I suppose I was driving too fast while zooming left around a big turn on top of the mountains. It was a cold, moonless night, and the head beams illuminated only a few feet of the winding dirt road in front of the black Jeep.
I saw the turn approaching and cut my wheels to the left accordingly, but there must have been a malfunction in the axle. It was as if I simply did not turn the wheel sharp enough. The car simply refused to stay on the bumpy road and wanted to take a wider angle. It happened all at once and in slow motion. The car seemed to take on a conscience of its own, and with a daredevil instinct, gracefully catapulted up a smooth, sloped dirt mound into the sky fifteen feet away from the edge of the cliff.
I was airborne in the flying car. The vehicle did not tumble, but remained in an upright position like an airplane. It must have been a dream, for anyone else would have screamed, or said a silent prayer, or rapidly played the movie of their life in their minds. I guess I felt there was no need to worry about any of these things and that one cannot always choose his or her fate.
Although I could not even see my own hands, the automobile must have began it’s rapid descent into the dark abyss. The engine was silent, and there was no whoosh of air, like a parachutist must hear as he descends from an airplane. The headlights were useless, and were not able to cut through the thick blackness. Although I could have been falling at the speed of light, I felt motionless in the womb of the car. If this were indeed a dream, I could alter my fate by simply opening the door and soaring safely to the ground with outstretched arms. Instead I froze in time, and began a free fall as everything vanished.
I did not feel the G-force of gravity pull me towards the ground, and I probably could have been easily persuaded that I was hovering motionless or flying straight ahead instead of down. Several seconds passed. Surely the car had reached terminal velocity. In considering the downward speed and the closeness of the ground, I was sure the great impact was near. Ground Zero was soon approaching. The car was now a bomb, and seconds away from detonation.
Carmen and my two daughters flashed in my brain. Perhaps it was for a millisecond, but it was long enough to forward the scene where we all played like kids on that street trolley in San Francisco. Patricia and Micky hung from the side bars like it was a flying electric bus. I remembered the hilarious moment when our dog Grizzly got tangled in Carmen’s freshly laundered undergarments.
I could not tell if my eyes were opened or closed. The only thing familiar was the wheel in my grasp, but I knew that steering the car left or right would not change my destiny.
Then I felt my body slanting sharply to the side. The heater was on high and my breathing became difficult. I felt surrounded by an evil consciousness. Surely I would have hit bottom by now. Surely there was another cliff or tree branch to scrape against. Can one really fall from the top of a mountain to the bottom without colliding against a protruding rock? Is there such a thing as a straight drop from a mountain? Even a snow skier will tumble as he falls.
“Stop!” I screamed, then slammed the brake pedal. I felt my seatbelt tug sharply at my shoulder.
“Michael, wake up,” Carmen said. “It’s Saturday! We better leave early if we want to drive to the mountains before dark.”
Written by Diamond Mike Watson
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