A Secret Grave 153: Periphery

 

Before Joe could finish his story, the two boys came into the house from the studio where they’d been talking about plans to develop a money-making application for people to assess when their dogs or cats were in pain. They were very excited, speaking so fast it was hard to understand them (well, the jargon they used made it hard to understand them anyway). Since Nash lived in the quaint town of Boerne, ninety miles from Austin, and was a new driver, their meetings would take some organization. And, I thought, would cause Lynn and Joe to have more contact than they had anticipated.

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Boerne, Texas, b r e n t, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Everyone shook hands or hugged goodbye, and it wasn’t till they were gone that I realized I still didn’t know about the tragedy that had befallen Joe and his girlfriend Anna years before. I asked Ramona to find out what had happened from her buddy, Lloyd. Here’s what I learned: Anna had a singing engagement in a bar in Amherst, Massachusetts on a cold Friday night in January, 1981 and Joe had driven her. The event was a great success, with beautiful Anna’s sweet voice rising like a banner above the cigarette smoke and clinking glasses of the guests. Joe had a few beers while they were there, but not enough to affect his judgment. Anna had done a line of coke before she stepped up to the mic, and afterward she may have had a little bit of marijuana, but her head was pretty clear. When they left the bar they took a moment to hug each other while staring up at the black, starlit sky and exclaiming how lucky they were to be together with a fabulous future ahead of them, a life of song and wonder. Then they got in their car. Joe’s vision was still good at the time. Or at least he thought it was, because the changes in his sight were happening so slowly that he practically didn’t notice them. A little blurriness at the periphery of his vision. A sensitivity to light. Occasional difficulty making out objects at night – dark buildings against a dark sky would have all blended into one for Joe.

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Retinitis pigmentosa by Christian Hamel, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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On that particular night, driving his 1977 Chevy Camaro down Route 90, not going terribly fast, the heater blasting hot air over their faces and fogging the windows, Joe felt perfectly fine until they hit a dark patch of road where the car went into a skid and spun out of control. After that things grew blurry. He heard Anna scream. He was aware of the car flipping over. He felt the explosion in his chest as he was flung against the steering wheel. He sensed with his whole body the brutal crash of metal and asphalt, guard rail, frozen earth. And in his heart he knew, even as he began to lose consciousness, that Anna was gone, and it was his fault.

 

To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-8639542-stock-footage-vehicle-is-on-empty-night-road-winter-driving-through-the-dark-and-snow.html

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