The late September drizzle rain had turned into a downpour. Umbrellas banged into each other as their owners pushed through the crowd to get into the best position to cross the street first when the light changed. A few teetered on the curb, ready to spring at a moment’s notice. Horns erupted in the rush hour traffic. The drivers had no intention of slowing down due the weather. A woman slipped on the wet sidewalk and grabbed the arm of the closest passerby to prevent her from falling on the hard cement. The stranger gave her an indignant sneer, pushed her hand away, and hurried to the bus shelter to get out of the rain. In the process, he bumped into me as I sat on the dry bench, watching the mayhem unfold. Without giving even a hint of an apology, he bent his head and his steely gray eyes bore into me as if the whole incident was my fault. Maybe he was also blaming the weather on me.
Ignoring him, but determined not to scoot closer to the edge of the bench to give him enough space to sit down, I gazed across the street and searched for Sheila, my best friend’s aunt, to emerge from the hospital. Her shift should have ended thirty minutes ago. I would’ve preferred to have stayed in my car to watch for her, but all the parking spots that provided a view of the hospital’s employee entrance were occupied. I parked in the lot behind the bus stop, walked to the bench, and waited for her.
More people poured into the bus shelter, blocking my view. I stood and peered between the heads of two women just as a bus cut to the curb. No longer able to see the other side of the street, I moved away from the horde of people, opened my umbrella, and headed toward the crosswalk.
When I saw Sheila emerge from the hospital, I waved my hand in the air. With the rain and people scurrying about, I doubted she could see me in the crowd. Continuing along the sidewalk, I kept my eyes on Sheila and noticed she wasn’t wearing a raincoat or making any attempt to cover her head. Her soaking wet hair clung to the top of her nurse’s uniform, and she was staggering, her body swaying with each step she took. Still watching her, I made my way to the crosswalk. Sheila stopped walking and turned toward the hospital. A few seconds later, she swung around and moved in a zigzag path to the street. Sheila didn’t stop when she reached the curb.
Standing on my side of the street, I screamed. “Stop…stop, Sheila.”
A woman next to her gripped Sheila’s arm and said something to her.
Sheila violently pushed the woman away, sending the helpful stranger into the crowd behind her.
Breaks squealed. Tires screeched. But it wasn’t enough to prevent a black sedan from smashing into Sheila. Her body flew in the air, landed on the car hood, and slid to the pavement.Screams of witnesses pierced the night air.
Excerpt from Fatal Limit by Inge-Lise Goss
No Longer Available
Do No Harm
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