And there we sat in the intersection with the morning patrons of Union Street Station gaping out the windows as they sipped their breakfast beers. I had come to terms that all the children were ok as was my prized Betta fish.
I focused on the car I had hit; a brand new Mustang and the driver frantically running over to make sure everyone was ok. Everyone was, I assured her, but her car was totaled. I mean obliterated. My Volvo front quarter panel was merely crunched. And the full realization of what had happened was sinking in.
Cars whizzed up - first the father of the other party. . .and being a small town, I can tell you it was my favorite carpet cleaner. Oh crap! She ran up to him and he threw his arms around her asking what had happened. I knew not to admit fault (but duh, I'm turning into her lane - it was kind of obvious) and then out of some other car pops the insurance guy who conveniently serviced both the Mustang and the Volvo and just happened to be driving by with his camera handy. He wanted the story. At that moment, and because we were located almost directly in front of the police station, out comes the local constabulary to control the scene. In hindsight, I am pretty sure that the police conducted a formal game of rock, paper, scissors to decide who had to go out and deal with the whole mess.
So, Insurance Man is clicking away on his camera, Carpet Cleaner is consoling his daughter as she cried over her, BRAND NEW, only owned it 24 hours totaled Mustang, the Beer Gang at Union Street are applauding and whooping and hollering and I tell the story to the cop.
"And then, officer, the fish jumped out of the water onto the back seat floor, and I turned to see because I knew the fish would die if it didn't get back in the water, and I was turning onto Union and then veered into the oncoming lane and hit her car."
"So, your saying," the officer was suppressing a laugh, but I could see his mouth twitching, "that the fish caused the accident?"
"Yes." That was my story and I was sticking to it. The cop smirked and said I would be getting a ticket. I knew this might take time and had to get the older boys to pre-school so I pulled the baby out of the car seat handed him to the officer and said, "I have to take the boys to pre-school. I promise to come right back - I'll leave the baby to prove it!"
"That's ok, I believe you!" said the officer trying to hand the baby back. "Are you sure?" I asked.
"It's not like I have to haul you to jail - please take your baby back!" Panic was slowly creeping over his cool as a cucumber cop face and I thought, for a minute, about leaving the baby anyway. I mean what better to place than the police station, right? And perhaps, the officer would take pity on me. But, I didn't and did return to collect my ticket and the subsequent jump in insurance premiums.
And the fish? It survived the ordeal. The car? Bob estimated the cost at $2000. Expensive fish.