Traffic moved forward sluggishly. My car groaned as I tapped on the brakes and slumped in the hot leather chair. Through the opened window I was drowned in a sea of exhaust and a myriad of other aromas from the sweltering restaurants that lined the side streets. Hamburgers, fried fish, teriyaki and other savory scents drifted on the thick air and made my stomach grumble. The traffic had gone on forever and I was starting to get hungry.
Slamming my hands on the warm wheel, the miniature bobble head cat on my dashboard bounced with more energy than the road or other commuters around me. I glared at it enviously until it slowed and finally settled to as still a stop as I was being forced to endure. My eyes were drawn away as horns started to beep farther ahead. Brake lights began to flicker out and once more, we all fought to inch forward another foot or two.
As my car sagged to a stop again, I watched the pedestrians I had seen a few blocks earlier finally pass by on the sidewalk. A runner came down the other side of the street, adjusting her Velcro arm strap and the pips that dangled up to her ears. I glared at them all as they avoided the line of heated vehicles, the clouds of carbon monoxide and actually got somewhere.
The line of metal, rubber and irritated drivers pushed forward once more. I craned my head out of the window and tried to see what was keeping us confined in the canyons of apartments and office buildings. A few cars ahead started to turn to the right, and I caught the glimpse of orange traffic cones guiding their passage through the streets. Darker smoke was drifting in heavier waves from a clump of bashed blue and red metal that I assumed used to be a pair of cars.
My irritation quickly waned as I slowly moved forward. An ambulance was busily being filled while it’s red and blue lights whirled silently. Medics hassled with rolled sleeves and sweat stained backs as they treated one of the victims. My eyes were drawn to a small black and white polka dot bag on the ground, covered in glass and glittering shrapnel. How it had gotten through the crunched accident, I couldn’t say.
A cop was moved us all along the line of cones and flares, but though the road was narrowed down to one lane, we were all slowing to take in the scene. We were all hoping we wouldn’t end up like that. By the time the street opened up and I was navigating the roundabout that circled the familiar statue of Teddy Roosevelt, mounted and pointing west, the images were already fading. As I changed lanes, a black Mustang sped up behind me, cut me off, and I blared my horn.