The young state trooper slid behind the steering wheel of his recently assigned patrol vehicle. The time he had spent in the Army as part of the Military Police had been a factor in being hired into a job he had dreamed of for years. His civilian training was completed and he was now working the job of his dreams. As one of the newest hires it came as no surprise that he would have to work the “graveyard shift” as many referred to the hours from late night to early morning.
With an eye-opening ‘cup of joe’ in him, John eased the patrol vehicle with the high performance engine and high speed stabilization package out of town to cruise the rural stretch of Highway 18. The cruiser reminded him of the little red sports car he had purchased by special order years before while in the Army. John had enjoyed cruising around base and the nearby city in the hot little number he had owned for a couple of years before he had received orders to ship out on overseas deployment. Reluctantly, he had done the smart thing and had sold his little red sweetheart.
As Patrolman John Steerforth began his sift, a few miles further south on Highway 18 a young, blond haired high school boy suddenly bolted awake as his car shook under him. In a moment’s time Kyle Smathers realized he had fallen asleep while driving home from a date and had run off of the road. Startled, he looked up to see a row of rural mailboxes directly in front of his little red Mazda RX7. Instantly, he knew he would not have the time to avoid the postal boxes by steering back onto the paving, so he chose to take his chances on the slope of the roadside.
Startled wide awake, adrenalin had taken over and Kyle was amazed at how well the low profile sports car was holding the bank. All went well for 200-300 feet until a drainage washout caused Kyle to lose control as the vehicle was suddenly pulled violently left and in no time a pine tree now was the danger. Luck had run out for Kyle as he and the little red car plowed head-on into the large pine tree.
When Kyle came back into consciousness a few minutes after plowing into the tall Georgia pine, he wondered at first if he had been killed as he felt no pain. As his head cleared he then realized the safety air-bag had done its job. The doors were jammed closed as the vehicle had folded like an accordion in some places. Remembering the RX7 had a large rear hatch window, Kyle reached down and pulled the latch by the seat and released the rear window and crawled out of the vehicle and back up the embankment to the edge of the quiet country road.
Realizing that no traffic could be hoped for in that stretch of rural highway in the middle on night, Kyle started walking back in the direction of the mailboxes. Hoping to be able to find the houses associated with the postal boxes in the dark, great relief flooded over the young man as he saw someone with a flashlight walking in his direction. The farmer in the big house across from the mailboxes had been awakened by the sound of the crash and had slipped on his trousers, grabbed a light and came running after telling his wife to call 911.
Shortly after reaching young Kyle, the older gentleman, Frank James, consoled the young man after having ascertained that he seemed to be physically fine and that no one else was involved in the accident. By the time the State Patrolman rounded the curve with lights flashing Kyle was already lamenting the loss of his sweet little red sports car that had been a special gift for graduation.
Upon arriving on the scene, Trooper Steerforth, took things quickly under control and began his accident scene procedures. First, he determined for himself that Kyle was not injured and was not in need of medical attention. Then, they all went down to the accident site to verify that no one else was in the car and that no other vehicles were involved.
A couple of local citizens who knew Kyle and his father as well as Mr. James, had happened by the accident scene and had stopped to offer assistance. Having determined that the situation was secure and after checking the young man for a “Driving Under the Influence” violation, Trooper Steerforth returned to his car to fill out the accident report. Satisfied with the test results and seeing that no property except the vehicle was damaged, he had agreed that the friends of the family could drive Kyle to his home and parents who were only about five minutes away as soon as he was finished.
With his cruiser window down the patrolman overheard the young man now begin to lament the loss of his beautiful red sports car to his father’s friends. The friends already knew it had been a graduation gift that Kyle had received for graduating with high honors. Listening to the sad young man Trooper John was reminded of the similar feeling he had experienced watching his own red sports car departing the day he had sold it several years earlier.
Mr. Jack Jones had answered an advertisement in the paper the shipping out soldier had reluctantly placed in order to sell his heart’s delight. John had agreed to meet with Mr. Jones and his wife, Susan, for a test drive of the beautiful little red two-seater. The middle-aged Mrs. Jones drove for the test drive and John wondered why a lady almost old enough to be a grandmother wanted with a car that only seated two. When they returned to Mr. Jones the deal was made immediately. Mr. Jones said that he did not need to drive the car if Mrs. Jones was satisfied. Money was paid and papers signed and the young soldier watched with great sadness until ‘his’ pretty red car was out of sight.
“Don’t worry, Kyle,” Trooper John heard someone speaking and it quickly brought his focus back to the accident scene. “You have a long life ahead of you. Just be thankful for now you are safe. Your dad will help you get another car. You’ll own many cars throughout life.” The patrolman smiled to himself for he was quite sure that he knew what the young man was thinking at that moment: “Yes, but it won’t be the same as ‘my special’ red hot sports car.”
-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013