Mystery, She Wrote

Blood! There were drops of blood all over the deck at my back door. My heart jumped and a lump formed in my throat. A scenario of how they came to be there instantly formed in my mind based on noises I’d heard during the night.  Someone had needed help, but if they rang the door bell, I had never awakened! Guilt seared my conscience.

At bedtime the night before, I had leaned over to peer out my second floor bedroom window. My house sits next to a bridge that spans a small river. The tree leaves along the river shimmered in the moonlight. As I looked, the country-side darkness was sliced open by the headlights of a car speeding past. Its tires went, “thip-thip” over a bump in the asphalt near the bridge. In the silence following it’s passing, a frog croaked.

I am usually a light sleeper, but had slept poorly the night before. After only a short read, I turned out the bedside lamp and quickly fell into an exhausted, deep sleep.

The sound of a fire truck siren jerked me awake exactly an hour and a half later. Instead of screaming past my house as I expected it to, the siren stopped at the bridge below my window with a suspenseful whoop. I leaped out of my bed with a pounding pulse.

Had a passing car swerved to avoid hitting a deer…or a raccoon? The road in front of my home is a popular crossing area for the local wildlife. I often see deer playing ‘chicken’ with cars during the day. A month ago while preparing for bed, I’d heard the screech of tires and a bang. Kneeling at my bedroom window, I saw someone get out of the car and stand in its headlights. Talking on her cell phone, she had said, “Dad, I hit a raccoon. Some plastic broke off the front of my car.”

Since the fire truck was there, I rationalized that whoever had the accident had summoned help and would be all right. I went back to bed and listened for more sirens. “The accident couldn’t have been too bad,” I thought, “if only a fire truck responded to the scene.” If an ambulance showed up, I never heard its siren because I returned to a deep-deep slumber.

My complacency was shattered the next day when I stepped out my backdoor and found drops of blood on the deck. Horrified, I looked toward the bridge. One of the guardrails was grotesquely twisted out of shape. A neighbor was parked in my lower driveway looking at the damage.

Striding across my lawn, I called out to the man, “Do you know what happened here?”

My neighbor must have thought he was Davie Crocket tracking a bear. He dropped to the bridge deck and began sniffing. He bellowed excitedly, “I smell anti freeze and there’s a scrape in the road here. The car must have flipped over.” Scrambling to his feet, he dropped closer to the damaged guardrail. “I smell engine oil here.”

I looked down into the river bed and saw plastic and metal things that obviously had come from a badly damaged car. Then, on the blacktop, I saw a few drops of blood. Inspired by my neighbor, an Angela Lansbury moment washed over me. Pointing out the blood to my overly excited neighbor, I slowly walked back to my house.

Not wanting my neighbor to know what I was doing, I discreetly followed the trail of blood which led to my gravel driveway. The person in the accident HAD come to my backdoor! Where did the injured person go when he didn’t find help from me?

Accidents that happen in the countryside seldom are reported in the local newspaper unless someone dies. I was left wondering what had happened until last week. My doorbell rang and I found a young girl standing on the deck. She said, “I’m the one who had the accident on the bridge the other night. At first I didn’t know where my phone was. When I was standing at your backdoor, I remembered that I had a cell phone in my jacket and then noticed I was dripping blood on your deck. I’m sorry.”

Surprised that the accident victim turned out to be a woman, I exclaimed with relief, “I’m so glad you weren’t badly hurt!”

The mystery has been solved, but I’m still left with blood stains on my deck. Even the six inches of rain that has fallen since the accident has failed to wash them away. I no longer feel guilty when I see them, but like Lady Macbeth, I want to shout, “Out, damned spot(s)!”

– Yahoo Mail.


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