As most of you know, last March I was in a rollover with my father in-law. I never did get a picture of the truck afterwards. But I did end up just writing a narrative about the accident for a school paper. I’m currently going to school to become a Paramedic. So I thought maybe I would share what I wrote with you all.
-On a side note, book 3 in the Z Plan series is coming along nicely. I’m very excited for book one and two to come out this summer under Permuted Press.
What woke me up was the electric hum my alarm clock makes before it goes off. I reluctantly climbed out of my warm, comfy bed to shut it off. I’d injured my left shoulder at work a few days before and consequently missed those days.
“Why did we ever leave Lincoln?” Brooke, my wife, asked from our bed.
I didn’t answer as I rubbed my shoulder. The last summer had been a nightmare. Within a three-week period we’d moved from Nebraska to Texas then to Iowa, which caused an obvious financial strain. My mother-in-law had enough room to help us. I had gotten a job working for her husband, my wife’s stepfather, at a feedlot. A considerable step down from working in EMS.
“I miss being in an ambulance,” I stated.
“I know babe,” she said with a frown, “you should go back to school.”
I knew she was right, but there just wasn’t any time. My main goal was to make enough money to get back on our feet. It didn’t help that I had let my national certification expire, limiting me to only working in Nebraska. Quickly, I put my work clothes on and hurried downstairs. Steve was already on his way out. Things in the house had been tense because they thought I was faking my shoulder injury.
“Oh you’re working today?” he said in disbelief.
Part of me wanted to say no, but I thought I had to prove something. My gut told me I had to go today.
“Yeah,” I replied, “I figured you could use some help.”
He didn’t say anything as he walked out the front door. The sun wasn’t even up yet as I followed into the freezing March air. His silver pickup sat in the snow covered driveway. I jumped up into the passenger seat and closed the door. The cab was barely warm, and I could still see my breath. He’d probably only remote started it a few minutes ago. The radio clock read 5:34 p.m. Steve never took the time to correct it as long as the hour and minute was right.
“I’ll have you walk pens and break ice on waters,” he said as he climbed into the truck, “If you can manage that.”
“Should be fine,” I answered rolling my eyes.
I reached back for the seatbelt with my left arm but couldn’t move it across my body. I cursed myself as I switched to my right arm. As my belt clicked, I noticed Steve hadn’t put his belt on. Part of me was going to say something, but I refrained. He put the truck in reverse, and I stared up at the stars as we backed out of the driveway.
“Matt is gonna be hauling cobs today,” reported Steve, “So just get the pens and the ice, and we’ll leave when I get done feeding.”
“Okay,” I yawned.
We drove down the dark empty streets of town. It was early enough that not even The Creamery was open yet. Steve hammered down on the gas as we turned onto old highway 6. For a moment we were motionless, then shot forward like a wind up toy. The back end wasn’t weighed down.
“Roads are bad this morning,” observed Steve as we followed 6 out of town.
“I think the town relies on farmers with tractors to clear their roads,” I speculated.
“Maybe,” he replied.
The narrow beam of the headlights confirmed the hazardous condition of the road, but despite the slick conditions Steve drove as if they were clear. As we passed by the baseball field I couldn’t help but think about how warm summer was going to be. After a year in Iraq, I didn’t tolerate the winter well. We were coming up to the creek, the very place I’d almost slid into the ditch the last time we had a heavy snow.
The pickup popped up as it made contact with the bridge. For the three seconds we were on the bridge I thought maybe the roads weren’t as bad as I’d thought. But then we reached the other side—.
The back end of the truck started to come around us. Steve locked up the breaks and attempted to steer us back into a straight line. For a second it worked, but then we were careening toward the ditch on the right.
“Hold on!” Steve shouted.
I was silent as I braced myself into my seat and watched the telephone poles slide by in the headlights. The truck rotated one hundred-eighty degrees. We were now backwards and still heading for the ditch. We dropped down the slope and the first pole barely missed our bumper. I was about to let out a sigh of relief but then the tires on Steve’s side caught a rut.
“Mikhail!” he shouted.
His side impacted the ground and his body was thrown into me. Steve awkwardly tried to maintain his grip on the steering wheel. Fighting the pain, I raised my left hand to protect my face as my right arm was planted on the roof of the vehicle. The windshield shattered and we were both thrown toward the roof. It crumpled in and I struck my head squarely on top.
“Mikhail! Mikhail! Mikhail!” Steve continued to yell as we rolled back to my side.
The truck came to a halt passenger side down. Steve’s full 340 pounds was on me. Disorientation set in when I realized that my window was gone and I was in snow. I pushed Steve off of me and went for my seatbelt release. My left hand made contact with the mechanism. I could feel pain but it was dull. I immediately realized that I was in shock, and the adrenaline had helped relieve some of my pain.
“Mikhail!” screamed Steve.
“I’m good,” I forced myself to say calmly.
The cold air rushed into the openings where the windows had been. Steve was trying to get himself up as I gathered my bearings. He fell down, much like a toddler would when learning to walk. Once I was standing, I realized I could still hear the engine running. I located the steering wheel by my head and turned off the ignition. The hood was folded up and blocked our way out of the windshield. I turned my attention to the back window. It was broken but some of it remained. I kicked out the rest and jumped out. My leg caught the seatbelt and I fell onto the snow.
“Fuck,” I hissed.
There was a large piece of glass sticking out of my left hand. Without thinking I pulled the shard out.
“Mikhail!” Steve yelled again from inside the cab.
“Hold on,” I assured him as I reached back in for him.
He was heavy but I didn’t care. Somehow I managed to pull his full weight out of the truck and drag him clear of the truck. My EMS and Army training kicked in. I made sure that if the truck rolled back he wouldn’t be under it.
“Mikhail I can’t breath!” he screamed.
“You’re yelling,” I said, “that’s a good sign. Just keep talking to me Steve. I’m going to call 911.”
My bloody hands stained my smartphone as I navigated the menus. Due to shock I ended up calling my mother-in-law instead. Steve’s pleas turned to screams of agony.
“Call 911,” I ordered her before she could ask what I wanted, “We just rolled the truck about a mile east of town.”
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed, “Are you okay?”
“Steve is hurt bad Sherrie,” I said bluntly, “Just get us an ambulance.”
Before she could say anything else I hung up the phone. I looked around for the first time. The sun was starting to come up in the east, and two sets of headlights were coming up the road. I shivered as the wind blew. My first thought was to get Steve’s coat to keep him warm. I crawled back into the truck and retrieved it. As I draped it over him his screams became more intense.
“Don’t!” he barked, “It’s too heavy.”
He had rolled to the right side of his body.
“Can you lay flat?” I asked.
“No. I can’t breath!” he yelled.
“Okay. Just try and stay still,” I told him, “the ambulance is on the way.”
The adrenaline was beginning to wear off, and the pain was getting worse. I knew I was hurt—bad. I collapsed into the snow and stared at the sky. Occasionally I’d shiver.
“This is not what I had in mind when I said I missed being in an ambulance,” I whispered to myself.