Swish swish, swish swish. The water is swept away by the wipers and it collects and pools together on the corners of the windshield. The headlights shine ahead onto a dark, empty road for a little ways ahead of me, and after that? Nothing. The cool air rushed through the AC on the dashboard and there is a soft voice all around me, assuring me that for the rest of the week there would be rain, but tonight I did not care about rain. I switch the radio off, leaving only the low hum of the engine and the cool breeze coming through the AC left for me to hear. Off in the distance I can see a low glow against the horizon, assuring me that I am coming closer to my home. I pass a blue sign on the side of the road, but I’ve seen it so many times that I do not bother to read it. I know my way around well enough. I pull off my two lane, one way road onto a small, one way, sideroad. Something is wrong though, I can hear sirens and I can see a glow, not like the glow that I saw on the horizon, but a new glow. It is unsettling. I shift in my seat as I draw closer to this noisy, glowing mess. As the sound gets louder I can start to make out some flashing lights. Was there some sort of accident on the access road by I-40? I think to myself. I slow down just in case. As I finally near the commotion my headlights illuminate a police car, then an ambulance, then some fire trucks. I cannot see past the fire trucks, but there are large clouds of billowing smoke going up into the air. I start to breathe in the putrid smell of burning rubber. I start to cough, it is a rough, unexpected cough. I cannot seem to shake it, it just keeps coming, and the smell is getting more and more overwhelming. I think someone walks up to the window and taps on it with a flashlight, but I am too preoccupied by my terrible fit of coughing to roll the window down. My coughing fit stops long enough for me to take in a deep breath, but the smell is awful, I feel light headed. My vision blurs and I black out. “This is the second accident this month, I cannot believe this,” Sergeant Jared said. He took a deep breath and looked at me. “ What do you think, Miller?” I just shake my head in response, looking on at the firefighters trying to keep the flames under control. “The paramedics aren’t going to have much to deal with, it looks to me as if both cars exploded on impact,” Jared shakes his head in agreement, “How did two cars collide together like that on a one way road though?” He had a point, it was strange. A head on collision like that usually doesn’t happen on one way roads. But I don’t have much time to think about it. At this moment a car comes up and pulls over to the side of the road. I cannot see very well, as it is dark, but it looks as though the driver is thrashing about quite a bit inside. I tell the Sergeant and make my way over to investigate. I take out my flashlight as I near the passenger side of the car. I switch it on and look inside. There is an older gentleman inside. He seems to be coughing. I tap the window, but he does not seem to hear me.
“Sir, are you okay?” I call out to him. He doesn’t seem to hear me and he is still coughing up a storm in there. I reach for the passenger side door handle. The man looks up, he seems to have stopped coughing for the moment. I call out to him again, but he still does not respond. The man’s head bows down and his mouth opens. I hit the window harder, calling for him. I make my way to the drivers side of the car, I look in to see what his problem is. His eyes are closed, his head is down, his mouth is open, and there is blood dripping off his lip. “Sergeant!” I call out. He runs over to me and I point to the man in the car. He looks in and seems to lock his eyes on the blood dripping off his lip and making a large pool in his lap. “I do not get paid enough for this,” He pulls out his walkie-talkie “Dispatch, get me paramedics.” He belts his walkie-talkie and looks inside the car. “The door is locked,” I explain, “I came over to see what was up and he didn’t seem to see me, he just kept coughing, and then...” I gesture toward the old man, indicating that his current state is what came next. “I see,” said jared, “Stay here until the paramedics arrive, then go home, get some rest. It has been a long night.” Click, click, click, click. I watch the newton balls bounce back and forth. I shift uncomfortably in my chair. A voice calls out my name, “Adam?” I look up at the doctor, remembering that I am in an office with another person. I clear my voice, “Yes?” “You do understand everything I just said, don’t you?” The doctor asked. I don’t answer immediately, I just look back down at the newton balls. He reaches out and stops the balls. I look up. “Well?” He asks. “Yes,” I said, “lung cancer. Totally inoperable,” I said. I smile at him, but that smile quickly turns into a frown and then into a coughing fit. “Now, Adam, we can let you go now, but first we would like to get one more CAT-Scan,” Doctor Shlu said. I sigh as I pull myself out of the seat and walk with Doctor Shlu. I try to comprehend what I just heard. It doesn’t seem to click in my brain. Cancer. I knew in the back of my brain it would be coming, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. 50 years old. How much longer will I have to live? Six months? This isn’t real, I’m just dreaming. This is all just a ploy, yeah thats it. Just a sick joke... Who am I kidding, I have cancer, and its all my fault. All of these years working in the mill. How am I going to be able to tell my wife? I unclick my holster from my belt and set it down on my bedside table with the grip of my glock facing the bed just so. Same as always. I switch on the TV to the news, just in case I hear anything about the crash last night, as I ended up leaving early after dealing with the coughing man. I turn it up loud and go into the bathroom to wash up. I run the water, getting ready to wash my face when I hear something on the television in the other room that catches my attention.
“In other news, The stock market is down yet again, leaving businesses and others to wonder. ‘Are we headed toward another recession?’” You’ve gotta be kidding me, I think to myself, Why can’t we get the economy under control, is it really THIS hard? I finish washing up and head back into my bedroom, the news is now going on about this kid at one of the high schools in the area getting a full scholarship to MIT. Good for him, maybe he will have more of a chance than me. A policeman, what was I thinking? I lay on the bed and close my eyes. Just take a short nap. Today has been a long day, maybe I will go out for chinese tonight, I do like chinese. I start to drift off when the phone rings. I pull my way out of bed and answer the phone. “Hello?” I mumble. “Miller? Its Chief Wilhelm, you think you can come by the station real quick? I need to talk to you” Said the man on the other end of the phone. “Yeah, sure. I’ll be right there,” I say, clearing my throat, “What’s the occasion?” “Just stop by, its a bit hard to explain over the phone,” He hangs up. I set the phone down. I wonder what he wants. Anywho, this gives me an excuse to go out for some chinese, as the station is a twenty minute drive from here. I grab my coat and my keys and get in my car. I switch on the engine and the radio blasts on. I wince at the noise and turn it down to a reasonable level. The news is going. “In recent news, since the sudden drop in the economy’s health, the national unemployment rates have been steadily rising. going from a healthy 5% up to 11%!” This puts some thoughts in my head, what if the chief needs to make some cuts? What if that is why he called me down to the station? No, thats ridiculous, they need me, Albuquerque is a big city after all. I sit there on the toilet, with the lid down, thinking. How could this happen? I am a good man! A good husband, a good father, a good worker. My son. How will I be able to tell my family that I have cancer? This is crazy! How could this happen to me?? This must be the mill’s fault, all of those chemicals and the smog being released. Maybe I should sue them. The money from the lawsuit would definitely pay for my cancer treatment and medical bills. A knock comes from the door, “Adam? Are you okay in there? Its time for dinner.” Said my wife from the other room. I clear my throat, “I’ll be down in a second,” I get up and look at myself in the mirror and take a deep breath. I flush the toilet just so that it seems like I was going to the bathroom, I don’t want my family to wonder what I was doing up in the bathroom for twenty minutes without flushing a toilet. I exit the bathroom and make my way downstairs into the living room for dinner. I don’t think I will tell my family tonight, I do not want them to worry. I will just wait for the results from the second CAT-Scan. I pull into the police station. I hesitate before I turn the engines off. If I am getting fired, will I be able to handle the news? I shake my head of these thoughts and decide just to wing it. I
pull my way out of the car and enter the station. I make my way down to the chief’s office but I hesitate again before knocking. If I do get fired, where will I go? I sure as hell am not going to work at McDonalds. But other than a police officer, that is all I can really take at this point. I can’t go back to college. I don’t have the money. I take a deep breath and knock on the door, “Come in,” the chief calls from the other side. I close my eyes, take another deep breath, and enter the room. Wilhelm looks at me, “Miller, take a seat,” I sit down. He pauses for a short while then continues, “I do not need to tell you that the economy is not so good, and from what I’ve been hearing in the news, I think we are going for a major recession, that means that we are going to need to make some cuts” I start to feel sick and the chair that I am sitting in suddenly doesn’t feel so comfortable anymore, but I build up the courage to ask, “So what’s up chief? Why do you need me down here?” I try to sound confident, but I don’t think it came across that way to the chief. “My wage has been cut down Miller, about as low as your wage right now. I can barely get by now, how do you think that makes my family feel, knowing that they cannot live a comfortable life anymore? And all of this inflation, pushing up the price of goods, making it gradually harder and harder. The only way they say I can stay afloat is by laying some people off, and, well...” Chief Wilhelm pauses and looks down at his desk. I am no longer worried, I know what is coming, and it makes me mad, no, furious, “If you are going to say it, then just get it over with!” this was the first time that I have ever shouted at the chief, but at this point I did not care about his feelings towards me. “I’m sorry Miller, I have to let you go...” He looks away. I sit here, on the toilet again, toilet lid down, waiting for the call. I stare down at my phone. 9:00PM. I’m not sure I want to hear the news, but I guess its important, it will show whether or not treatment is available for me. Even if treatment is available, how will I be able to pay for it? My phone buzzes in my hands, I answer it. “Hello?” “Hi, Adam, this is Doctor Shlu, just calling to tell you that your CAT-Scan came back as a positive, you are available for treatment-” The rest is just mumbles to me as I think about what I am going to do next. I thank Doctor Shlu and hang up the phone. But it buzzes again, its the mill. “Hello?” a ask the person on the other end. “Hey, Adam, it Gordon,” What does Gordon want? He usually does not call on the weekends. “Hey, Gordon, what’s up?” I ask “Well, we have to drop a lot of our inventory levels, there seems to be a serious lack of demand for flour in this area. Because of this we might have to drop your pay a bit, but we will see,” Gordon told me. I said okay, and we chatted for a bit. He talked to me about his son trying to start up a new business but it was hard, apparently a lot of businesses nowadays are having a hard time getting on their feet. After that we said our goodbyes and I flushed the toilet, as I do,
and went to bed, I think I will tell my family tomorrow about the cancer, but I wonder how they will respond. He donâ€™t have much money in the first place, and now, with the mill and the fact that my pay might be lowered... This just make things even more difficult. The economy just makes everything more difficult.