Short Story
                                 Alison is Dead Tired
                                                         By William Quincy Belle


 Riley had been cruising the area in his tow truck during his evening shift, when Dispatch alerted him to
the accident.  Greg had radioed it in, saying he would be tied up on the highway near the main
interchange, not working the accident but because he was a witness.  Riley had stopped for coffee, so he
picked up an extra cup as it sounded like Greg would be a while.

 After leaving the coffee shop, Riley took the westbound on-ramp and headed down the highway.  By the
time he got to the scene, there were several police cars by the center guardrails closing parts of the
highway in either direction.  Emergency Rescue and an ambulance blocked the lane leading up to the
scene, and he watched as two paramedics removed a stretcher from the back.  Riley took his time
following the rerouted traffic before turning in front of Greg’s tow truck and parking ahead of the other
emergency vehicles.

 “Hey, Greg, what’s happening?” Riley asked.  He handed his colleague the cup of coffee.

 “Oh man, did this lady get creamed but good.” Greg took a sip of the coffee. “Thanks.”

 The two of them stood watching the emergency responders work around the vehicle.  “I was following this
car,” Greg said, “not too close when it veered left into the center guardrail.  It clipped it at an angle, then
scraped along it, the side of the car flush up against the metal, sparks flying everywhere.  Eventually, it
came to a stop.”  He pointed.  “I pulled in here, then jumped out to see if the person was okay.  The car
motor was racing like crazy.  It’s dark out, so I couldn’t see past the headlights.  I ran around to the
passenger side of the car and saw the windshield and roof on the driver’s side had been crushed.  I
opened the door to help and thought I was going to puke.”

 Riley nodded.

 “I reached in and turned off the engine,” Greg said, looking around him at the traffic.  People had been
forced to slow down, funneled from five lanes into three.  “She didn’t stand a chance.”

 Riley shook his head.

 Greg took another sip and continued.  “Christ, it could have been me.  I was right behind the woman.  A
second or two later and that tire would have been coming through my windshield.  Holy crap!  It’s by sheer
luck I’m not the one getting cut out of my truck.”

 Riley looked back at the car. “I wonder where the tractor-trailer is.”

 “Who knows?” Greg replied.  “Drivers don’t always know they’ve lost a wheel. Hell, it’s night.  How would
you see anything?”

 A police officer stepped out of the darkness. “Greg?”

 “Yes?”

 “I think we’ve got everything we need for our report.  Nothing else to add.  If there’s any follow-up, we have
your number.”

 “Okay. I’ll take off. Thanks.”

 The cop turned around and walked back to the ambulance.

 Riley stared at the car. “It’s funny the car veered to the left.  If it had gone right, it would have smashed into
the other four lanes of traffic.”

 Greg nodded.  “Traffic was light at that moment, but, yes, pure luck all around.  It’s amazing the wheel
bounced across the lanes without hitting another vehicle.  It could have been so much worse.”

                                                                                 ***

 Alison rounded the last curve of the on-ramp and checked her side mirror for traffic.  She accelerated and
signaled left.  She twisted to check her blind spot before moving into the lane and turning off the signal.  A
car passed on the left.  She again checked behind her before moving to the middle of the highway.

 There was a ring.  She leaned forward and pushed a button on the dash. “Hello?”

 “Alison?”

 “Yes?”

 “It’s Dad.”

 “Oh, hi.  I didn’t recognize your voice.  I’m in the car on Bluetooth.” Alison checked her speed and turned
on the cruise control.

 “Are you only now heading home?”

 “I have to pay my rent, Dad.” She eased her foot off the accelerator.

 “I think you can do more than pay your rent.  The way you tell it, your business is taking off.”

 “Accountants are in demand, but, admittedly, I’ve been lucky in finding a few corporate customers.  The
money’s better.”

 “I’m proud of you.  You’re your own woman.”

 “Thanks, Dad.  But it sure makes for long days.”  As a semitrailer passed on the left, she raised the
volume on her phone.  “So, what’s up?”

 “Are you coming over this weekend for dinner?  Mom’s making roast beef.”

 “Of course!  I don’t want to miss out on home cooking.”

 “I bet you’re not doing much cooking these days.”

 “My schedule is busy.  Besides, the deli next to the office serves good food, and it isn’t expensive.”

 “We’ve invited the O’Henry’s over.”

 Alison rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Dad...”

 “What?”

 “You know perfectly well what I’m talking about.”

 “All I want you to do is meet their son.  Richard’s a good guy.  And he’s a doctor.”

 “Listen, Dad; I’m trying to build my business.  I want to be financially independent.  This isn’t the right time
to get married and start a family.”

 “Whoa! I’m asking you to meet the guy. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

 Alison sighed. “Okay.”

 “Good.  But if you change your mind, I know a great spot for a honeymoon—”

 “Dad!”

 “Kidding.” The phone crackled, and there was a moment of silence.  “I thought I had lost you.”

 “Nope.  Still here.”

 “Funny reception.  Can you be here by five?”

 “Sure.”

 “See you Saturday.  Love you.”

 “Love you too, Dad.” She pressed the End Call button and settled back in her seat.  She rested her hand
on the console stick and tapped her foot on the accelerator.

                                                                                 ***

 At 9:25 p.m., the incorrectly torqued lug nuts of the back left wheel of a long-haul semitrailer vibrated
loose.  The wheel wobbled then slipped off its bolts.  It veered out of the lane into the emergency lane, hit a
small obstruction in the asphalt, and launched into the air.  The wheel arced over the median to the
opposite side of the highway.  The five-hundred-pound weight, traveling sixty miles per hour in one
direction, hit Alison’s car, going sixty-five miles per hour in the opposite direction.  It smashed into the
windshield and crushed the roof over the driver’s seat, killing Alison.  As her body spasmed, her left arm
dropped pulling the steering wheel to that side, her right hand pushed the console gear into neutral, and
her foot jammed the accelerator to the floor.

 The truck driver drove on for another hundred miles before pulling into a rest stop.  As a matter of routine,
he walked around the truck and discovered the missing wheel.  He contacted Dispatch.


                                                                                 END
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
About William Quincy Belle

William Quincy Belle is just a guy. Nobody famous;
nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically
add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for
inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his
contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing
process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down
on paper and likes to recite the following which so far
he hasn't been able to attribute to anyone: "A writer is
an egomaniac with low self-esteem." You will find Mr.
Belle's unbridled stream of consciousness here
(http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or @here
(https://twitter.com/wqbelle).