Thursday, March 26, 2009

Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey? PART 2

Previously on, on the john: ( "Watchmen" was good, unfortunately it wasn't awesome...)(...apparently most find it irresponsible to drive to a casino town at 1:30 in the morning.)(...versus being able to respectfully make-out with a whole bunch of different chicks at the same time...)(...chose to slam on his brakes the figure would have splattered all over...)(BLAIR: What if he's a psycho killer?)(...with the help of a little moonlight a body could be seen...)(...followed a trail of glass and gashes in the asphalt...)

John and Scott, perused an accident scene, doing their own little CSI, in Utah's freezing west desert at 3:30 in the morning. They figured that they had pieced together what happened to the man lying in a puddle of his own blood and his friend with the rubber hand. While walking around discussing and pointing at the many clues, if they ever got out of ear shot of the loud labored snoring, every 30 seconds or so one of them would glance back at the form on the ground, making sure that it's torso continued to violently fill and depress with air.

John and Scotts theory: There were beer cans around and so it was clear the drivers of the green pickup had been drinking, the driver was probably drunk. Maybe he fell asleep, either way the grass off the shoulder showed that the truck was already traveling sideways when it came off of the freeway. The truck was traveling fast enough that when it hit the grass it began to roll. The ground was a gradual downhill for about 50 yards off of the freeway, and then a gradual uphill for another 10 yards before it reached the fence. The truck violently hit the hill on the upslope losing it's back bumper and then hurling it into the air at least 5 feet high so as to very nearly clear the barbed wire fence. The man with the rubber hand was probably thrown from the truck before the fence, because there was no way he could have climbed over it to get in front of speeding freeway traffic in his state. After being in the air almost 20 yards the truck landed with so much force that it knocked the drivers shoe off. Then rolling threw the driver back 50 feet where he slid and skipped to a stop. The trucks rolling was slowed and it almost crushed the driver as it came to a stop on it's side right next to him.

Scott walked back to the truck to talk to one of the other Samaritans from Clinton. John stared down at the shoe. He stood next to it, and visually compared it's size to his. The shoe was his size. The thought that this man, who was still snoring loudly, was probably similar to him in height and weight somehow made John think of the mortality of the situation and feel very insignificant.

He wandered back around the windshield, the stray tailgate, and a plastic bag and other rubbish to join the others talking. Scott and the other man were discussing CPR. John was glad to hear that Scott had been trained in CPR and that the other man was formerly in the Army, and was even more qualified. The thought of putting his mouth on the bloody smashed face of the stranger lying on the ground was uncomfortable. His breathing was so labored however it seemed he could just die at any moment. It was decided that if he did stop breathing that CPR would be preformed. They all looked of to either horizion hoping to see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle.

About 25 minutes had passed. Tyler returned from the car where he was keeping warm. His face was already blue from the cold and he clung to his light jacket like it might just fly off of him. The Clinton went back to his car. After a little discussion Tyler says, "Hey guys this might sound cheesy, but do you think we should give him a blessing?" John was shocked, the thought hadn't even entered his mind. Of course they should, John thought, and then said, "That's not cheesy at all, Man. Of course you should!" John was taken back. Had he actually been far enough from the spirit to not even think of giving someone in this situation a blessing? He informed Tyler that he was not worthy to preform the blessing or even to stand in. The thought made him sick to his stomach. The insignifigance he felt earlier was compounded with guilt and remourse. John urged the blessing, and even had to remind Tyler how it was supposed to be done.

John bowed his head and stood close as the worthy gently laid hands on the mans head and gave him a blessing. John marveled as very literally almost instantly before he had even said the words " the authority of..." The mans breathing got significantly easier. Their was no more snoring. The torso moved less violently and more rhythmically. It was a miracle! Perhaps his pain was eased. Perhaps he was conscious and the comfort of knowing he had been blessed eased his breathing. Perhaps he had just finally fallen asleep. John and those around him didn't know, but they knew that that simple act changed something. Something John knew he should have been a part of.

Scott and John waited in the cold for another 20 minutes. They had to pay closer attention to the breathing. Since the blessing, it was a lot harder to tell, especially with the mariachi music soundtrack, but the breathing continued. Tyler and Nick kept visiting the scene, but after a few minutes the cold would drive them back into the car. They looked for flashing lights and finally after nearly an hour they saw the first. A Highway Patrolman, showed up first.

He walked up, and before he even asked us any questions reviewed the scene. He reached into the truck and turned off the stereo. John looked at Scott, Scott laughed a little and said, "Well, had we known it was that easy..." The Patrolman asked the group all of the normal questions and told them LifeFlight would be there in 10 minutes. He tried talking to the man on the ground, and fished the wallet out of his back pocket. The snoring started again. The Patrolman found his license, "Morales Hernandez" he said.

The officer got on his radio and started talking to what sounded like LifeFlight. He mentioned, the man's name the number of victims, and as he picked up an empty beer can and stood it up next to the body, mentioned there was alcohol involved. Another set of lights could be seen in the distance on the highway.

Within 10 minutes 4 ambulances and a bunch of paramedics had shown up. They were all from Toole or Wendover. Some of the paramedics were on the "larger than average" scale and couldn't get over the fence. So they cut it down. There was a lot of chatter and Radio communication. "Do you need a second helicopter?" "Negative." "This guy is CHARLIE DELTA." "Victim 2 - not sure if we'll be able to save his hand and he has a head laceration but he's conscious." "We can land it on the frontage road!"

John, his crew, and the Clinton boys... the "first responders," stood out of the way, and waited for someone to ask them something, but nobody did. They may as well not been there. John watched as one of the paramedics straitened out Morales's legs which were broken in several places. Tyler mentioned that he hadn't even noticed it before. Scott pointed out the Helicopter lights off in the distance.

John was no stranger to being a first responder. This was the sixth time he had been among the first to come across a horrible accident. Three of the times he was the first on an accident where LifeFlight was involved. Still the powerful wind and loud noise that accompanied a helicopter landing left him with his mouth open.

Eight people rolled Morales on to his back and kept telling him to try not to move. They carefully moved him to a board, and then on to a gurney. Surprisingly, they wheeled him into the nearest ambulance not to the recently landed helicopter. Once the authorities arrived it was all very blury, but Nick pointed out that they could watch just as good from the car and they all ran to enjoy the heated seats and blasting vents.

They watched as, as many people who can fit into an ambulance, did, and worked vigorously on Morales. Scott mentioned hearing the term "CHARLIE DELTA." The group figured that stood for "Close Death" and decided that maybe the ambulance was better equipped to stabilize him then the helicopter. After a while, the Highway Patrolman came by, he said, "We got everything we need from you... you guys are free to go." They all kind of wanted to see it out, but after a little discussion and the fact that it was nearly 4am the group decided to move on. The sign read Wendover 40 miles as they started back onto the freeway.

The gambling in Wendover was good at first. Everyone who was gambling decided to play craps together. The whole group was winning, they had quickly doubled their money... but then they got greedy and they everyone lost. They played for nearly 3 hours though and the money lost was worth the fun that was had.

It was decided they would go to another casino and try their luck on a different table before they headed home. The sun was out, and they all realized that they had been up all night long. John felt a little tiredness set in for the first time. They got into the car, John turned the radio down so that they could decide where to go, and they all heard a loud noise that the car was making as it rolled forward. When John rolled the window down it sounded as if someone was dragging the bottom of a chain-link fence rhythmically across the hood of a rusted old car. Nick mentioned that he had pointed that out earlier in the night, and that he had been able to hear it ever since they stopped at the accident. He just figured John knew about it since he told him not to worry about it.

They inspected the wheel and tested it, and decided that there was a bad ball bearing making the sound. John became frustrated, which, being tired is worse then normal frustration. Especially since he just got his car out of the shop. There was no such thing as a repair that was less then $1000 on his stupid car. John figured the smart thing to do would be to pay for a tow, but from Wendover on a weekend that would be nearly $500 and how were all 5 of them going to get home? He decided he would think about that over another game of craps and they headed to another casino.

After finding a new table, they put their money in and after only three shooters, everyone of them had lost all their money! They literally played for less than 15 minutes. Scott lost $60 and didn't even get a chance to roll the dice. The group, tired, broke, and a little discouraged headed to Burger King for some breakfast. Nick texted his dad, who was a "car guy"and told him about the Audi's noisy troubles. His dad confirmed that it probably was the ball bearing. He warned Nick that if we chose to drive on it that the friction could get hot enough to weld the wheel to the axle! The thought of going 75 on a freeway and then having a wheel freeze up was scary. The tow alternative seemed like so much work though. John decided to drown his worries in a double Whopper.

After some commiseration and breakfast it was decided they would chance the drive. John decided they should say a prayer. When he mentioned it he saw some glances exchanged between his passengers. He knew what they were thinking, but he figured that there was never a bad time to say a prayer. They paused in the parking lot for a moment and asked for a safe trip home. John pulled out of the parking lot. Scott was saying what a fun trip it was and everyone was agreeing that good times were definitely had. After traveling about 500 yards. John saw a police car oncoming ahead of him. He checked his speed and figured it was okay, then he saw a speed limit sign posted at 35 and realized he was going 10 over. The officer passed him, immediately hit his lights, made a u-turn and pulled John over.

The policeman walked up to the window.

COP: Do you know why I pulled you over?
JOHN: Yes, I was speeding.
COP: License, registration, and insurance please.

John had them ready and handed them over.

SCOTT: I cannot believe that! ugh! We just left Burger King.
NICK: Was there even a speed limit sign between there an here?
SCOTT: No. I don't think there is. I am sure he is just going to give you a warning.

John looked in his rearview, he could see Burger King back in the distance. He could also see the Policeman filling out the ticket book.

JOHN: Nope, he is definitely writing a ticket.
SCOTT: Oh man, I hate cops. This is why I hate cops. Is he really going to write you a ticket for going 45 on a highway like this??
BLAIR: Can't you tell him we were the ones who helped out with that big accident last night.
JOHN: He's Western Wendover PD he probably doesn't even know about it. I am going to ask him about the speed limit sign though.

The cop comes back to the window, hands John the ticket to sign and gives him the usually "not an admission of guilt" spiel.

JOHN: Can I ask you a question?
COP: Sure.
JOHN: I just left Burger King back there a minute before you pulled me over. Is there even a speed limit sign between there and here?
COP: (scoffing) Yeah, it is posted often.
SCOTT: (laughing) What is it posted every 10 feet?
COP: (raising his voice) Do you have a problem? What does this have to do with you?
SCOTT: We just left Burg--
COP: This has nothing to do with you! Whats your problem man.
SCOTT: I don't have a problem I just don't think--
SCOTT: I was just--
SCOTT: I'm Done.
COP: This has nothing to do with you. You want to go and make things worse for your buddy here, then keep it up.
SCOTT: I'm done
JOHN: Do we have -- COP: Doesn't sound like you're done. -- JOHN: (cont.) have this -- SCOTT: I"M DONE. -- JOHN: (cont.) conversation right -- COP: IT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE YOU'RE DONE. -- JOHN: (cont.) now? WOULD YOU BOTH PLEASE SHUT UP!

John was nervous that he had lost it there but neither one of them even acknowledged him. They just kept getting louder.

SCOTT: I'm Done.
JOHN: SCOTT! Don't even say YOU'RE DONE. Just don't say anything.

Scott was quiet. The Cop stood there looking at him as to tempt him for a few moments, then, he mumbled something about having 2 weeks to respond and told John to have a nice day. John didn't respond. The Cop walked away.

The drive home consisted of music loud enough to drown out the constant "REET REET REET" sound the car was making, and Scott saying over and over that the whole trip was great until "...that stupid cop decided to be a prick and ruin everything!" John conceded that the cop was more of a prick then most of policemen in his police experiences. Really though, the only thing that concerned John was that they make it home without further incident. With every gust of wind or bump in the road John thought 'Here is comes.'

Lucky for the group it never did. After an hour and a half they got off of the 600 north exit John called out to the car, "We made it!" Some of them woke up and some of them cheered. Regardless, they figured the were home free. As they pulled onto their street John looked for a parking spot. He saw one, and made a u-turn to get to it. Mid u-turn John exclaimed, "Oh crap! oh-ho, give me a break!" Everyone looked at him and thought maybe the car had finally given up. They all watched as John put his hand up to his mouth and spit into it what looked like a tooth. John said, "Oh, come on, gie me a break." Nick asked, "What is that?" John replied, "It's a temporary crown, man I have a date tonight, I wont be able to see my dentist... plus I have to sleep."

John parked the car and started laughing. You could see the stump of tooth that his crown had fallen off of, it was conviently located on one of his front four teeth. Most of the group joined in the laughter. It was 10am, only 12 hours after the start time of "Watchmen" but it seemed so long ago. One hour, a walk to Maverick, and a tube of Krazy Glue later and John lay down with his tooth back intact and reflected on the evening for a few moments befoe he fell asleep.

Johnny Metropolis.

PostScript: A week later John called to find out the status of Morales Hernandez. After some run around, he was able to talk to someone. Morales made it to the hospital but never came out of critical condition and passed away two days later. The hospital wouldn't tell him much about the man with the rubber hand, but that he lived. John also learned that "Charlie Delta" is a rating system. The 5 phonetic alphabet letters ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA, and ECHO are used to rate a victims seriousness when found - ECHO means Dead. Finally, the date John had glued his tooth in and needed sleep for canceled on him minutes before the scheduled time. The five who went to Wendover that night however have a story that will grow with time and be one of the craziest nights any of them have ever had.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey?

It's Friday night and everyone was meeting for dinner at 8:15. Spaghetti Mama's was to precede the opening night viewing of "Watchmen." John was invited to watch "Watchmen" at Jordan Commons IMAX theater by Jon Madsen two weeks prior. John purchased his tickets, borrowed the comic book the movie was based on and then waited in excited anticipation for the show.

A week before the show John received a text:
BEKAH: Hey, want to take the Fun Bus to Wendover Friday night with me Alan and Brit and some friends.
JOHN: Crums! I would love to... but I am going to see Watchmen that night at 9:50. Maybe I'll just drive up after and meet you there.
BEKAH: Oh Crap! I forgot that Watchmen was this weekend.
John, finishing the textersation entertained this thought process "dinner at 8pm (1 1/2 hours) Watchmen (3 hours) drive to Wendover (1 1/2 hours) play in Wendover (4 hours) Drive home (1 1/2 hours) Be home at 8am - Sleep till 2pm... Perfect!" He started inviting everyone to his night of fun.

All in all 20+ people showed up to Jon's movie night. "Watchmen" was good, unfortunately it wasn't awesome like John was expecting. In addition, try as he might, he invited a bunch of people to Wendover, but apparently most find it irresponsible to drive to a casino town at 1:30 in the morning. Turned out too, that Bekah, who invited John to Wendover, and the friends she was going to go with decided not to go anymore.

Regardless, at 1:30am John, Scott, Tyler, Nick and Blair jumped in the Audi and headed west. The drive was somewhat uneventful except for an in depth conversation about dating and commitment. After traveling about 75 miles, during one of Scott's tirades about the difference between being a "player" versus being able to respectfully make-out with a whole bunch of different chicks at the same time. John noticed something on the road ahead. The figure was running from the middle dash marks on the freeway towards the right side of the road. John was traveling in the right lane at 80 miles an our. He started to swerve to the left. Blair screamed from the backseat and Scott and Nick yelled some indiscernible expletives. John watched as if in slow motion this form which looked like a hunched over man waving one arm, ran across the freeway in front of him. The front of the car literally missed this guy by 5 to 10 feet. Had John chose to slam on his brakes the figure would have splattered all over his windshield. Those in the car quickly debated what just happened:

TYLER: Holy Frick was that a deer?
SCOTT: No, it was a guy.
JOHN: Yeah that was a man running across the road.
NICK: We should go back, and make sure he doesn't run in front of somebody else.
BLAIR: Sorry for screaming.
TYLER: Are you kidding? that was a guy.
JOHN: Yeah, we barely missed him... you think we should go back?
NICK: Yes, that idiot is going to run in front of somebody else who wont be as alert. We need to see whats wrong.
JOHN: I don't see any cars stopped or anything, we are in the middle of no where.
SCOTT: We need to be careful, it looked like he had a hood, and we don't know what he's doing.
JOHN: I'm gonna reverse.
BLAIR: What if he's a psycho killer?
JOHN: Then we are gonna kick his ass, there are 4 huge guys in here.
TYLER: Do you think it was an accident?
NICK: I don't see any cars but we should definitely go back ya'll.
SCOTT: Yeah, that's so crazy. There is nothing out here, no cars on the side of the road - nothing. What could he be doing out here at 3 o'clock in the morning?
JOHN: I just saw another car swerve in the rearview.
NICK: That guy is going to get killed!
SCOTT: Oh, look someone else is pulling over.
NICK: I can't see anything through this tint. I'm rolling the window down.
JOHN: We'll be there in a second.
NICK: Uh, your car is making a pretty bad sound.
JOHN: Don't worry about it, but I can't see with you hanging out the window.

John pulls the car back to the other pulled over vehicle, a 10 year old Toyota Corolla. By this time the man who was in the middle of the freeway was in their back seat. John and Scott get out of the front seats of their car. A guy yells out the window. "This guy keeps pointing out there and saying "friend." John and Scott look towards a field north of them. At first they don't see anything. Then after their eyes scramble around for something, intermittently in the red light of the hazards, they see a large dark box shaped thing. As they stare at it, it dawns on them that it is a car, resting on it's side nearly 200 yards from the freeway! The two passengers of the Toyota and all of the passengers of Johns car run towards the heap. There is a 5 foot barbed wire fence, that they quickly scale.

The pile of steel that used to be a pickup was on it's side but it wasn't running. Somehow the CD player survived the accident... mariachi music played out of the stereo during the experience as though a film director had chosen it to juxtapose the horror and gore of the scene. Shattered glass and twisted metal were everywhere. The cab of the truck had been smashed almost flat. At first glance it seemed unbelievable that anyone had survived.

As their eyes adjusted, with the help of a little moonlight a body could be seen at the back end of, what at closer inspection is a newer Ford truck. John gets there right after Scott. The body is that of a man, he is lying face down. There is blood coming out of his ear and all over his face. His nose and face are smashed into the asphalt of the frontage road that his truck somehow landed on. He is not responding as Scott try's to talk to him. Nick yells, "Did someone call 911?" One of the other two Samaritans, two guys from Clinton, UT, responded that they hadn't gotten that far yet. Tyler quickly calls 911 to inform the authorities of the accident. John runs back to his car, it is so dark that he maneuvers his car to shine his headlights onto the scene.

The genius who was flagging people down in the dead center of a dark freeway was sitting in the back of the other vehicle. He was clearly drunk. He didn't speak a lot of English, but it was pretty apparent that he didn't grasp the gravity of the condition his friend was in. "Do you think my hand is going to be alright" he asked. His hand was bloody and swollen. It looked like a rubber glove filled with water which hung in no particular fashion. As though the bones in his hand had been crushed to a powder. He had a laceration on the side of his head, which bled a little more when he found out that 911 had been called. He cried "no poliz, no poliz!" John wondered if he was an illegal or if he just feared the coming DUI. John told him, "Your friend needs to go to a hospital." and then thought, 'and if you don't want a hook or claw or something, you do too.'

Back at the pickup the Clinton duo had laid a few coats over the man, who was breathing. This was evidenced by the loud snoring sound he was making. Of course in juvenile idiot fashion no one in Johns car even brought a coat. John and Scott at least had hoody's on, but the 20 degree temperature bit harder with even the slightest breeze. John and Scott walked around trying to piece together what had happened. They followed a trail of glass and gashes in the asphalt, but noted that the fence they climbed seemed unharmed. Initially they thought that perhaps these guys were traveling on the frontage road. Then they noticed the bumper on the other side of the fence. Near the bumper a fence post had been bent slightly about 10 inches. The barbed wire had been pushed down about 6 inches and it became apparent that the truck hit the embankment so fast that it nearly cleared the fence altogether. Scott pointed out where the bumper was, and then you could see where the truck first landed because of a shoe and some debris... 50 feet behind that the truck lay on it's side emitting the happy tune of mariachi music.

to be continued...