In the early years of our marriage Barb and I went out quite often with one or more of the boys. The boys consisted of my friends that I had grown up with which included Ronnie, Larry, Scott, Mike among many others. We would go to batting cages, to midnight drive-ins or to a pool hall and maybe play some miniature golf. We were free and easy and whatever we felt in the mood of doing we pretty well did.
It was in late October when Barb and I went out with Mike to play some pool. It was more than a pool hall. They had an arcade filled with pinball machines, a pool hall with twenty tables and three miniature golf courses. Crest Fun Center was a place we went to quite a bit and if we decided to play pinball instead of pool everything was there for us. This was a pool playing night which pretty much left Barb on the sidelines. Actually the only thing Barb could really do at the Crest was play miniature golf. She was too short to get up over the pool table to make any decent shot and she couldn't see the top of the pinball machines. She was always a good sport though and when we went she cheered me on as I played some of the worst pool this side of the Mississippi
It was late and dark when we left the Crest Center and headed back to the apartment. Rain had begun to fall and the streets were a little slick. The moisture outside the car and the cool air had caused the inside of the car to fog up a bit making it hard to see. Mike was driving his little Chevy Vega which held two people in the front seats and maybe a small child in the back. The Vegas were not very large cars.
Because of the size of the Vega, Mike was driving and I was in the passenger seat with Barb sitting in my lap holding onto the dashboard. It wasn't the safest way to travel but it had always worked before. I enjoyed Barb sitting on my lap as I was able to rub her back or her arms while we let Mike do the driving.
As we headed home we were coming up on the stadiums. The stadiums were the first of their kind in the country. There was Arrowhead which housed the Chiefs and Royals where the baseball team played. Two stadiums sitting side by side sharing the same parking lot. Kansas City was way ahead of it's time.
As came around the curve in the road that would take us in front of the stadiums the Vega crossed the center line of the road. I am still not sure how or why it happened and we sure weren't sure about it immediately after wards. As we came around that slight curve barely on the wrong side of the road another car suddenly appeared. There was not time for adjustments and the cars hit head on bringing each of them to a sudden stop. The only thing that did not come to a sudden stop was Barb's head. Her body left my lap and her head crashed through the windshield.
We sat in the car stunned. None of us moved for what seemed hours. Mike kicked open his door and came around to help me get the other door open. By this time Barb was crying not only from pain but also from fear. She had put her hand up to her head and felt the blood coming out.
The rain had increased in intensity a bit and so it was a fairly miserable ordeal. We walked Barb over to a gas station and laid her down inside on the floor. For the first time Mike and I could see the damage Barb had sustained. It was about a three inch gash across her forehead from just over her one eye angle to her hair line on the other side of her face. It was bleeding bad as heads do.
Mike was in the process of studying to become a paramedic. The job he was working towards would be riding in ambulances and doing triage medicine on people until they arrived at a hospital. While Mike was talking to the other driver and exchanging information I was finding someone who would call the police and an ambulance for us. Thankfully there was a very nice lady there who had already done so.
While I was making sure calls were being made and Mike was talking with the other driver one of the gas station attendants came over and kneeled down next to Barb. He told Barb he had medical training and just wanted to look at the wound. Personally I think he just wanted to look at the wound out of curiosity. I can understand that way of thinking. I have a morbid kind of curiosity much in that same vein. I won't go into detail because some of you would take me for crazy and shy away from me. Don't get me wrong, I am crazy to a degree, but all facets of the human condition do fascinate me. Barb told the guy not to touch her that her friend was studying to do just this kind of thing. He was insisting on lifting her skin off of her forehead where the gash was when she yelled for me and Mike to come to her rescue. When we got there Mike told the man to back off. He held up his hands and slowly moved away just as the ambulance was arriving.
Before I got into the ambulance with Barb I looked at Mike and said something I wish I never would have said. I have done this a lot of times to various people. I have learned that I shouldn't say something yet I do. I have learned that once I do it there is no putting it back. I told him the accident was his fault. This was my mistake. It was not my place to make a judgment on this. God had looked over us and Barb was alive when she could have been killed that night. The ambulance took Barb to the hospital to get stitched up and Mike made arrangements to be there later. I am not sure how he got there but he did.
At the hospital they sewed up Barb's head, wrapped it heavily in gauze and tape and gave her some pain pills that would make her very loopy over the next few days. I took her home and nursed her the best I could. Basketball was on hold for a while.
Two nights later was Halloween. We decided to go over to my mom's house that evening and help them pass out candy. There was a big turn out that year and we were going through the candy pretty quick. Eventually mom and dad had to go to the store to get some more leaving Barb and myself at their house alone.
While they were gone a knock came at the door. Without thinking Barb went and got the candy dish and opened the door. The five year old children's eye grew wide and we heard a collective "woooow" come from their lips as they saw her bandaged head, her black eye and swollen face. One of them complimented Barb on her costume. It was a very very good costume. I think it was the first time Barb had smiled since the accident.
We saw Mike a few more times after that. He started coming around the apartment less and less in the days after the wreck. Eventually he said he was moving and then he was gone out of our lives forever. I am afraid it was my comment to him out in the middle of the road on that rainy night that caused him to distance himself away from us. He was a very sensitive man and I can see him letting the guilt overwhelm him and feel that we did not want him around. Nothing was further from the truth. I know I shouldn't have told him what I did, but he was still a very close friend that both Barb and I cared for deeply.
I still hope that one day he will show up back in Kansas City and surprise us on our front door step. If he does, I will tell him I am so sorry for letting that one sentence slip from my mouth.
Both of us miss him.