By Ericka Foote
After it happened, she could see the dust particles dropping onto the pooling blood in the street. Her estimation was a good twelve ounces—gathering itself around bits of rock and leaves, soaking slowly into the earth, giving off a sweet metallic odor that she almost found comforting. For a moment she contemplated the benefits human blood might have to the nutrients in the soil.
He was, unfortunately, still alive. The compound fracture on his right leg was the most obvious injury, but there were some additional wounds, albiet none harmful enough to be death-inducing. The bone protruded from the flesh at an unnatural angle. It made her think of sculpture. Although it looked a bit gruesome, she knew that with a minimal amount of medical attention he would recover. His bicycle, however, was done for. It lay about thirty yards away, in disrepair, on the center-line.
Josephine thought about what needed to be done. Step one: call an ambulance. It sounded so simple at first but, she would probably be up most of the night dealing with insurance and police reports. Who knew if the man would choose to press charges later on? If so, the process could take months and expenses might get out of hand. It would be so easy to just leave him there. She figured someone would eventually find him. Possibly even get him to a hospital in time to save his life. But who could tell at this point how much he would remember?. It could cause complications later. She checked her watch; 9:30pm. Even though she had no particular place to be, she still wanted to get home and relax, maybe work on her painting. She chose to take the risk and leave him. The bike did need to be moved out of the road though. Occasional cars were passing by, and it was a hazard, sitting there like that. She was lucky the man was thrown to the side of the road. It would have been a hassle to move him. Either none of the drivers noticed what was going on, or they just didn’t care about the object obscuring a good third of the road. She couldn’t blame them. She knew that she would have paid no attention either. Besides, their disinterest worked out just fine for her.
The front wheel had disconnected from the rest of the bike, and she walked over to remove both pieces from the road. With the wheel in one hand and the bent-up frame dragging in the other, she returned to the man still lying on the embankment. One of the spokes sticking out of the wheel tore a hole in her sweater, and she was reminded of how much she disliked cyclists. She took this rural road home to avoid traffic, but it offered the distinct disadvantage of the occasional cyclist. This one caused her particular annoyance. Really, he hadn’t been sharing the road, as his kind so often preached. If anyone had been around, they would have seen that he had clearly strayed from the designated bike lane.
He was mumbling incoherently now. Again, she worried about him identifying her to authorities. She felt the sharp tip of the spoke. Absentmindedly she began bending the metal back and forth while she pondered her dilemma. The time was about a quarter ’till. Cars were still passing by every once and again. Still, nobody stopped. The spoke broke off in her hand. She lifted her arm to throw the thing away from her, then stilled. A simple solution dawned in her mind with perfect clarity.
She brought the spoke down with all the force she could muster, forcing it into the man’s ear canal. It made more noise than she had anticipated. Her hand lost grip and slipped a few inches down the thin piece of metal. The thing was only inserted a few inches and she was not satisfied that she had achieved the amount of damage necessary. So, she recovered her grip and made a second attempt. Surprisingly, he didn’t put up much of a fight. Maybe he had lost too much blood; he was looking awfully pale. His hand reached up in a feeble attempt to stop her, but he lost consciousness and it fell away, wiping a smear of blood on her dress as it did. She mentally kicked herself for wearing white. Rarely did she ever wear such light colors, and here was a prime example why. The last time she had worn white, it had been with a group of friends who had cleverly gotten semi-matching white outfits to wear out clubbing. But some loud, drunk girl spilled sangria all down the front of her, and the night was ruined. Once again, here she was, making the wrong wardrobe choice. Now, stopping off anywhere on the way home was out of the question. Or maybe she could just explain away the red smear. It really didn’t look like blood.
She checked the depth of insertion on the spoke. A slight smile edged onto her face. It was pretty far in there. Even better, there was no need to wait around; while her mind had been wandering, her problem had stopped breathing. Some blood had leaked out of his ear and it was such a lovely shade of deep red. She made a mental note to buy lipstick in that color.