after the garage punk concert, I made it an early night and was on my way home by 9:45 or so. Now that may seem early to you. But 9:45 p.m. on a Sunday night in the French countryside is a wasteland. pitch black, unlit country roads ... dark as dark gets when the stars are tucked in for the night under a duvet of thick rain clouds. sleek slippery roads.
I stopped after my evening 2 beer limit (thankfully) and had a Perrier as my one for the road. My ride home is really only about 20 minutes from Les Toqués, especially on a deserted Sunday evening. Being aware that because not many people are out on the road at this time/day, I was paying close attention as I'm sure any gendarmes who had ventured out would have their caps set for a quick ticket.
I was making my way on the wet dark road at about 80-85kph in a 90kph area. I rounded a bend and up ahead in the distance I could see some systematically flashing lights. they were oddly out of place and I immediately suspected one of those random DUI stops the cops set up on week-ends to snag unsuspecting victims. as I grew closer I could see it wasn't that ... but not sure what it actually was. Just as I was about on top of the scene, it dawned on me that it was an overturned car. glass and detritus littered the road. the smell of burnt rubber and metal was in the air as I slowed and lowered my window, turning down the music. it was so fucking dark. it seemed like whatever happened had just occurred. it was eerily quiet as I pulled to the side of the road and fumbled for my purse. my heart was pounding. I immediately felt on the edge of tears as I crossed the road, repeating to myself under my breath, "please no dead people, please no dead people".
I started to get down on my hands and knees, feeling the crunch of glass and debris, and peer through the broken window...I lost grasp of what language to call out in, finally just saying 'quel qu'un? est quel qu'un la?' I heard nothing and saw the same ... and then another car miraculously turned the bend ... I jumped up and started waving my hands and bag in the air and over my head ... a man emerged from the car and also shouted, but to me ... "Quel qu'un?" I replied, "oui ... je pense mais j'ai juste arrivé" and there was a woman with this newly arriving man and I screamed at her to call for help ... then we heard someone saying "oui" ... we reached down again ... it was a man grabbed a hand and he was pulled free ... he was obviously dazed ... and kept repeating "oh, ma voiture, ma voiture" in a distressed voice and kind of shuffling about ... I returned to his car and knelt down again. The man was so out of it, I just wanted to make sure there wasn't someone else inside ... it was really impossible to see much of anything in there, but I couldn't hear anything either. as the 2 men talked, I again was struck with how dark it was and how poorly placed we were. Not wanting another accident to occur, I got in my car and made a U-turn so I was facing the damaged car about 10 feet away and put on my flashers. Monsieur was still upset about his car and I told him I thought he was lucky and in fact, he was alive! he was getting a bit more coherent now and was saying how it was his fault, he was going too fast. Another man who stopped asked him if he had been drinking to which he replied "oui, un peu ... " A few more cars began to assemble and I was being asked if I had been a passenger... I think because I was visibly upset.
Ever since my husband was killed in a car accident so many years ago, I have what I think is a considerably exaggerated reaction to car accidents. I find them very traumatic and unfortunately have witnessed 2 that resulted in deaths ... where I actually saw the thing occur and dead person afterward and those marked me.
It took a lot for me stop (of course, I had no choice) and even more for me to get out of the car and go over there. all I know is I am thankful the man wasn't hurt and even more thankful the 2nd car arrived within minutes of me. Once I realized that there were about 3 cars that had stopped to assist, all French and more helpful than I, I made the decision to take my leave. I approached the man (who I discovered also lives in Brantôme) and wished him well. He thanked me.
quite the finish to my rock hard week-end.
ridiculously, afterward I realized I didn't even know the number to call if someone hadn't arrived. now I do. dix-huit. 18. pompiers. fire department.
dix-huit. dix-huit. dix-huit.