Rick was running late and knew that Joe would give him an earful when he picked him up. He had made it back later in the morning than he expected and was bone-tired from a long road trip delivering horses across the country. His lower back was especially sore from days of driving. He knew that the small spasms would grow worse as the day continued. The wet roads from a passing shower slowed him down even more, as he maneuvered the winding turns of the desolate back road to Joe’s place.
The highway was slick enough, and it did not help his nerves much watching the red motorcycle ahead of him going far too fast for the weather conditions. Rick had cursed quietly to himself when he saw it take the same exit that he was taking that ran along the canyon wall and was treacherous even for those who drove it often. As he approached the next hairpin turn in the road, he rolled down his truck window and flicked ashes from his cigarette. The motorcycle had disappeared around the bend. The fresh air hit the side of Rick’s face the same time the sound of crashing metal and screeching tires hit the pit of his stomach.
Rick applied the brakes hard before the turn, not knowing what to expect until the scene came into view. As he came to a halt, Rick saw a small silver Prius with a smashed front end and the mangled red motorcycle lying sideways on top of the car hood. The airbag had gone off and was slowly deflating. Rick noticed the dark-skinned hands of the driver bracing the wheel, then his thick curly dark brown hair as the bag collapsed. The driver sat up straight, bringing his hands to his nose to see if it was broken. Rick noted this guy was certainly not from around here. It took a moment to register that the motorcycle rider was missing.
Rick pulled his truck over in front of the wreck to avoid being hit by someone coming around the bend. The view of the accident was clear for a good mile from the other lane. After he parked, he ran to the Prius to see how hurt the driver was. The driver was a young man, Rick guessed in his early twenties. His hair was short on the sides and longer on the top like the young teen idols like to wear it. He had a drop of blood under his left nostril but seemed okay otherwise. The young man saw him approaching and started cautiously opening his door. He looked like he was in shock.
“Hey, buddy, you okay?” Rick asked as his eyes moved around the scene, looking for the motorcyclist.
“Yeah, yeah, I think.” He responded as he carefully got out of the car and leaned against it. “I think it’s just my nose from the bag. Damn, that hit hard.” The young man looked at the front of his car and then behind him. “The girl, shit, she flew over my car!”
Rick looked in the same direction as he registered a faint moan coming from behind the car. He ran towards the moaning and stopped a few feet passed the vehicle. “Holy shit!” he exclaimed and turned to the young man.
“Do you have a cell phone? I left mine in my truck.” The young man shook his head yes and pulled the phone from his car, his hands trembling.
“Call 911, tell them we are on Old Mountain Pass about a quarter-mile from Exit 8 off Route 60 going West. Got it?” The young man shook his head again as he dialed. “There’s no signal.”
“Run up to the exit if you can. You must get past the mountain wall here. Go fast!” Rick turned to the motorcyclist and realized that it was a small girl with blonde hair in a light brown leather jacket and blue jeans, and, of course, no helmet, laying in a pool of blood. As he bent over her, he moved her hair slightly off her face to discover the source of the bleeding, and his stomach dropped a little more. The girl was still conscious and moaning louder.
“Hey, Sweetheart, can you hear me? Tell me where you hurt?”
The girl was lying in a fetal position and straightened out her legs a little. She tried to move her shoulders and rolled towards Rick. “I don’t think anything is broke. I hit my head on the rocks as I came over the car. I’ll try to get up.”