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Story Data

Posted November 7, 2002

Original Story: No Fairy Tales

No Fairy Tales

He was cute. She hadn’t expected that. Offenders were supposed to be … well, offensive, not attractive. Unbidden, a story from last week’s Reader’s Digest popped into her mind. A man, a woman, an accident; business meetings over the insurance, then dating and love. Was it ever more than wishful thinking?

He craned his neck at the traffic behind her car, a dozen irritated commuters bored by the sight of spilt glass on pavement. "Damn. We better get this out of the road before the cops get here."

She looked down at her hands, noticed for the first time the way they trembled. Adrenaline, maybe. She’d never been hit before. With a half-breathed prayer, she got back in the car and turned the ignition, waiting for the engine to catch.

It didn’t take long. His truck rolled back into the lot, and she tapped the gas, turning to follow. More bits of headlight and wiring trickled free in her wake, like plastic blood from an unexpected wound.

A passerby stopped on the sidewalk with a cell-phone; she fumbled nervously with her wallet, trying to find her information. Insurance, her brain prompted, yes, must get information for the insurance. Drivers’ license, insurance card … passenger registration?

A police car pulled up, jetting across a road gone suddenly still. The officer stepped out of his car, surveying the subdued wreckage with pursed lips. Belatedly, it occured to her that she shouldn't have disturbed the scene.

She swallowed. The sight of a cop always made her feel vaguely guilty, anyway, for no reason in particular. What if she'd overlooked something else? If she’d swerved left when she braked – no, she still would have hit someone; there’d been a car in the other lane, too. It wasn’t her fault.

"Ma’am, can I ask you what happened here?"

She looked over at the other vehicle. The young man stood in the space behind his open door, talking with the two who’d ridden with him. Witnesses, she thought. Damn; am I sure I had right-of-way?

"Well, I was driving down the road, and this truck pulled out of a driveway with no warning…"

Any passengers? Any injuries? No, no, no … she negatived his questions, then handed over the little rectangles of plastic. "Mmmm. Fill out this form, please," the officer said, and turned to speak into his radio.

She looked over at the young man again. Boy, really; she heard him say "Nineteen" when the officer asked. Cute, still, but younger by two years, and his face had gone pinched and evasive … No fairy-tales-come-true today.

She dug in the car for a pen, then put the form on the hood and wrote. Name, address, license number, VIN, insurance policy … etcetera, etcetera. The cop took the white layer from her, handed back the pink … the yellow went to the boy. She stared at the pink page for a moment, fluttering idly in the light breeze, then sighed and folded it into her pocket. Mustn't lose that.

"Well, you see, I’m not carrying my insurance card…" the boy began, as the cop went for his form.

The cop narrowed his eyes. "Why is that?" he asked, in a stern voice, calling up vague memories of "TOP COPS". The 'Duracell Show', her brother called it, for reasons varied and obscure.

"Well, it’s my grandfather’s truck, and I was on my way to get the insurance from my grandfather…"

"Can we call them and check?" the cop asked, at least as nonplused as she.

"Well, he’s in an operation at the hospital, for another hour or so…"

The officer just shook his head, and split up the form, insurance line blank. "Now, I have to give you these tickets for breaking right of way, and for failure to carry proof of insurance…"

She sighed, rubbing the hood with her thumb. Probably uninsured motorist, then; two hundred deductible out of her pocket. Miles, reams of paperwork, not to mention a trip to the mechanic.

No, no fairy tales today.


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