When a patch of black ice sends Officer Teach’s cruiser into roll on Christmas, he’s
grateful to be rescued. Until he meets the dead cop who pulls him from the wreckage.
I would imagine that being in a car rolling down a steep hillside in the dark is much akin to being held in a very large sack suspended by a rope that is set to spin and then beaten repeatedly with a large piece of firewood.
While my lifestyle made this eventuality much more plausible for me than others, I’d never actually been in a sack and beaten (hung, spinning or otherwise). But I was definitely in a rolling car, and no matter how they may actually compare I have to say it was fairly horrible.
December is not a notoriously snowy or icy month in the South, but it is definitely very cold and very windy. Chattanooga was once infamous for its pollution. Like Los Angeles, it sits in a small bowl of mountains and bluffs, and as such most houses and businesses are protected by hills and trees—but not where I worked on the interstates; those were exposed to the elements, along with the wind and wind-chill that accompany them. So those signs that say “Beware of Ice on Bridge”? They are not messing around.
It was 4 a.m. or close to it on a Christmas morning. (I don’t really pay attention to time by this point in the shift as I go from call to call, or convenience store to convenience store. I carry a radio on my shoulder, a phone in my pocket, an Internet-connected computer on my console and the entire world around me to pay attention to so in the scheme of things “time” ranks low on my list of priorities.) But it was late, and I was coming down the ridge cut thinking about what a shitty day this had been, rolled up appropriately into a shitty week, month and year, come to think of it.
We’d lost friends. Cantankerous elected officials were no longer the exception but the norm now, so benefits and tools being shit-canned were no longer anything new to be upset about, but I was left wondering, as we tend to do, “Is it really worth it?”
I was thinking precisely this thought when much to my puzzlement my headlights started aiming in the wrong direction. I wasn’t driving towards the guard rails; that would be silly. Then I caught view of a hotel that had just been behind me, and a concrete dividing wall, then the rail again (but this time much larger, which was ridiculous because steel didn’t swell, only concrete did). This was unacceptable! I had places to be, and God help me now my coffee cup appeared to be spilling for no reason. (I actually thought all these things in the space of a second when I finally concluded “Oh! Crap! I’m spinning.”)
I was on the Westside Drive overpass and apparently had hit what folks call “black ice.”
My thoughts were interrupted by an annoying impact with the guardrail which I had pierced, but not without it clipping the lower portion of the car, causing it to move slower than the top half, and therefore spin.
(There are a few seconds from the time you leave a roadway and land on the ground beyond it which really, really stretch out, making the thought of “Hey. My pen,” seem reasonable when you find it suspended mid-air instead of dropping to the floor as most reasonable pens would do. It’s actually a safety mechanism for the mind to focus on minutia instead of “The Big Picture,” especially when that picture is one of you likely ending up as a bug on a cement truck windshield. But it’s still an interesting phenomenon to see things float, no matter briefly. I felt like an astronaut.)