The memory is incomplete: Exterior, Day. Jody and I are eastbound on Sunset Boulevard in her Chrysler Cordoba. I’m driving. The radio is off for some reason: maybe we’re arguing about something.
We idle at a stoplight. The car to my left is filled with girls our age laughing loudly. I turn to see what’s so funny. The driver grips the steering wheel, eyes wide and mouth agape. She isn’t laughing, she’s screaming.
I follow her gaze. A van turning left onto Sunset is parked halfway into the intersection. It sits in a strange attitude, a bright green bag of garbage wrapped around the van’s front wheel.
And then I realize that the green bag is actually sweat pants. Legs. White sneakers poke out from their perch on top of the tire. The van’s full weight rests on the pedestrian’s torso.
“What’s wrong?” Jody says.
“Don’t look.” She turns her head and I shield her eyes. She slaps my hand away.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” she cries. The light turns green and I drive away. I don’t know what else to do.
I’m disgusted with myself, with my cowardice. Faced with an emergency I fled in a panic. Too much pain, too much suffering.
“Why’s he crying?”
“I don’t know. He’s holding some sleeping chick.”
I look out the window. Pat’s pietá description is accurate. They stay there so long that I eventually walk outside. “You two okay?” I ask.
“I didn’t see her,” he says.
“What do you mean?”
“She stepped out in front of me. She won’t wake up.” The woman doesn’t have a scratch on her. She looks like she’s sleeping peacefully.
“You need me to call an ambulance?”
“No, they’re on the way,” he says.
“Okay,” I say, and I walk back into the store. I don’t feel anything: not fear, nor panic, nor even compassion. I just go back inside and straighten the CD racks.
A few months separating two accidents, and I am already hollowed out. That’s how quickly Hollywood can fuck up your head.