Monday, March 8, 2010


Car accidents in small towns are nothing new, but they do make local news. I remember one in particular in the small town of Lampasas in the early seventies. One was where a teenage boy had a fight with his girlfriend one night and on his way home to the town of Lometa crashed his car head on into a tree on the side of the road killing him instantly. He had a red Plymouth Duster and when it was towed to the local impound lot cars were lined up around the block to view the mangled wreckage through the chain link fence. There were rumors that he’d committed suicide because of the argument with the girl, some said he was drunk, some just said he must’ve fallen asleep at the wheel. None the less, it was sad and tragic for a young man to loose his life in such a manner.

Not long after that my brother Danny wrecked his car. We were barely scraping by and he only had liability insurance on it, so when my dad, who was the night sergeant on the Lampasas Police Department dropped him off at our little pizza place and told me to watch him in case he went into shock I was really pissed. He was in a residential area of town and had jumped the curb and driven the car across a vacant lot into a tree head on totaling his red 1966 Mustang.

We were living in our trailer on my grandparent’s farm and had to drive sixteen miles each way. This was during the first oil embargo and it was costing us a fortune just to get to work and back. I asked, “So, what are you going to drive now?” “I’ll drive mother’s Mercury.” he said. Then I was really pissed, I had to drive my old beat up 1967 Thunderbird and beg for gas money although I was working for my mother and he was going to get to drive a better car than I did. I was so furious that I reached for the phone to call mother to tell her what he’d done. Just as I did I realized we hadn’t had our phone connected yet and as I hung up the receiver I pictured myself walking down the hall to my parent’s bedroom flipping on the light and saying, “Danny wrecked his car.” My mother asking, “Is he alright?” “Yes, but his car is totaled.” I just knew she’d be as furious as I was he was constantly tearing things up, and since he was on the football team he didn’t have an after school job. Once he’d pissed someone off at school and they broke all the windows in his Mustang. I had to go around to the wrecking yards and find used glass to replace it with, my mother paid for it and a friend of his installed it, while he sat on the porch and watched. He always had some strange ability to get people to do things for him. He never had to lift a finger to get someone to do his bidding. While I was busy chewing his ass out he just sat and stared into space. I’d made him a Coke and he took a few sips and said, “Someone jerked the wheel out of my hand and drove that car into that tree.” “What do you mean someone jerked the wheel out of your hand, who was in the car with you?” I asked. “No one.” he said. “Well, if no one was with you, then how could someone jerk the wheel out of your hand?” I asked. “I’m telling you that’s what happened. I was just driving down the street and someone jerked the wheel out of my hand and drove the car into that tree.” he said. I told him, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of, no one’s going to believe that crock of shit. Who was it, a ghost?” “Maybe.” he said. “You know that new girl I had the date with tonight?” I said, “Not really, why?” “Well she’s the girl that kid who got killed last month was dating the night he crashed his car into that tree on his way home.” He said. That gave me chills, my brother was pretty much a no nonsense kind of guy and wasn’t apt to make something like that up.

That wasn’t the only strange occurrence of the evening. When we drove home after I’d shut down the restaurant my mother was waiting up for us and said she knew about the wreck. I asked her, “How did you know what happened when the phone isn’t even connected?” She said, “Your grandfather drove down here and told me, but I already knew about it.” “How did you know?” I asked. “You came down the hall and told me.” she said. “What do you mean I came down the hall and told you?” I asked. “Just that, I was almost asleep and you walked into my room and told me that Danny had wrecked his car. I asked you if he was alright and you said yes, but his car was totaled. I couldn’t go to sleep after that and when I heard a car pull up and a door slam I thought it was one of you boys getting home, but there was a knock on the door and it was your grandfather who told me. I wasn’t upset at all because you’d already told me he was alright.” She said. I’ve asked her about that several times through the years, was it a dream and was she asleep? She’s always just said, “You came down the hall and told me.”

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