It was the red shorts.
She was driving to work and caught them out of the corner of her eye.
A jogger, do people still call themselves joggers? Probably not. Now everyone was a runner. In training for a marathon. Or a tri...tri what? Maybe it's try. Maybe she has been hearing it wrong. Try athletes. Not tri-athletes. Like maybe they are out jogging, excuse me, running because they are trying to be athletes.
Anyway...he was wearing red shorts.
As she drove past him she saw the flash of red out of the corner of her eye. His red shorts.
But she didn't realize that's what she was seeing. She just knew that there was a splash of bright red on the side of the road.
She didn't realize at the time it was red shorts and he was a runner and it was all normal. She just saw the splash of red.
That's what she told the officer anyway.
Not right away. I mean she didn't call the police because she saw a splash of red on the side of the road. That would have been crazy.
She called the police when she saw the story about the hit and run accident.
And even then she didn't call them right away.
She saw the splash of red out of the corner of her eye when she was walking in to the bar. The News was on the TV in the corner and they were talking about the accident. As she walked to the table by the window she saw the splash of red. And it made her think, I've seen that splash of red before.
That's when she found out it was a jog...runner. Wearing red shorts. The red shorts caught someone's attention on their drive in to work. They saw it as they were driving by and something didn't seem right so they had pulled over and gone back to look. They found him on the berm.
Berm is an odd word. She had thought for a long time people were saying burn. Which didn't make sense. They weren't burning the grass they were planting it in hills. Building a berm to block the view of the new construction. To keep people from seeing them. Unless, of course, they were wearing bright red shorts. Berm.
So now she had her drink and she was watching someone else who had seen that splash of red and had stopped and found him. It made her feel as though she probably should have stopped. But she hadn't. For a splash of red? Who does that? Well, except for the man on the News.
It had been a splash, a flash of red. How did he even know it wasn't right? How many other colors did he stop for each day? Did a splash of blue make him slow down? Or was it just red? Yellow? Orange? Pink? Pink would have probably led him to slamming on his brakes and putting the car in to reverse right away.
She laughed out loud.
She hadn't noticed she was laughing until people in the bar turned and stared at her. She didn't blame them. She was sitting by herself watching a News story on a hit and run and the hero who had stopped and she was laughing. Was it laughing? She tried to stop. It sounded a little hysterical. And it wasn't really funny.
She was probably feeling guilty that she had just driven on. Was he still alive when she had seen the splash of red? If she had realized something was wrong and stopped like the man on the News would it have been in time? Or was it too late by then. Had he already felt the berm?
She snorted and laughed again. Slamming her drink down and signalling for another.
It had been a spectacularly bad day. She had been late for work. She had spilled coffee on her keyboard. Again. IT was not impressed. She had called her boss by the wrong name. Which wasn't her fault. She had one of those names that are too close to other names. The number of Christines, Katherines, Cathys, Courtneys, Calistas, what ever. What happened to Rhonda and Lisa and Darlene? When did people start naming their kids the same name? Three hundred Britneys, Britnees, Britnays in her nephew's graduating class. It wasn't her fault. Not really.
Anyway once Crystal was through berating her for being late, ruining a keyboard and calling her Catherine she had told her that the company was bringing in an expert to run the Lakeridge account. Excuse me? She was an expert on the Lakeridge account. She had been running it for the past year hadn't she? Well, yes she had but apparently some things had slipped lately so they felt it would be good to get someone in who maybe had a firmer grasp on the fine details. She would, of course, be needed to help. And she would still be handling the other aspects of her job.
The filing. The making copies. The getting coffee. She was being pushed back down to being a glorified secretary. Again. She had been with the firm since she graduated college. She had worked up from intern to managing partner. Well not partner. Almost partner. She had been so close she could almost taste it. Then it had fallen apart.
She signaled for another drink. Was shocked when she looked down and saw she'd already had two empty glasses on the table. How did that happen?
She had been about to make partner. Had already started looking at new condos downtown. Ones she would be able to afford when that raise came through. Maybe a vacation to Europe. A tour. That's what they called them. A European tour. Partners got extra time off. More money. More vacation. She was right there. Then she wasn't.
A splash of red.
She laughed again. It was a splash of red that did her in wasn't it? Jerry got caught with a bright red lipstick stain on his boxers. His wife didn't wear bright red. Jerry decided to retire. His wife had given him the option. Retire or divorce. And he had chosen to retire. And her dreams of being partner retired with him. They couldn't fire her. They knew that. She could sue. So they kept her. For all the good it did her.
A splash of red.
She signaled to the bartender that she would be signing out now. When she got her tab she was amazed at how expensive a couple of drinks had gotten.
The News had switched over to an entertainment show. The latest it girl talking about her latest summer blockbuster. Wearing a cut down to her navel shirt and laughing at the host like he was the funniest man in the world. She did a slow blink watching them flirt. As the starlet leaned back you could see the edge of her bra. Just a little splash of red.
She got in her car and started the drive home. Slowly. There was no reason to rush. What did she have waiting there anyway? The trash and recycling that needed to go out tonight? Was that all? She didn't want to rush for that. She wouldn't put her containers out until late. She knew her neighbors were judging her. Like none of them had bottles to put out. She knew they did.
She saw the News van on the side of the road as she got close. They were broadcasting from the scene of the hit and run. Why did they do that? Go out where something had already happened? Did they expect to see the ghosts of newsworthy events past? Ridiculous. Shouldn't they be on a beach somewhere waiting for a hurricane?
She laughed again.
She drove past the News van. Past the berm. Past where the splash of red had been.
Well where it had been when the hero saw it.
She passed where it was when she noticed it a few feet past that point.
She could hear it again. The thud he made when he hit her car. She felt it. The way the car shook when he ran in to her. Because he had run in to her. She would have seen him if he had been on the edge of the road the whole time. He was wearing those damn red shorts after all. But she hadn't. Not until he was on her hood. Then flying up and over to the berm. Landing in a way that no one would ever land naturally.
Just a splash of red.
When she got home she called the police. She told them she had seen the News story about the hit and run. She told them her side of the story. That it hadn't been her fault. He had run in to her. She hadn't even noticed it except as a splash of red out of the corner of her eye. Not really. Then she told them where to find the car. She hung up the phone and had another drink. Then another. She took her trash and recycling out and sent Crystal an email message.
Then she filled the bath tub and sank in to the warm water clutching her glass so tightly it shattered in her hands. Across her wrists. Up her arms.
Just a splash of red....