an accident

The sound of human body hitting metal is like….metal hitting metal.

Two weeks ago, I was in a taxi going to meet friends for my belated birthday dinner. I got in, strapped in my seatbelt, and we drove off. I looked out the window for a few minutes, to make sure traffic was flowing. We started down the main stretch that is King’s Road and it looked like smooth sailing.

I had my head down texting my friends when there was a loud bang and we suddenly braked. My chest pressed into my seatbelt as I looked up. A light-coloured object briefly appeared in my line of sight, just in front and to the right of the hood and then it disappeared.

Traffic continued to flow on our left and right. I think we were in the middle lane. The driver sat there staring out in front of him. He says, oh shit oh shit oh shit.

I looked around and I don’t see anything. Why have we stopped? We need to get going. I’m running late. Then I realise that our hood is completely beat up. We must’ve hit a bin. It sounded like we hit a bin. What else could’ve caused such a wreck?

The driver just sat there staring out.

What did we hit?

A man, he says without looking at me.

What!

He didn’t answer.

We both sat there.

I looked out the windows to my left and right. I see crowds have gathered behind the railings on the sidewalk, looking our way. I turned around in my seat, traffic was still coming at us. Do I get out?

I strained my neck. I tried to look out the front windscreen. I don’t see anything.

I was afraid to look down at the ground through my side windows. What would I see? Where was the man?

Every other person in the crowds seem to be on their phone now. Good. Someone had to be calling the police.

The driver got out. He told me to stay in the car. He walked out in front of the car. He was looking down but he just stood there. Why isn’t he helping him?

A man ran out into the road towards us. He was holding out a badge. Good. He must be an off-duty police officer.

At some point, I got out of the car. The men rummage through the guy’s bag and wallet. They must be trying to find someone to call or find out his name. But no one helps him. He laid there on his right side, a few meters away from the taxi, his face turned towards the car. A pool of blood was coming out from his head. I looked down at the ground where I stood and saw bits and pieces of glass, a phone cover. One of his shoes came off. I think blood was coming out of his nose.

But the men just stood there. Why isn’t anyone helping him?

The driver apologised to me, and pleaded with me to stay to prove that he didn’t do anything wrong. I said it’s ok. I don’t mind staying until the police get here, but I really didn’t see anything, I’d make a poor witness. I had my head down on my phone.

He says the man just ran out into the road out of nowhere. We weren’t at a crossing. He apparently just bolted out of nowhere. While we were waiting for the police (where are they?), a man tried to cross the road at precisely where we were standing. Seriously? There’s an accident, a man lay on the ground in blood right in front of you and you want to cross the road right there? I was incredulous. He was shooed away back where he came from. He grinned. WTF.

The driver says I should get back in the car. I got in. The sound stayed with me. The sound of a car and human body colliding is astoundingly loud. It’s a very loud bang. Like metal on metal. I always thought of the human body as something soft. How is a person able to wreck the front of the taxi and break the lights?

The police got there first. Good. They must know how to help him right? They ran around. Some started talking to the driver. Some redirected traffic. Some spoke to the people standing on the sidewalk. But they mostly ignored the man on the ground. They did take a look at him, but why weren’t they helping him? Suddenly, I thought, he must be dead, that’s why they’re not doing anything. I felt sick.

I was out of the car again, speaking to the police. The ambulance got there. I watched. I wanted them to help him. Because if they do something, it means he’s still alive. They flipped him over to put the collar on his neck. That’s good news. But that also showed the side of his face that was previously on the ground. There was no face. It was just a mush of black and red. I felt awful again. But he was alive. That’s good.

Eventually, the police let me go. They wanted me to stay there until the traffic division arrives to take a formal statement, but I had friends waiting. I wanted to go. They had all my contacts so they said ok, they might call me later on.

For the next few days, I was wary of cabs, I was wary of crossing the road. I refused to cross at red lights, even if there are no cars for miles around. I heard the bang and I saw the man and his face. I was consoled by the fact that he was alive. He must be, because the paramedics were there. They didn’t have to do CPR, so he must be fine. I imagined him lying in the hospital, his face bandaged up like a mummy, but he must be fine, because his family and friends are there, they’re probably mad he tried to cross the road like that, but he’s fine so that’s all that matters.

I went back to work, someone was talking about some traffic accident and I realised one of the guys at the office rolled by the scene of accident about a minute after it happened and saw everything. He watched the news that night and the next day. He says the man was 68 years old and he died. I felt like throwing up all over again. I later found out that most people knew that he died, but no one told me. I imagined that he was ok, to make myself feel better, and everyone just let me believe it. But he died.

Be safe. It’s not worth it.

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