We were on our way to pick up Kira at her house in Huntersville. It was a five mile ride. It was the first time I had ridden with Ginger driving. And it was already being scary. She was speeding without controlling the car that well, and she was acting like the whole world needed to yield to her and her Honda Accord.
Never shy, but still polite, I said, "Ginger, do you mind slowing it down, you're scaring me just a little?" She said, "I think I know what I'm doing."
After another minute of her still driving uneccasarily aggressive, Holton got in her face from the passenger seat and screamed, "LOOK, YOU STUPID BITCH! YOU HAVE GOT TO SLOW DOWN! YOU AREN'T A GOOD ENOUGH DRIVER TO BE DOING ALL THIS CRAZY SHIT. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!"
She screamed back, "WHO'S THE ONE WITH THE LICENSE HERE? ME! I THINK I KNOW HOW TO DRIVE! DO YOU WANT TO GO PLAY VOLLEYBALL OR NOT?"
We wanted to go play volleball. Even if it meant riding with that bitch, Ginger. Man, nobody liked her! And we weren't exactly the most popular guys on Earth ourselves. I guess we somewhat deserved what we got for using her for a ride. Then again, not really. It was supposed to be a fair transaction: we got a ride, and she got to be in the company of Holton, who she obviously had a crush on. (Hey, I wonder if he was fooling around with her nasty ass and not telling people. They were alone a lot. Ooooohh! Grossss! He ended up being married twice by 21, but at least not to her.)
So the next five scary minutes passed with no injuries as he headed to Kira's. It was not fun though, because we had to put up with Ginger's attitude the whole way. Where did Ginger think she had such a right to that attitude? She wasn't cute. She wasn't charming. Her voice sounded like a man's. She would suck up to the devil. She even made me hate two things I normally love: curly hair and freckles. But she did have a license. The sad part is that me and Brian were better drivers than her, but we only had learner's permits.
So we get to Kira's and she was waiting outside her house. I loved me some her! I had only known her a few months since she moved down from West Virginia, but she was already my second favorite girl. That's why she loved and hated me. She loved that I adored her, but she hated knowing there was even one girl out there I liked better. Looking back, it was kind of rude of me to make that so obvious - I should've made both girls think they were number one.
I remember Kira having those really pretty squished together lips that made it look like she always wanted to make out. (She didn't always want to make out. She only let me do that once, while we were watching The Excorcist. WTF?) Those kind of lips can makes some girls look stupid and some girls look smart. Her lips made her look smart and snobby, even though she wasn't snobby at all, she was sweet
For some reason I was really attracted to her. Maybe it's because this smart/snooty looking girl came from West Virginia; the one place even us Southerners get to call backwoods. I would always look at her and think, "How did THAT come from THERE?" Kira was also the thickest and shortest little ballerina girl I had ever seen. She acted tall, but she was really little, even though she wore these little dresses that made me think she had these nice long legs that I was always trying to put my hand on. (She was lucky if she was really 5'1".)
While the girls were in the house looking for the volleyball, Holton turned around to me from the passenger seat and said, "This bitch is going to kill us."
I said, "Well, we're only going a mile. I'm sure we'll be fine."
Holton said, "No. I'm pretty sure she might wreck this damn car. I've been riding around with her for a few weeks. This bitch is nuts! We gotta quit riding around with her. We're gonna fucking die!"
I said, "Well, you never told me all this. This is my first time riding with her. How bout this? Once we get to the volleyball court, when we're done, we'll go to a payphone and call someone to pick us up. It's only a mile."
"All right, but I say we make sure we put our seatbelts on."
Now I was scared. Holton never wore his seatbelt.
Then the girls came out to the car and Kira jumped in the driver's side of the back seat and tossed a volleyball in my lap and smiled at me.
Ginger started the car. Holton put on his seatbelt. I put on my seatbelt. Ginger did not put on her seatbelt. Kira was trying to put on her seatbelt, but it was not cooperating.
After about 30 seconds of her trying to put her belt on, Kira said, "Oh well, it's only a mile."
I looked at her and said, "You don't know what a mile is anymore. You're riding with Ginger. We're GETTING your fucking seatbelt to work." And I worked with that belt and the belt receptacle around Kira's waist until if finally forced itself in and clicked. Kira didn't yet know how scared she should be, so she just smiled at me and said, "Thanks, that was sweet."
Neither one of us knew that I had just saved her life and, as a result, Ginger's life, too. Guess which one would later thank me and which one wouldn't. Hey Ginger, you're welcome, bitch! Have you enjoyed the last 16 years being alive?? I did that for you. I didn't mean to. But I still did. You're welcome, you vile person.
Only about thirty seconds passed since I had gotten Kira's seatbelt fastened, and we were now only about 30 seconds away from the volleyball court. All we had to do was go down the hill, and take the 90 degree curve to the left.
All we had to do was go down the hill and take the 90 degree curve to the left????
ALL WE HAD TO DO WAS GO DOWN THE HILL AND TAKE THE 90 DEGREE CURVE TO THE LEFT!!!!!!
Oh, shit! We were riding with Ginger! Not one of us had factored in that we would be going down this dangerous road with her as the driver. I have almost no doubt that if we had known we'd be going down this particular road, we'd have all gotten out of the car at Kira's house and told Ginger to suck it.
The left turn at the bottom of the hill was so sharp that normal driver would slow down to 10 or 15 miles an hour while taking it. The only reason there wasn't a stop sign there was because it wasn't an intersection - the road just turned left and headed towards the playground and the elementary school. We weren't going to make it to the playground and the elementary school.
We were heading down the hill and approaching the left turn at a rate of about 55 miles per hour. I didn't know a lot back then, but I was pretty sure that the odds were now against us.
Here's where everything slows down. We made the first part of the turn, but that was the easy part. Then I heard the tires on the Accord start squeaking like horses that had just been shot. They were squealing because Ginger was trying to make them go left, but gravity and physics were trying to make them go straight. That's how self-centered Ginger was, she thought her commands trumped that of gravity and physics.
Actually Ginger gave up pretty fast. Rather than try to hit the brakes or keep trying to correct the turn, Ginger threw her hands up in the air and and screamed "Ahhhhhh!" Yeah, that's how you handle a crisis. So now the four of us were headed down a hill at 55 or 60 miles an hour into the woods. This couldn't be good.
At the same time, Ginger was yelling "Ahhhh," Holton was yelling something else. It is seared in me:
Not "Oh, shit."
Not "Oh crap."
I remember the exact two words he said and how he said them. He said "Holy Shit" in a quick and surprised way, the same way you said it when Brad Pitt got hit by that car in "Meet Joe Black."
When I heard Holton say "Holy Shit," I could hear him being scared, surprised, curious, and relieved all at once. Let me explain:
Scared: "Are we about to fucking die?"
Surprised: "I told this bitch she'd do this to us, but even I didn't totally believe me!"
Curious: "I wonder how what's about to go down is gonna really go down."
Relieved: "I told her so. She didn't listen. I was right. What's about to happen is still worth being right."
You wanna know what I thought about?
I didn't think about death. I didn't think about impact. I didn't think about my Mom, or God or the welfare of those in the car with me. I didn't think about any of that. I thought about crash test dummies.
Yes, crash test dummies.
I was about to die, and all I could do was be a curious little nerd. I remember exactly what I was thinking as we were headed towards all those trees. Here's what happened:
I was in the back passenger seat, so I couldn't see up front that well. So what I did was lean up to look over Holton's front passenger seat so I could see the wreck that was about to happen to us out the front windshield.
Here's what I thought as I looked out the windshield of the car I was in as it headed towards the trees:
"I wonder what impact will be like? I wonder if our bodies will fly around like those mannequins do on those crash test dummy videos? I've never been in serious impact before. I have a hard time believing our bodies are about to fly around in all those contorted positions just like the crash test dummies. But then again, maybe they will. I wonder if crash test dummies are an accurate representation of what is about to happen to us right now. I'm just not sure."
Then we rammed the tree head on and everything went black.
Going black is the craziest normalist feeling. Let me start by saying, I don't think I ever temporarily died or saw angels or anything like that. But I went black. And the first second of going into the black is a strange place.
When we hit the tree, I hit my head on the side window and maybe the back of Holton's chair,too and that sent me into the black. It was like, one second, I was thinking about the validity of crash test dummies, and the next second, my TV got turned off. But when your TV goes out, it doesn't really go out. It's like it's on but it's off. When you're in the black, you're not blind, but there's nothing to see except black. When you're in the black, you're not deaf, but there's nothing for you to hear. When you're in the black, you're not paralyzed but you aren't moving either. I know this sounds like the same description of sleep, but it's not. It's the black. If you've been there, you know. If you haven't, then I'm sorry if I can't describe it for you. It doesn't hurt when you're in it, but you still don't want to go there.
(In Part 4, we'll describe the wreck scene. It's funny. I wish I was there for the first half of it. I have to go on what people told me I did. I was still in the black, but I was awake and doing shit. I guess I'd have to call that the grey or the clear or the white or something.)