It’s cold and there’s fog trying to lift off the ground again. The fog rose Monday morning and took everything with it. There were no landmarks, no lights, nothing but the front of the truck and everything within three meters in front of it. And fog. If you’ve ever wondered how fish see in murky water they do not. Other senses have to prevail and we humans are sight based creatures or we are nothing. Mostly, we ignore everything that doesn’t reflect light and we dismiss those creatures who use their entire arrays of perceptions. I’ve learned more by watching my dogs as they use their hearing than I ever could have reading about it. Lucas’ intentional and dramatic sternutations aside I also trust his nose more than I do my eyesight in the woods.
But in the fog there is nothing. We humans have finally developed a system as to be totally dependent on sight and then found a way to go so fast as to outrun our ability to see. Hurtling in near blindness and in the dark, humans in vehicles kill one another on a very regular basis and curse the darkness and the fog. Lawyers sue one party or the other, or some government entity yet there is a little that can be done with headlights and speed when it comes to thick fog and darkness except hope it doesn’t cause you to kill someone or someone to kill you.
That was Monday, and the last two mornings fog has not gotten out of bed, totally, still tired from having to push mounds of floating water all over the main part of South Georgia. I’m a little twitchy about Monday morning; someone wrecked on I-75 in the fog and it’s more than a small miracle that more people weren’t killed. Of course, I heard there was someone walking in the fog along the Interstate but I haven’t been able to track it down. Suicide by traffic is more common than most people believe it is. Those lacking guns or poison and just simply tired of being alive have only to walk that white line until a truck or a car crosses it. The human body is incredibly frail when being struck by metal at high speed. It’s like jumping off a very tall building and landing on a car’s grill. Last year a man stood on the side of the Interstate until whatever it was kicked in and he leapt in front of a semi. It’s more certain than a bullet to the head. It’s a lot more sure than overdose. And it is a lot more messy than suicide by cop.
Just because you aren’t thinking about killing yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t headed in that direction fast. Driving in fog without caution is a lot like playing with a loaded gun in the dark while in a crowded room. But that was Monday and this morning the fog flirted with trying to kill some folk but it slept in. On the way to work I take a side road off a side road and the air is full of blue lights and yellow lights and I know someone has done something very strange.
Cops know me. I’ve been around for a while. I’m out early in the morning, up before the sun, and I never speed. I’m famous for how carefully I drive, really, and they like it. But someone else was not so careful; on a fairly straight road someone took a hard left turn into some woods. The truck was being pulled out as I got there. A tree had stopped the truck cold, as trees will stop a vehicle cold. The driver survived with very minor injuries but as the guy in the wrecker told me, “Drunker than I have ever been at four in the morning.” The Cops grin but make no comment on the case. Still, the aroma of cheap alcohol creates its own fog. Sharp, acrid, and unmistakable, wherever this man started from he ended here, with this odor. The scent of the early morning and woods is gone. There is nothing natural about what occurred here at all. There is a lack of the spiritual here and it has been replaced by distilled spirit. Had it occurred an hour later I would have been in the path of this person.
It’s amazing they can get the truck out of where it was. A tree stopped it but not before it came to rest with the front tired partially in water. One less tree and the man might have made it into the flooded area and had his final drink. Had he hit the massive Oak to the right of where he went in he might have been killed outright. The say the gods look after drunks and fools so he might have qualified for double protection. That Oak would have stopped him more suddenly than his body could have endured unless he was wearing a seat belt. One of the cops there told me that he saw it happen; the man made a turn where no turn existed. I would love to know how it looked as he went in and at what point his brain started screaming about it, or if this was a form of suicide.
The wrecker pulls the corpse of the truck out of the woods and the damage is significant. The front of the truck is smashed and the side look like he might have pinballed between a couple of trees. The damage to the man’s life will also be impressive. He could have hired a helicopter to pick him up and drop him off with what he will face in fines now. Somewhere, however, in the deep dark recesses of this human being’s mind, I think he tried to kill himself. That’s something that he’s got to reconcile with his next drink or head down the same path.
The cops and I talk shop and as the wrecker pulls the truck away we drift off. None of us say it out loud but I think they know it too; we’ll see this man in the woods again, stopped cold by something unmoving. If he wants out bad enough he will find a way out. I just wonder what it would take to make him want to live again.