Crash on Freedom

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
From Stranger Things Happen, my book of 76 overlapping flash fiction stories inspired by original street photography. Available on Amazon in all global markets.

Submitted: February 08, 2016

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Submitted: February 08, 2016



“Look, if you do that again, you’re off the bird,” the suited man said into the phone.

“What?” I can’t hear you. The blades . . .” the person on the other end of the phone replied.

“IF YOU DO THAT AGAIN, JUSTIN, YOU’RE OFF THE BIRD,” the suited man screamed.

“Off the bird? Are you serious?” Justin replied.

“I’m not saying it again. No one cares about the people. They just want the traffic report. They just want to know how it’s going to affect them. Everyone only cares about themselves, Justin,” the suited man said.

“But people are traffic, Bill,” Justin said, biting each word. “It affects them because it is them. Or it could be. Don’t you see? We’ve been doing it all wrong. If they don’t hear the stories about the people, then nothing will ever change. Behavior will never change. Unavoidable accidents will never end. People will keep dying, Bill. You want that blood on your hands?”

“You’re over the line, Justin,” Bill replied. “I’m not kidding you. You do it again, you’re not only off the bird, you’re out of a job. Okay, now, get on the air.”

“Good morning, Atlanta,” Justin said in his distinct on-air voice. “This is Justin Johnson, your eye in the sky. We’ve got backups on 285 East at Spaghetti Junction, a jackknifed tracker trailer on the west side on the ramp to I-75, and the usual delays heading into downtown. But this just in, there’s a new crash on Freedom Parkway, and I got eyes on the ground on that one.

Don’t do it, Justin, I’m warning you, Bill muttered to himself while listening to the report.

“I got Teneka Marcus with me. She just tweeted about this accident. She saw the whole thing. A truck hit a motorcyclist. He’s lying in the street. He is surrounded by a series of good Samaritans trying to help him. Teneka, what’s going on?”

“I just called 911, Justin, and my hands still shakin',” Teneka said, her voice cracking. “This boy done nothin' wrong. That truck driver was on his cell phone. I saw him. And he didn’t see the motorcycle and plowed right into it. This boy flew right into my car and landed on the ground. His motorcycle splayed right out on the road like, like . . . a dead ‘possum. People slammed on their brakes, jumped out of their cars and raced over. Total strangers. We don’ even know each other’s names. We waitin' for the ambulance and we prayin' for this boy. We need everyone to be prayin' for this boy. He’s breathin' but he’s not sayin' anything. Please ask people to pray for him.”

“Thank you, Teneka. Sounds like a real life-or-death moment down there,” Justin said. “Can you describe the person who was hit?"

Teneka stood there in the middle of the road and shook her head, although Justin didn't see that, of course. Then she said, "No, I don’ even know if he black or white, young or old. He's just a guy, or at least I think he is. When you see someone get hit like that, you start to think maybe that could be any of us, out drivin' or walkin' or ridin' a bike. Maybe we all vulnerable. Maybe we all at risk, just by livin' out here in public. Maybe we all just the same, you know?" 

Justin thanked her again, and then his voice changed from the trained even-toned broadcasting school banter. “Sorry for the inconvenience, those who are stuck in traffic on Freedom. Sorry you can’t go where you want to go as fast as you want to get there. Sorry you can’t avoid the cold, hard truth about what happens when someone doesn’t pay attention or when someone is in a rush. Sorry you lost your freedom this morning. You’re also going to lose your denial. You are traffic. You are killing people. You are crashing the freedom of our society.”

“Justin, get off! Get him off the air now,” Bill screamed to the control room at the radio station.

Meanwhile, at the corner of Freedom Parkway and Boulevard, where a small crowd gathered around a man lying on the ground next to his motorcycle, a woman in a car put down her cell phone, put both hands together, and started to pray.

© Copyright 2019 Pattie Baker. All rights reserved.

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