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Life and Death in the Miller House
Jonathan St. Ives
Our area is one of the worst places in the country for drunk drivers. It wasnâ€™t just that the police had raised an entire generation of the seventies children to believe that it was OK to drink and drive by never busting parties and by following drunks home without arresting them, it was also the fact that there were very few police for a huge area.
The highway she was driving was called the â€œDevilâ€™s Highwayâ€, US 666. Fatalities were so common that an entire section of the local newspaper was dedicated to people who had died there. It ran daily. Right next to the column listing the people who were caught for their 5th, 10th, and even 15th DWI.
I knew all this, and yet I didnâ€™t even kiss her goodbye. All I could say was â€œDrive safely, Sweetie!â€ As if that would help her - as the intoxicated driver approached her head-on in her lane at 105 miles per hour.
The Sheriffâ€™s department preacher that they sent to my house to tell me the news was a man I had worked with many years before. He was the perfect choice of messenger, since he was polite to a fault and very caring. I stood at the door, wondering why he had picked this time of night to renew old friendships, until I remembered suddenly what he had said he was leaving his old job to do.
After that, I honestly couldnâ€™t hear a thing he said. He politely touched me on the elbow and made reassuring noises, but I was already detached from that moment. I was drifting in a place where time had stopped and sound didnâ€™t exist. I floated with him to the car and we went to the scene of the murder.
Her car was no longer a car. At least it wasnâ€™t recognizable as one. You think strange things in shock. I was mad at the maker of the car that had touted how safe this particular car was. Then I realized that at the speed this must have happened, no car could have been safe. What was left of the car was so small it didnâ€™t seem to have enough metal to be a car. I tried to find the driverâ€™s seat, but couldnâ€™t even tell if I was looking at the front or the rear.
Her body was a little ways away. The medics were loading a very small package under a sheet onto a gurney. The sheet had large red spots on it. I approached the gurney and the Preacher motioned to the medic. He scanned my blank expression for a minute, possibly confused by my lack of emotion. The dead look in my eyes must have moved him to action. He turned and pulled back the sheet.
The mess underneath could not have ever been the woman I loved. It could not have been the girl for whom I had looked for 34 years of my life, the girl who was my perfect mate, the girl for whom I had felt love at first sight. No, the distorted and bloody face there couldnâ€™t be the shining face of the girl I had just so recently swum with in the clear sparkling waters of St. Thomas. A girl with whom Iâ€™d made love on those white sandy beaches. But it was.