When John was finally coherent enough to communicate, the first question I asked was, “What the hell were you thinking?”
He was brought into the emergency room with nothing but a helmet and his wallet. His motorcycle crash was so severe, his clothes were cut off at the scene in order to save his life.
While his life was spared, his memory was not. He had no recollection of what happened.
He told me he remembered leaving a little dive bar near Petaluma after stopping in for a beer, and was excited to get to my house. Coming up on a long line of traffic on Highway 12, he rolled on the throttle and passed several cars heading up a hill.
It was then he noticed a CHP car and glancing down at the speedometer, made the split second decision to twist his wrist even further and open up the throttle all the way.
Lying in the ICU hospital bed, still bloody and battered, he told me the next thing he remembered was seeing my face in the emergency room.
When John’s brother arrived, I told him everything I knew. We agreed the first order of business was to make sure John was okay, and we’d have to discuss the rest later. Oh, and it was best not to tell his Mom about the “extra” stuff.
Each day we waited to see if the bleeding in his brain was going to get worse and need surgery, or if he would stabilize and heal on his own.
The brain surgeon assigned to John’s case was about as contemptuous as the ER doctor had been. But when he asked John the same question I did, John’s response made him stop and he actually smiled.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he asked.
“Clearly, I wasn’t”, was all John said.
For whatever reason, in that moment, Dr. Brain Surgeon decided John was probably a good guy caught in a bad situation. John can have that effect on people. Before long the two of them were chatting about being authors and the good doctor asked if John would read the book he had written.
After he heals, of course.
On the fourth day the doctor announced John was out of the woods and wouldn’t need brain surgery. With that John wanted out. I brought some clothes of his from my house and helped him get dressed to leave.
Not waiting for a nurse to bring the required wheelchair, we walked out of that hospital and into an uncertain future.
I may not have known what was going to happen and if John would be going to jail, but there were some things I could control.
Being the practical person I am, I’d already located his wrecked bike along with a bag of his belongings the tow truck driver had retrieved from the road.
I also found a truck and trailer to borrow to get his motorcycle out of “jail” and bring it along with John back to my place, where he stayed to convalesce.
He spent his days stretched out on a chaise lounge on my deck recovering and trying to remember what happened and why he’d made that fateful decision. Turns out, he not only forgot the accident, but also the words he said to me the night before crashing his bike while running from the cops.
It would be a long time before I would hear those three words again.