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Saturday, January 15

Shock and Awe in Beauvais' Streets

It happened right in front of the laundromat, just as I was straightening from loading the dryers. He sailed past the all-glass front, slighty higher than the parked cars, arms windmilling in slo-mo while sparks sprayed up from beneath him. He was even going left to right, like any self-respecting super-hero. I slammed the dryer shut, dropped a coin in it while the breathless murmur of the crowd outside swelled, and as the machine spun up, dug my cellphone out of my back pocket. I dialed 112 (local equivalent of 911) and walked out of the laudromat to find a street-sign as the dispatcher asked me where I was. I glanced right, and the leather-clad, helmeted superhero was already righting his damaged motorcycle, with people around him. I counted three cellphones being held to their presumable owners' ears. I turned left, for that street sign, and stuttered to a stop, unable to answer the frantic voice in my numb hand. Flat on his back, blood already flowing six feet to the gutter, an old man lay still, in the middle of a scattered array of fresh groceries. A dozen people stood around him, unmoving like me, all the cars were stopped, and it was like the world had stopped turning. By the time my tongue came unstuck from the roof of my suddenly very dry mouth, the 112 dispatcher was asking me if i was calling from the corner of the Place du Marché about the Motorcycle/Pedestrian accident? I babbled that I was, yes, he thanked me for calling, and I hung up. The paramedics were there thirty seconds later, and they whisked the old man away, while the police took custody of the blue superhero. I went back to my laundry as the firemen hosed off the pedestrian crossing, restoring it to its pristine black and white, and the world lurched back into motion. I just watched the dryers spin until my stuff was dry, didn't feel like reading my book anymore. Location : Beauvais, France

1 Insights :

Blogger james intuited...

Wow Mathieu. That sounds like it was a horrible experience. I came upon a similar scene in Africa when a taxi ran right into a man on a bicycle and it was messy. I couldn't get the images out of my head for awhile and to this day it kind of haunts me. I hope that you can grapple with what you saw. It certainly reminds us of how life is so short and precious. Live each day like it is your last. Know that I am glad to know you and have your in my life. My wife feels the same way. Take care mon ami and hang in there. That was a difficult experience to say the least.

1/15/2005 06:25:00 PM  

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