Out of Control
PP watches in horror as Scraping Walker Woman’s Volvo lurches forward, out of control, at lightening speed, the engine gunning a horrific screeching. Over the curb, into the light post, the car comes to a halt, the tall pole vibrating back and forth from the impact. The car perches precariously on the embankment, the center of the old station wagon balancing on the curb between the upper and lower parking lots of the Hilltopia Y.
Shit. PP starts to run toward the accident. SWW must have hit the accelerator instead of the brakes. PP’s been wondering for years how SWW does it. She obviously has some sort of modification for the car so that she can operate it with her hands instead of her crippled legs. But yet, even so, PP has worried about just such an accident like the one she’s just witnessed. SWW’s coordination seems to be, at best, just a precarious as the Volvo’s balancing act right now.
A Compact Man in khaki shorts drops his gym bag into the open trunk of his car before rushing over to the scene, getting there way before PP. PP sees that SWW is talking to him, shaking her head, as he tries to help her out of the car.
“I’ll run for help!” she calls to them, before turning and heading back to the Welcome Center.
Damn, she thinks as she tries to pick up the pace. I can’t run for shit. Wish I were swimming instead to get help. That’d be hella faster. Swinging open the front door to the Y, she leans over the front desk.
“You all know H?” she interrupts two clerks deep in consultation over the computer screen.
“Sure,” Round Tall African American Youth nods, “she’s disabled.”
“Yeah, well, I hope she isn’t more so. She just had an accident in the parking lot. Drove right into the light post and.....” PP catches her breath as RTAAY takes charge, “Call 9-1-1” he instructs his co-worker before shooting past PP through the double door and out into the lot.
Why the hell didn’t she think of that? To call 9-1-1? It did not even occur to her. She blames the combination of her panic and phone phobia as she hurries after him.
He can run in spite of his solidness. And is there at the car well before PP.
As PP hurries after him; she slows as she approaches H’s situation. Then peers in.
H is rattled. Her glasses askew on her pale face. Her bright red lipstick smeared across her upper lip. Her eyes wide in agitation.
“Are you all right?” PP manages as she peers over Compact Man and AAY.
“I’m all right, I’m all right, I’m all right...” she repeats, her voice firm in spite of her shaking hands.
“Okay, well...” PP backs up. It does seem like she’s ok. Even though she’s understandably shook up.
Who wouldn’t be? But yet, PP realizes that such a near miss may be doubly horrific for H. Her crippled legs are a result of a botched surgery after a car accident. (At least this is what PP recalls overhearing many times in the locker-room.) So such a near miss as today’s must trigger all sorts of hellish memories.
Plus there’s the issue of her Independence. H is fiercely so. Whenever anyone in the locker-room asks if they can help her, she fires back: “I’m fine. I’m fine. Why does everyone think I need help?”
Maybe cuz you can barely walk and you’re grunting up a storm?
Yet PP gets it. Who wants to be asked if they’re okay over and over and over again? It must be so exhausting and frustrating.
So PP worries that with such an accident as today’s, she may not be able to drive herself, or even worse, she might have to ask for help to get to and from the pool after this.
Suddenly, PP hears the sirens. Lots of them. Then the fire truck, the ambulance, the police van and finally another ambulance all pile into the parking lot.
Wow. The city of Richmond comes through for H. But again PP worries that the police will take their report. Note how H couldn’t control her vehicle. And then pronounce her unfit to drive.
How horrific would that be for her?
PP knows that for H the pool at Hilltopia is her salvation. (As it is hers) That without this water workout, she’d be lost. Why she’d probably be relegated to sitting at home watching re-runs of Oprah if she couldn’t make it to Hilltopia. And while PP has heard she has a husband, she’s never seen any manifestation of said spouse. Wonders if, in fact, it’s true.
Why is this? It’s not like H couldn’t be married. But yet, there’s something odd about how he never is on the scene. Not even once has PP seen him bring H to Hilltopia.
PP wonders if he would. If it does turn out that H can’t drive anymore, will Ghost Hubby step up?
Pulling out of the lot, PP sees in her rearview mirror how the paramedics are helping H with her walker and how H is standing.
This is a good image to leave with.
A much better one than the one she began this story with: A battered old Volvo Station wagon, with a crazed looking woman at its helm, lurching scarily into the light post....out of control.