“Milk, bread, canned peas, whole wheat pasta, milk bread, canned peas, whole wheat pasta”....so the mantra continued, as Dallas Shaver walked briskly to the “Trading Post Emporium” to pick up the items on his mental list. The TPE, as it was known to the locals, was a store mostly for the tourists and hikers on their way up to Glacier Park. It had a variety of camping supplies, food, maps, postcards, survival and sightseeing guides, in a rustic interior of logged wood adorned with the busts of bear, deer and elk. It also sufficed as a convenience store for the people of Coram on their way home from work in Martin City or Columbia Falls who didn’t find time in their busy days to stop at the super market. It was owned by a big, long-haired, Indian named Malcolm Buck and his wife, which made calling the store the TPE a tongue and cheek apropos
“Canned milk, bread, peas, whole wheat pasta.”
Dallas still held on to his black nylon umbrella even though the rain had stopped. He’d been caught one too many times without it of late and had ended up drenched, so he was taking no chances. Nothing irritated him more than wet hair, whether it be the white bristle on his head, or his close-cropped beard. It wasn’t that he was an old man, but his hair had gone stark white in his youth giving him an appearance of one of advanced years instead of someone in their early fifties.
“Milk, whole wheat bread, canned peas, pasta...that’s not right...come on, surely I can remember a few items my wife had told me to get. What was it again Whole milk, wheat bread, canned pasta and peas...ah shit!”
He had parked the car at the post office, fired off a few bills and a letter to his Daughter at UCLA despite her pleas of, “Dad! E-mail, text, or call! Nobody sends letters anymore. Move out of the Stone Age.” Yet, Dallas was entrenched in the old world. He could do without the viruses and spyware infections of their computer planet. Isn’t it enough I pay my taxes then to have them watching my every move? No thank you. Keep your fancy technological advances. I do just fine without their modems and liquid crystal do-dads.
Dallas approached the corner of Seville Lane and Route 2, what you could barely call, downtown Coram. Besides the Post Office and the TPE there were a few other stores- mostly bars and restaurants nestled between a garage, hotel and a two pump gas station. There was only one traffic light and it had changed from amber to solid red. He stood and waited to cross. “Milk, bread, canned peas and something.”
He scratched at his arm. Lately it felt as if something was crawling under his skin. At times he thought he saw threads of black and red and it was getting painful. His wife had urged him to get medical help, but the Doctor in Martin City had told him not to worry. It was a phantom sensation brought on by sensitivity most likely to insect bites, he’d said. “The Horseflies are extremely bad this year- all that damn rain. Even the deer are charging out into the road to get away from them. You should see the number of broken bones I have to attend to because of it all. Driver’s not paying attention. Jed Bradshaw over at the garage must be pretty happy though- plenty of work for him. Probably throwing nightly parties with all the dough he’s makin.” The Doctor had hardly glanced at the lesion, prescribing a topical cream and shooing Dallas away like he was the annoying horsefly he spoke of.
“Jed Bradshaw. I should take the car into see him. Get him to check out the knocking sound in the Chevy.” Ever since Dallas and his wife had returned from dropping their Daughter off in California the car had been acting up, but if anyone knew what to do, it was Jed. Dallas had known Jed for years and trusted the man like few others he knew.
“What the hell is taking this light so long? It’s not like this is Rodeo Drive or Times Square by Christ!”
"A whole can of pasta and wheat bread peas...Jesus!. Milk, bread, canned peas, whole wheat pasta, That’s it! Green light. Finally.” He stepped from the curb. A voice yelled out, “Dallas! Wait!” It was too late.
An old Ford pickup accelerated and ploughed into him, obliterating Dallas’s pelvis with a sickening crunch and sending him into the windshield. His head cracked through the glass as the car slammed into a mailbox and then the brick wall of the Post office with enough force to send his lifeless body into the wall minus a good portion of his face and an eye ripped from his socket. The umbrella floated effortlessly to the ground and lay on an angle like a top at rest.
The driver of the truck had fared no better. His face had gone into the steering wheel which had peeled back his lower jaw from the tongue down. It hung to his crushed chest in a trickling waterfall of blood beneath what was left of a row of upper teeth and the stunned vacant stare of Jed Bradshaw.
Malcolm Buck ran back into his store to call in the accident. He had felt something in his bones- a warning compelling him to leave his shop and step outside. He’d seen Dallas Shaver with his umbrella down, walk out into the street against the red light. He also saw Jed Bradshaw’s pickup accelerate as if the driver had intended to mow the man down. He had yelled out to Dallas, but the man had walked directly into the path of the speeding vehicle anyway. Everything after that was in slow motion....or a dream. Buck had been so tired lately, pulling double shifts in the store. His wife was ill and barely came down from their apartment above the shop and the young girl he’d hired to help him out had also been sick the past few weeks. All the hours to keep the shop open had dulled his senses he wasn’t sure if what he’d witnessed had actually happened. But it wasn’t a dream. The crunched hood of the pickup still smoked from the wall of the Post Office and the bodies of both driver and pedestrian remained motionless.
Bystanders were now crowding around as Benjamin Triggs from the Post Office came running out and tried to pry open the driver door with the help of a taller man to release Jed, or what was left of him, from the wreckage.
Buck was on the phone stating the nature of the emergency. “Yes there’s been an accident.....corner of Two and Seville.....truck hit a pedestrian......I don’t know...... Malcolm Buck......Trading Post Emporium......Hurry, please!”
Buck grabbed his cowboy hat, left the store and ran to the accident. Someone had placed a coat over Dallas Shaver’s body that lay to the side of the pick-up, his one leg, broken and twisted, looked as if it were ready to walk away from the rest of the body, a broken femur jutted out of his pants like a jagged white tooth. Many had recoiled in horror at the sight and the tall fellow who was probably just passing through and stopped for a bite, lost his lunch on Benjamin Triggs’s shoes when they finally pried the driver door open and pull the lifeless body of Jed Bradshaw free from the wreckage, flapping lower jaw and all.
The crowd was all a murmur and the questions were being asked. “How did something like this happen in a town with virtually no traffic?” Malcolm Buck didn’t have the answers, but what he did know; in his forty-two years on this earth this was the strangest thing he’d ever seen.