NEW YORK CITY
Forced to a crawling pace due to the
rubbernecking in front of him, Hunter took special pains to avoid looking at the crash site.
Keeping his eyes fixed on the Ford mini-van ahead of him, however, didn’t block out the stench
of burnt oil, the hiss of steaming radiators and sobbing victims, or the oppressive memories
that sent his heart rate slamming into overdrive.
The accident must have happened in the last
few minutes because, though sirens screamed in the distance, neither ambulance nor police were
on the scene.
Hunter’s memories carried him to another
time. He was nine years old, and Diana was screaming for help. They—the people who seemed to
know these things—said she couldn’t have screamed; she died instantly as did her aunt and uncle
in the front seat on either side of her. But he still woke up in a sweat hearing her screams.
Not so often anymore, but always when he least expected it.
Diana was a petite five-year old
with flaming red hair, a cute button nose, and ear-to-ear freckles. In two weeks, on
June first, she would have turned thirty. Because of him, Diana never reached her sixth
How many years had to pass before the guilt
gave you peace?
An hour later, home in his upscale Manhattan
apartment, Hunter picked up his mail, downed a glass of orange juice, and headed to his spare
bedroom to give himself a vigorous workout.
Ten minutes into his routine the phone rang.
Stifling his irritation, he dropped his weights, grabbed a towel, and headed for the nearest
phone. He answered it with a curt, “Yeah, Hunter here.”
“Hunter…Douglas?” The woman’s hesitant
question when she said his last name prepared him for a telemarketer.