Thursday, September 29, 2005

Part 3: Life

On to happier times. Like now.

As I'm writing this, Lisa is asleep in bed, across the room. I can see her. Blonde hair, green eyes. Beautiful, creamy skin. My height minus a couple inches. Slim form, slender. I can lose myself kissing her neck. Sweet, innocent, nice. One of those just genuinely nice people.

I've got no idea what she's doing with me.

We met in the hospital. She was stuck in bed with a very low-grade back injury, and she'd fallen asleep and dropped her book. I was out on my twice-a-day shuffle around the place, using my IV tree like a sort of cane. No, more like a walker. I spotted her trying to reach the book--Bright Lights, Big City, a great novel, one of my personal favorites--and so I shuffled in, got my slippered foot underneath the book, and then lifted it up to the point where she could reach it. Said good-bye and you're-welcome and continued shuffling.

I got lonely the next day, so I went and visited her. And so it began. Visited every day. Met her folks. When she got out, she came and visited me. Brought me real food. Kissed me good-bye on my forhead. Wore pretty clothes so I knew that there were still nice things in the world, somewhere beyond all the misery and pain and IV drips and Japanese nurses and their annoying habit of always trying to help you use your damn bedpan even when you'd already told them you could do it yourself, even when you'd gotten to the point where you could make it to the little bathroom and use the toilet there without help.

I'd like to state, for the record, that never before have I had so many women trying to touch my penis, and it's the first time I've ever turned down a pretty girl that wanted to do that.

I got rolled out of the hospital in a wheelchair, dressed in one of my nicer black suits with a crimson shirt, and once I was outside, I stood up with my cane and started walking.

Lisa was waiting there for me.

Unfortunately, so were the Toyota jackasses trying to garner PR. About how they cared so much for me and wanted me to get better. There were cameras. I had my shot.

In Japanese, I said, "If you cared so much about me, why'd you fire me?"

Back in English, like I was some kind of simp that never picked up spoken Japanese: "You cannot drive."

A friend of mine was there with the pukes, and he had his 350Z with him. Very nice car, makes about 450hp of of a 275 base hp rating. I borrowed the keys, got in, and peeled out of where he'd parked it. Screamed around the corner in a nice drift, circled the block that way, and screched to a halt in front of the cameras. To be honest, I was surprised that I was able to do that. It hurt like hell. But it was good for the cameras.

I left in a nice car with a driver. And Lisa, of course.

Skip ahead through some more time. Things progressed. Her dad worked in the Tokyo headquarters of some US corporation, so she stayed with them. Once she spent the night with me at my hotel room.

We are very much together. We have an apartment here. We go to the same college. We sleep in the same bed every night. I'm discovering my skills as a cook. I'm playing my role very neatly. I'm doing my best to be a good man.

But I want to drive again. I miss it. Most of all, I want to go out and whup the shit out of the guy they got to replace me. It's about honor and ego and all the other good things I used to cherish so much. I know some people that would give me the chance.

Lisa is what keeps me from going out again. She deserves a normal life instead of one spent either missing me, hating me, or following me around foreign countries. It just wouldn't be fair to her. She would let me do it in a heartbeat, but I just can't stand to be anything but the kind of guy I know I'm not for her.

She makes me better than that. The way she makes me feel...her head resting on my bare chest, that kiss, that smile, those eyes...the way she cradles my head when the pain comes (and it still does).

I'm going to go to bed now. I'll slip in next to her and she'll put her head on my chest and her arm around me and I'll kiss her and whisper that I love her. And in the morning, we'll wake up together, and I'll go on trying to be a man worthy of her, an endless crusade I know I'll lose, but an effort she deserves.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Crash: Part 2

I don't remember the impact itself. There's a rather large and annoying blank spot right about there.

Here's what I do remember: I was cutting around the inside of an NSX on the tail end of a high-speed S-curve. Then one of my observers said something about a Skyline coming up on my inside. The automatic part of my brain handled the driving while the part that thinks about things thought that there was no way this particular Skyline could outturn my Supra, especially at the speed we were doing, and especially since the driver was really, really bad at warding off understeer--

--crunch. That's the sound of a Skyline hitting the rear wheel fender panel. The Supra lost all traction in the back, skidded sideways, and plowed right off the track. No grip on any of the tires. No brakes. Yanking the anti-roll bar lever and clicking them all the way loose did nothing. Neither did the handbrake. Or jamming down on the throttle, or any of the things I did in the five seconds in between the impact of the Skyline and the time I slammed into the wall at one hundred and seventy miles an hour.

Crashes at that speed, with the zero deflection I had, are categorized as 100% lethal. Meaning that no matter what kind of safety equipment you have or your physical conditioning, you will not survive. You could crash and be in surgery at Walter Reid or Johns Hopkins within a minute and there's not a damn thing even they could do. You might survive the crash itself, but the wounds will be far too severe to live through. Frankly, you're lucky if they don't have to hose you out of the car.

The last thing I remember is seeing the giant ad stuck on the wall speeding towarsds my car and thinking, "Death is coming, and it is a goddamn PIAA billboard. I don't even like PIAA's shit, and I'm going to become a splatter on their billboard."

I closed my eyes just before I hit, and that's about where my memory stops.

The next thing I can remember experiencing is coming to in the car. My legs felt really funny. My stomach hurt. I had a really bad headache. My helmet felt kind of funny, and that was because my head had split it in two. All the vision in my right eye was clouded red. There was blood pretty much everywhere. I had been splattered all over the inside of the car, but most of the important stuff stayed put. It was just blood splattered everywhere. Mostly.

The first track rescue guy darted up to my window a few seconds later. I turned a little to look at him (the Head And Neck Restraint System--HANS--was broken), and he threw up. I got told later that I had said to him, "I think I'm hurt pretty bad" and that he threw up because he didn't think I could possibly be alive, much less conscious, and much much less able to speak.

Once he started wretching, my head slumped forward (I couldn't hold it up anymore) and noticed that my right thigh had a funny little S-curve to it that I didn't think it was supposed to have. That, and I could see the bones in my leg. They hadn't really so much been pushed through the skin as the skin and muscle had been mangled off the bone by the car collapsing around me.

I passed out again, and I wasn't awake for a week.

Let's go through my specific injuries, shall we? To keep things organized, I'll start at the bottom and work my way up:

-most of my toes were broken
-right ankle badly sprained
-left tibula (shinbone) broken, compound fracture through the skin
-right femur (thighbone) broken, bone twisted apart, open tear wound
-hairline fracture in pelvis
-three vertibrae in lower back were knocked out of alignment
-two ruptured discs in my back
-most of my internal organs were bruised, my right lung was partially collapsed
-both shoulders were dislocated by the safety harness
-my right arm was broken
-two seperate hairline fractures in my skull
-I suffered a concussion, bruising and swelling of the brain, and there was fluid in between my brain and my skull which required a shunt to drain

I had open brain surgery, a bunch of other surgeries, and some other stuff I'm still not sure about. I should have died, by all rights. Fully three-quarters of my blood found its way out of my body, but they were able to run enough into me to keep my body going.

When I did wake up, the first thing I saw was a cute-looking Japanese nurse sponging off my bare chest, and a whole lot of angry little black lines on my skin there that had apparently appeared during the big black space.

Leave a damn comment. I'm fairly bored.

Hurt

Sorry for not having written in so long. I've been in the hospital.

Crashes suck. Really hard crashes at a hundred and fifty into concrete walls suck even more. They have a funny tendency to break both the car and you.

Now here's the problem: When you're broken, you can't race. The company still has to pay you, but you're worthless. Never mind the fact that you just won them two championships and a manufacturer's title, you're just an expensive, battered lump of expense. And what's worse, they have to pay your medical bills. On top of that, you also just busted their umpteen-million-dollar car.

So what happens is, if you're still broken at contract renewal time, you lose your job.

Oh, they still pay your medical bills and they're nice enough to send you home in a first-class seat, but you're still out of work.

I fired my agent.

So now I'm going to school. Driving a nice car and living in a nice apartment, though. And I've got some gigs to work, with the possibility of maybe getting back into the game. But for now, I'm happy to be walking. I won't go into detail about my injuries, but they were pretty bad. The doctors were telling my folks, it's fifty-fifty he'll make it. I asked them on the side, alone.

They gave me one in ten.

No coma, just agonizing pain for three months straight because they're too damn afraid of killing you to give you painkillers. Coma would have been nice. Instead I was awake the whole time. Swelling in the brain, spinal injuries, damage to internal organs...note that there's no detail, just a rough sketch. I wanted to die. Very much so. Fuckers wouldn't let me.

So now I walk with a cane. It's not too bad. I can drive just fine (it's my right leg, which is used for the gas pedal alone if you're a serious driver, because you use your left foot for both braking and clutch). I can move pretty quick when I want to, so that means I still have the chance to drive. It just hurts to really move.

I met a nice girl. Her name is Lisa. Absolutely gorgeous and smart as a whip. Shes not just some sleazy lay like all the othes were. I love her. I think she might love me. Doesn't care about the limp and the cane. Doesn't care about the fairly gruesome scars, either, or the fact that I'm an asshole. I've even told her everything about the way I was, and that doesn't seem to matter much.

So I figure, I better get a ring on this girl quick. Funny thing is, I'm only half-kidding.

Now write some comments dammit, so I can kill a few minutes responding to them later.