There were no kids, no pitter patter of little feet. They had tried, as best they could when they only had one day a week to do the dance, but to no avail. But somehow this had been okay, a little bit sad, but nothing they couldn't deal with. Maybe it was better anwyay, hard enough being the wife of a driver, much less the child of one. Problem with the world today was that there were so many kids that didn't have their dads in their lives enough. Irene managed to find ways to fill her time, her morning job at Pricer's Supermarket, volunteering at the Fire Department ('Damn, Gary you trust that woman round all them sweaty firemen?' Ron had exclaimed), Bingo Nights and potluck dinners and Sunday night games of Hand and Foot that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. And that woman could tend a garden, could grow the finest flowers that town had ever seen, and a vegetable garden that deserved ribbons, and oh what she could do with those trees. Bonsai she called it, these little trees, small and graceful and... well just peaceful in a way that Gary couldn't describe. So his heart was easy knowing that she was not sitting at home staring off the front porch, watching those trash tv shows that so many women spent their days watching, and she was not unhappy.
He did pick up the phone then, and punched in the number to the house, even knowing she wouldn't be there. He'd leave her a message, even if it would be a surprise, just to tell her he was alright. The phone rang twice, and the answering machine picked up, and beeped. Odd, no greeting, but the damned machine was so old he was probably lucky to even get a beep out of it.
'Baby it's me, I just wanted to call and see how you was doin'. See you when I get there, baby.'
As he pressed the 'End' button, he noticed with unexplained alarm that the Probe had now turned its turn signal on, it was going to move left to pass traffic, and what had been a crawling sensation at the base of his neck had now turned into a collar of ice. The voice was there again, the calm, commanding one, only now it didn't sound so calm. 'Move! Move! Move!' and before he could explain why, he turned on his own signal, and began merging left, just adding to the sensation that he was caught in some kind of tractor beam, and being pulled along by this car. He glanced in his mirrors as he moved over, and moved in behind the Probe. They sailed past the slow car that had been in front of the Probe, another sports car, and the Probe signalled right.
Gary followed suit, and as he began to return to the right lane, he checked his mirrors one last time. The Probe was in front of him to the right and the second sports car was well behind him. Just as he turned on his signal, the second car suddenly jerked, a quick motion to the right, then to the left, and Gary realized with alarm that the driver had just floored it, had just hit the gas pedal so hard that he could barely control the car. The feeling at the base of his neck was gone suddenly, and as Gary continued executing his return to the right lane, he was aware of sudden silence. He drifted into the path of the sports car, moving in behind the Probe one final time, and as he closed his eyes, he heard Irene whispering to him, saying 'Ya done good, baby.' He saw Ron, lifting his hand in a farewell wave, saying 'See ya on the other side', and he saw a man he didn't know, standing in front of a glass window, pointing out a bed with that unmistakable fatherly pride, pointing to a bassinet with a namecard on it. The namecard was the last thing Gary saw, the last thing he ever saw, and he smiled as he read his own name there, smiled as the silence broke and the world went bright.
Smithfield News-Herald, Sunday, April 21, 2002
Fatal Accident on Highway 7
Smithfield – A tractor trailer and a car were involved in a deadly accident yesterday afternoon on Highway 7. The car struck the truck from behind at what the police are calling 'an extremely high rate of speed'. Killed in the crash was James Harrison, 29, of Smithfield and another man, whose name has not been released pending notification of his family. There were no other passengers in either vehicle. Eyewitnesses say that the car, driven by Harrison, suddenly picked up speed just before the truck moved into the right lane in front of it. 'That truck driver must not have seen him coming, I mean, the car was suddenly just barreling forward and the truck just kept moving over,' one eyewitness reported. Both lanes of the highway were closed for nearly four hours last night as police crews investigated and cleared the roadway. They are not releasing any more information at this time, citing an ongoing investigation.
Woman Found Dead in Garden
Rocky Creek – A local woman was discovered dead in her garden late Saturday morning by a neighbour who stopped by for coffee. Very little information has been released at this time, pending notification of the next of kin, but sources say that the death was likely a natural one. Her death makes the second Rocky Creek casualty Saturday, leaving the tiny community shocked.
Smithfield News-Herald, Monday, April 22, 2002
Community Rocked by Bizarre Double Deaths
Rocky Creek – The death of a local couple here has rocked this small community, after a married couple died in separate incidents the same day. Irene Tucker, 47 was found dead Saturday morning by a neighbour, the victim of an apparent heart attack. Just hours later, her husband, truck driver Gary Tucker, 49, was killed in a freak accident on Highway 7 that left one other man dead. Long time friend and fellow truck driver Ron Mercer said 'He asked me Saturday morning if I would tell her that he loves her, if something were to happen to him. I guess he can tell her himself now.' A dual memorial service is planned for Wednesday night, with a potluck dinner to follow at the Bingo Hall located in Rocky Creek's Volunteer Fire Department.
Smithfield News-Herald, Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Woman Narrowly Escapes Disaster, Gives Birth to Healthy Baby Boy
Smithfield – Jenna Sullivan is counting her blessings. She gave birth to a 7 pound 4 ounce bouncing baby boy late Monday night, after going into labour two weeks early. She was an eye-witness to Saturday's fatal accident on Highway 7, and doctors believe the stress and trauma from that event may have triggered the early labour. 'Kenneth and I have tried so long to have a baby, we're so grateful that he is finally here. I am just counting my blessings, because it could have been me in that accident. I guess someone was looking out for me.' Jenna was driving just ahead of the vehicles involved in the accident, and saw it take place through her rear view mirror. 'I drive a small Ford Probe,' she said, tearfully, 'with barely enough room in it for me and my belly. If I had been the one hit by that car...' In a strange coincidence, Jenna and Kenneth named their son Gary, also the name of the truck driver involved in Saturday's accident.