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Grumpy Bear

Which Paradigm?

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Sissy is a recently widowed teenage mother of twin baby girls. Steve had a private contractors job in Iraq. He’s been interned for over year and money is tight.

Sissy never finished school so she’s been taking classes at a local Junior College to acquire her GED and hope is, a degree as a paralegal. Her only living relative is a sister fifteen years her senior whose in poor health and on state aid who has taken on part time mother duties while Sissy makes a living on the night shift cleaning bathrooms, bed pans and the common areas of the smallish hospital slash county nursing home. Work that doesn’t require an education and pays to suit; takes classes during the day.

She’s driving north in a dated Dodge Caravan on an old Federal Highway built in the days of Ike with concrete gutters that empty into culverts that empty into the many and sorted farm creeks that make up the headwaters of a small river that eventually runs into the Missouri just west of the bluffs. It’ rolling country and currently she’s rolling up a three percent grade of a mile in length that’s marked no passing for half its length.

The speed limit is 55 mph but Sissy is doing 62 as she is late for the third time in as many days to pick up the girls. Millie, her sister has been unhappy about that. 

At the top of the rise is a farmhouse that is situated on a country corner “T” just the other side of that rise. Making a right turn into the southbound lane is Randy in his families newer Crown Victoria. Randy is in his early forties and a contract welder at the corn plant seven miles back. His wife and child are expecting him for dinner in under an hour at home. Meatloaf!!

As he turns onto the highway he sees an elderly lady checking her farms mailbox. Their eyes meet and they exchange the friendly nod and wave common to country folk. The days grown long and so have the shadows.

Edna is a mother of four. Grandmother of nine and great grandmother of two. Her husband of fifty years Earl, who is now mowing the well-manicured lawn of their families dairy farm sits on the tractor at the hills crest. Earl will turn the farm over to the boys in two months and he and Edna are moving to their dream home in the Rockies to start that perfect retired life they dreamed of.

Behind Sissy and closing fast is Ben and his wife, Janet, in his work/fun truck. Ben is a business major who runs the family construction business his grandfather left his father and now belongs to him and their two month old boy he hopes one day.

They are twenty minutes late for a dinner date with friends thirty miles further north and Ben is in a hurry delayed the last twenty minutes by the spring parade of farm equipment.

He gauges his speed and distance. He’s presently doing 75 mph and a hundred feet past the start of the no passing zone Sissy just entered. He does not lack confidence the truck can clear the Caravan with room to spare before the crest if he just reacts and doesn’t break momentum.

Pedal now on the mat, motor in a howl and a firm pull to the opposite lane. Momentum now pushing past the point of no return.

Earl has just shut off the tractor in time to hear the raucous roar of a big GM V-8 and in his panic looks back at Edna waving and screaming, motioning her to the ditch. Randy sees Earl wild wave and instinctively  places both feet on the brake and heads as far to the right as the guttered ditch will permit just in time to see the C-10 and the Caravan crest the hill side by side and fifty feet to impact.

Ben’s eyes wide and Janet’s voice at full song he cranks the wheel hard right hoping Sissy has enough room.

For six people time stops for a second, for many, their last second. Ben cleared neither the Caravan nor the Vicky catching Randy twenty percent head on sandwiched between two immovable objects. The interior space is growing smaller and smaller as Edna is collected into the grill of the Caravan. From Earls point of view it’s a cloud of red mist and twisting steel……

Sissy sister wonders what is taking her sister so long tonight. A month from now the courts will split the twins into foster care. Ben’s son fairs little better. Relatives take him in but the insurance will not cover his life expenses and education. A burden his Uncle will bear.

Earl’s retirement becomes years of mental therapy funded by the farm which fails under the strain after two years and is sold for his expenses. Edna's coffin is buried empty close casket.

Randy is the least damaged. Seat beat bruising and air bag rash. He will not have a peaceful night’s sleep the remainder of his life.

There are real people with real lives with real stories behind every wheel and they all matter. There is no legal or moral justification for breaking laws meant to bring order and safety to us all and decide for all others which stories get told or whose life is important enough to live. 


That's one Paradigm. And the other would be........:lurk:



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