Pick A Number: 1

Number 1: Pretending that, if you deny it insistently enough, the world won’t effect you doesn’t work.

When I was young and could still make mistakes, and the mistakes were so much better than the mistakes you see now-a-days, I made one.

Only one, but it was a doozy.

I was driving the family car one night, tooling around the wilderness of Salem in the foggy dark. The mist-softened edges of the world appeared soundlessly and without warning, passing to the side without effect. Mysterious and unreal, the world flickered briefly about me, untouching….

Until someone stopped suddenly in front of me. Our bumpers kissed, lightly. There was a confused period after this. I vaguely remember seeing that neither car was much damaged, exchanging information, and parting. The sinking feel of having screwed up fell away; the other driver was now gone, gone forever, and the car was nearly untouched. This was something that could be put behind me and never spoken of, never thought of again.

Within a week I received a registered letter. The excitement of my first registered letter deflated as quickly as I found that it was from the DMV, instructing me to file my accident report. I didn’t know how to do that, offhand, and was fairly certain word of the report would get back to my mother. Not to be considered. I slipped the letter into my sock drawer and thought no more about it.

The following week I slipped the second letter from the DMV in next to it, unopened. Better, I felt, not to read the dunning words, if I didn’t want to think about them.

And the month following, again.

Nothing happened for several months, then a last registered letter, which I filed without breaking stride. I had, I decided, broken their spirit, and would hear no more from them.

On a late-night doughnut run I was a tad bit cavalier with the local speed limits. One of Salem’s finest pulled me over to discuss that with me. While he studied my license I wondered if I had enough money to pay the fines without my mother taking note. Stress filled me as my limited options muscled into the front seat with me. This, I felt, was about as bad as things could get. The officer returned.

“Mr. Shanks, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say….”

It seems that failing to report an accident in which one takes part is a crime in Oregon, leading to suspension of one’s license. Driving without a license in Oregon is a crime.

“But I didn’t know that I was….”

“The DMV notified you by registered letter. The letter was signed for.”

I wondered if there was room in my sock drawer to hide. Maybe if I got rid of the letters first.

Crossposted from Epinepherine & Sophistry

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