Of course it is not my fault, so they keep telling me, especially the pretty doctor. It was a suicide. But he is dead and I am not. That’s not so easy to hide from. Or ignore. No matter what the pretty doctor says. More
I may have seen him earlier, I probably did. I must have. I’m sure I must have noticed him, but I honestly don’t remember. I’ve tried, believe me. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t remember. Besides, there is a difference between seeing and noticing.
Whether I saw him earlier or not, then, out of absolutely nowhere, I see him. Right in front of me, right there in the fast lane. Standing there. Still as a tree and smiling. Dark suit, white shirt, light-blue tie. Funny thing to notice, the color of the tie. I didn’t notice the color of the tie right away, though. None of the details right away. My brain had yet to catch up with what my eyes took in, and my brain took its time about it.
Well, for one, this should not, could not, be happening. That’s what my brain told me. And in no uncertain terms. And so into an argument with my eyes, who insisted that it was, very much, indeed, happening. And by then it was too late.
There are reasons for this internal conflict, of course, and they have been explained to me, often—since I don’t seem to really get it—and for me not noticing him before, for not registering what was happening.
For one, the pretty doctor with the tortoiseshell glasses says, living and driving in Los Angeles for so many years I had, like everybody else, she says, learned to live a full—even rewarding, she kept stressing—life in my car, and too many thoughts and plans and worries and whatnots would have lingered between me and him (obstructing the view as it were) even after my eyes first took him in, and that’s why I didn’t even slow down at first. Not a bit. Well, that’s what she says, anyway. I don’t know what to think. All I know is that even after I saw him, it didn’t reach me, if you know what I mean. Things just didn’t register. Too impossible.
My eyes saw, though. Yes, they definitely did, she says, taking their side in the argument with my brain. Saw, and absorbed and reported the fact back toward wherever I was at the time, dreaming, planning and whatnot. Saw and said:
“There’s someone straddling the center divider. This someone is now crossing the center divider. And now he’s stepping into the fast lane. Into my fast lane. Into precisely where my car is heading.
“Wearing a light-blue tie.”
I’m sure my eyes told me all this in time, but I didn’t hear them. Or did not hear them soon enough, anyway, and that’s why he’s dead now.
When I finally got the message (my brain now overwhelmed by visual evidence) everything turned extremely real. And still. And slow.