Stories by Emily Hoover
  1  Surge
3  Angelo Loves Tammy
4  El Brutál
5  Real Fun
  6  Tectonics of Time
  7  Some Kind of Saint
  8  Snitch
  9  Demolition
10  Reflections at Aqua Key West

  About the Author  |  |  Summer 2021 Fiction Issue

Some Kind of Saint

KP said eulogies for them, the dearly departed. He bowed his head, closed his eyes, drew in breath, and handcrafted a short speech, hoping the small action would help guide the deceased to their final resting place. KP didn’t always say the eulogies to himself, though. Once, when he responded to a call involving a vehicle that had blocked the street, he asked the trooper who had made the call if he wanted to participate in the eulogy with him, before the paramedics loaded the body into the ambulance. But the trooper just made fun of KP for having a heart in a profession ruled by tin men.

The trooper laughed. “A speech?”

KP remembered the paramedics cutting the man’s seatbelt off, and he noticed a gold wedding ring when they unfastened his hands from the steering wheel. “He was married. Might’ve had a family.”

The trooper patted him on the back. “Here you are sending that dead bastard into heaven with some respect when I reckon he didn’t have no respect for the road or other drivers on it. What are you, some kind of saint?”

KP dragged the mangled vehicle, a brand new Cadillac DeVille, onto the flatbed. The Cadillac would end up at the salvage yard as scrap metal. KP wished heaven was similar and imagined God rebuilding fractured bodies the same way vehicles die and are reborn.

After that day, KP said the eulogies to himself. He did so every time he arrived at a crash site and saw the victims. He’d split his twenty years in the profession between rental companies and salvage yards and had towed thousands of vehicles—seeing just as many dead bodies as impatient tourists—becoming thick-skinned to it all. The breakdowns and repairs were easy enough if oncoming traffic would move over or slow down. KP had a couple close calls but still went home to his wife every night and answered his phone every morning, no matter how early. He knew most dispatchers by name. Most people wrecked because they were speeding, but this was almost always combined with road rage, drug use, rain, or just plain inexperience. No matter the cause, everyone who died perished because of sheer force. The road was the great equalizer; it had the power to vanquish.

Nothing could have prepared KP for what he saw when he arrived at the intersection of US 98 and US 60 in Bartow, south of Lakeland. It was just after sunrise and the sky was peach-colored—cruel against the scratched up, fluid-soaked pavement and flashing emergency lights. As he leapt out of his rig, the trooper, a slight blond woman in her 50s, told him that the motorcycle had slid under the truck it collided with. The Ford F-150 had a smashed front end, a dented hood, and a detached bumper. KP saw the bumper lying on the shoulder of the road close to where the clean-up crew had placed the orange cones. The driver-side door was ajar and the driver of the truck? Gone. It looked like he had tried to stop when the motorcycle went under—its rider still attached—judging from the skid marks on the asphalt. He likely registered what had happened to the rider’s body when it became sandwiched between the truck’s undercarriage and the road and it spooked him, so he ran off. He was probably intoxicated, driving on a suspended license, or without proof of insurance. Possibly all three.

It was KP’s job to move the truck, make way for oncoming traffic. But he stood still, eyes fixed on the motorcycle now positioned by the clean-up crew beyond the truck; it was so torn up that KP couldn’t see what make it was. He realized now that the rider’s body was still attached to the motorcycle during impact because the handlebars had impaled him through the chest after he leaned into a lane change, probably too hard and with too much speed. Every bone in his body looked to be broken except for his skull, protected by a black helmet. He watched the paramedics struggle to separate the man’s body from the bike; the contortion of his body was unnatural, gruesome. KP edged closer, studied the man’s gloveless hands. Beneath the drying blood, he could see the man had the words “hopeless romantic” tattooed on his knuckles and a silver band on his left ring finger. He wove these details into the eulogy playing in his head. An officer placed a black tarp over the motorcyclist’s body, and KP looked up.

“You okay?” The trooper was beside him. He could see the Kevlar vest through her uniform. He realized that without it, she was even smaller than she looked.

“I’m fine. A tragedy, though, that. Hit and runs always get me. Sorry for the delay.”

“Me too,” she said. “And it’s not a problem. Thank you for what you do.”

No one had ever thanked KP for his dirty job before, nor had they thanked him for his service in Vietnam. He nodded, eyeing the line of cars swelling with each changing streetlight. “Thank you, ma’am.”

“Before you go.” She placed her palm on his shoulder. “My daddy used to say that tow truck drivers are unrecognized saints. I thought you might like to know that.”

KP smiled feebly and left her, passing the cars carrying rubberneckers just waiting for a look at the carnage. KP shook his head disapprovingly at them and thanked God for the miracle of life. As he began the tie down process for the Ford, he hoped his next call would be a flat tire.


  © Emily Hoover, 2021

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