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Thursday, April 9, 2015

"H" is for "Hit-and-Run Accident"

Welcome to the continuation of the A-Z Challenge!

My theme revolves around the soon-to-be published memoir I wrote for opera singer, Donald Braswell.
"H" is for "Hit-and-Run."

This pivotal scene from REVIVAL: The Donald Braswell Story leads to the hit-and-run accident that changed Donald's life forever.

Cardiff, Wales. 1995
Like a siren, the Raleigh calls my name.
I need her, and she understands my needs. Swinging my right leg over the racer’s frame, I relish the simple challenge of clipping my bike shoes to the pedals without either foot touching the ground. Winning the balance test today, I push off and build speed, moving through the village side streets as I merge onto the main road to Cardiff. The bike’s a loaner, and I’m a loner. We’re both free, and it’s a great day.

Donald Braswell (circa 1995)

As a cool wind snakes its way through my jacket, I think about the Welsh National Opera’s production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and our upcoming final two performances. I’m thirty-two, healthy and my career has as much momentum as the bike beneath me. I perform Pinkerton—the lead tenor—to standing ovations. The possibilities—and the potential—power my adrenalin.

I press down on the pedals and a satisfying burst of speed rewards me. This is my time. I exit a traffic circle (roundabout the locals call it. Scary is a better word, what with everyone driving the wrong way) heading in the general direction of England and my goal, the city of Penzance in Cornwall, one hundred forty miles distant. I see a bridge with metal guardrails coming up.  A white car appears in the distance. Back and forth, it gently weaves across the two-lane road, like the weight in a grandfather clock.

Wow, this guy must’ve started early this morning, or never stopped drinking from last night. My heart rate quickens as does my pace. Stop now? Fly across the bridge? Too slow to make a decision, the wheels bump over the metal edge and I’m on the bridge. I hate going backward in anything I do, so the escape route is the end of the bridge, about a hundred yards away. My athleticism moves the bike into “full speed ahead” mode. I’ll beat this drunk, maneuver the bike off to the side, watch him go by and offer a few choice words.

My heart pounds, but I control my breath. The car, a white sedan, is closer. How fast is he going? It shudders and straightens back into its own lane. Is he in control now? The end of the bridge is only fifty yards away. I exhale all the air in my lungs and push again, but with much less angst. I’m going to make it.

I clear the bridge with about twenty yards to spare. Leaning back on the Raleigh, I take a deep breath and look to the side for a good spot to stop. Too steep here. Little bit further? There. The grade’s not so steep. Whoa, is that a buried pipe? Watch the pipe! Where’s the car? I snap a look and see the sedan swerve again over the faded, white broken center line. He’s coming directly toward me. On instinct, I turn the front wheel, curse and brace for the head-on hit.

Seconds before impact, the driver’s eyes widen. Hasn’t he seen me this whole time? His arms turn the wheel. It’s something—enough to save my life—as it’s his side of the car and my bicycle that meet in a grossly unfair battle.
The show must go on, I repeat, repeat and repeat. The lights dim.
Fade to grey.
Show’s over.


Tomorrow: "I" is for "Internet"


Elephant's Child said...

H is also for heinous. Both drunk driving and the cowardice of not taking responsibility for the action which could so easily have detroyed a man's life.

Tammy Theriault said...

My adrenaline would be raging. Wow!

Nick Wilford said...

Man, that is despicable. I hope they caught the perpetrator. I thought Donald was Welsh when I started reading this, but it became clear that was wrong. The Welsh are powerful singers though, for sure!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Awful. To only see someone when it's too late, and then to run away... despicable.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a horrible person to run after hitting someone. Coward.

Dani said...

These types of things horrifies me. Like what is going on inside this persons head to make them just run?!

Suzi said...

Wow. To see all that coming and not being able to do anything. That would be horrible.

Anonymous said...

I hope they caught that man!

Jeremy [Retro] said...

Arghhhh... some people and then other people!

Jeremy [Retro]
AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

Anonymous said...

Frightening! They should make all vehicles with built-in breathalyzers.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

The more terrifying for being a true story. Felt like I was helplessly watching an accident about to happen.

Tamara Narayan said...

This is compelling yet hard to read at the same time. So many what-ifs.

Tamara Narayan said...

This is compelling yet hard to read at the same time. So many what-ifs.

Lisa said...

This took me by surprise. Not the hit and run part, but leading up to that. So very well done, well written. Sucked up, I couldn't tear my eyes away, even though I knew what the ending had to be... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

Jo said...

Dreadful experience for Donald. Despicable behaviour for the driver. I didn`t realise it had happened in the UK. I take it the cops couldn`t find the driver.

quietspirit said...

It's by the grace of God that Donald even survived. I want to know more.

Pat Hatt said...

Can't even imagine the experience. Knowing it's coming and them wham. Always a what if

~Brandy~ said...

You have a unique and intelligent writing style. Memoirs are one of my favourite genres. All the best with yours!
Brandy from Brandy's Bustlings
P.S. You'll find "Open Doors" under "O" - but I do not have clear someone's fast food trays for them on my list! Good one - thanks!

Cinderella K said...

Drunk drivers must be ashamed for their act and the cowardice of not taking responsibility for the action which could so easily have destroyed someone’s life. One must never drink and drive. My brother works with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer and have told me that how it can ruin everything that you have.

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