the shoulder and then a solid thock coming from beside and behind her. She jerked the car back on the highway and checked her mirror.
A large motorcycle was bouncing end over end down the highway behind her, as a man went headfirst into a ditch. A vacuum seemed to seize her body. It all had to stop NOW. She managed to pull over. Antonio was suddenly silent.
Numb now, she got Antonio out of the carrier and started walking back toward the crashed man and motorcycle.
As I left the repair shop, I was thinking, So, what really are my options? Put a used engine in a minivan I really don’t much like?
At least, I still had my Harley and a freak warm spell this late in the year. The new job looked like it might work out. I certainly owed my wife some stability. And suddenly, my reasonably new minivan had sucked a piston.
The motorcycle was a joy to ride on this bright, sunny day, though. I’d made a few modifications to the engine and electronics, and I could view the current situation as a dancing lesson from God.
I was riding over to Excelsior Springs to check on a truck a friend was selling from his used car lot.
The 210 highway is two lanes, freshly resurfaced, completely smooth and unusually straight for a rural highway in this area. I was cruising along easily maybe sixty-five or seventy occasionally passing cars in light traffic.
I remember I was passing a ragged sedan when it suddenly veered into me for no apparent reason. I came down hard on the rumble strip, felt something snap in my chest and I started bouncing. The next memory, there were people gathered around me. A woman was cradling my head and trying to find a pulse. A serious looking man was putting away his phone and said something about an ambulance. Another woman, a horrified looking Mexican, was kneeling next to me, a baby on her hip and blood on her mouth. The baby was beautiful, and I reached up and touched his hand. Then there was nothing.
Transcript from a witness, Max Bristow, interview (Chief, Pleasant Valley Fire Department):
None of it made any sense. I was off duty, heading east on two-ten in my personal vehicle, hoping to get home in time for kick off. I was pacing the motorcycle approximately one hundred yards behind, wishing I still had one like it. The weather was clear, just a bright beautiful day, completely unexpected.
The sedan was moving relatively slowly, doing forty-five or Fifty miles per hour in the right-hand lane. The motorcycle had his turn signal on as he began to pass, when she veered into the bike. The rider was thrown from the bike almost immediately when the bike hit the recut rumble strip and he came down hard in the drainage ditch.
I stopped immediately and went to assist. Peggy Green, a nurse from North Kansas City Hospital, also stopped and began rendering first aid as I called 911. The driver of the sedan, a young Hispanic woman, voluntarily stopped and joined us. She was carrying an infant and appeared to be in a state of shock. She did not appear to be intoxicated or impaired in any way.
The motorcyclist was conscious but was not coherent. He was lying flat on his back. He mumbled something about love. He then reached out and touched the infant’s hand. The baby giggled and the man abruptly died.
Like I said, none of it made any sense.
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