He was lying on the ground in fetal position with his motorcycle smoking next to him, looking like it was about to explode. Dropping to my knees, I placed my hand on his arm, feeling the slippery texture of his leather jacket, he cried out in pain. I dialed 911. He came out of nowhere, past my car in a storm of thunder and lightning. He probably lost control. The school parking lot was vacant; the only form of life was the injured motorist and I. I had to intervene.
The ambulance arrived along with one police car where the officer asked me what happened and if I knew the motorist. Yes. I lied. He’s my friend. Jumping into the back of the ambulance with him lying on the bed with an oxygen mask suctioned to his face, I watched his motorcycle being towed away in the darkness. His scratched up helmet lay on the floor rolling around as the ambulance moved. It annoyed the paramedic and he half-yelled at me saying to pick it up and keep it still. It could roll on some important wires and disconnect another important thing or something like that. I got hold of his wallet they removed from his back pocket. I checked the ID. Darien. What a nice name. I forgot about how I’m going to return to my car.
In ten minutes, the bright signs of the Hospital’s Emergency came into view. I was happy to get out of there. The ambulance felt like a death elevator on wheels but with no happy-go-lucky music and foul smelling, although Darien’s scent started to fill the space near the end. The paramedics were saying he might have a broken arm and some internal bruising, but nothing serious. That didn’t seem possible from the sound he made when he met the pole. I would’ve guessed his insides were expanded in and out like an accordion and his body would end up being as fluid as a snake. But I’ve never been good at guessing.
His parents were waiting inside. His mother gasping and trembling as his father put his hands on her shoulders. They rolled him through a pair of floppy doors and that’s where my view of him ended. They probably wheeled him into a room full of important wires like the ambulance or somewhere else. I handed his riding helmet and wallet to his mother. She thanked me even though she looked at me like this was all my fault. His father told me to go home, it’s late. I’m not needed anymore. So I walked into the cafeteria where a lady behind the grill who looked like she hated her life served me some crusty and dry mac n cheese. And I sat there. Waiting for his parents to go away.
When they did, I walked over to his room. Darien was allowed visitors and since I was his “friend” they let me in without question, no matter how late it was. He was cleaned up, no mark of the accident on his face, but the cast around his left arm said otherwise. He eyed me as I walked across the Clorox smelling floors.
“Hey,” he said, his voice raspy, “thanks for getting me here.”
I stared at him for a couple of seconds. No expression on my face. Luckily he didn’t look creeped out. He just grinned. It was probably the drugs.
“You looked like the Flash. But instead of a red streak you were black.” I said.
He chuckled slightly, “Well that’s a cool comparison.”
“I hate motorcycles. They’re too loud and annoying and I feel like everyone who rides them is an asshole.” I blurted.
He chuckled again, “That could be true.”
“I’m Ella,” I remarked, holding my hand out towards his non-broken arm. He took it, “I’m Darien.”
I pulled up a chair and sat beside him. He needed rest, I knew that, but my mouth kept spitting out questions. He didn’t seem to mind though, answering everything I asked with a gentle tone and a hint of arrogance that took a lot for me to ignore. He went to the same community college I went to. Took the same anthropology class I was in; never noticed me. But I smiled, cause I never noticed him either. I sat in the front. I didn’t want my view to be a mob of bobbing heads, which was probably his view.
It was hard to believe I didn’t cause he radiated confidence. The statue of David come to life I might say. His lush brown hair swooped back reminding me of how the waves crash onto the shore. His eyes reflected the hundreds of girls he walks past, giving his infamous smirk and sultry look that made them follow willingly. He’s built tough. Got the shoulders of a bricklayer, thick arms, and a frame that could protect me from falling debris. He talked himself to sleep. So I followed, like everyone else.
The next morning, when the sun hit my face through the plexiglass looking window, Darien watched me wake and told me to go home, to rest, to clean myself up. I’m not needed anymore. As I got up from the tiny chair, rubbing my stiff neck, his voice caught me. Come back tonight, he said in a tone that came off as command rather than a question. So I did. I came back and we talked. He asked about my life. I told him what he asked. That I was an English major and that I understood Shakespeare better than rap songs. That I lived with a roommate who didn’t even notice I was gone the night before. That I went to college because that’s what everyone else was doing. He related to my last statement.
Every morning he’d ask me to return. I did. He knew I would. He looked at me with longing and desperation, with a mix of subtle sweetness that hooked me. I went to the nurse’s station one night when he drifted to sleep, and asked about any other visitors. No sweetie, you’re the only one, she said in a tone that made me want to feel sorry for him. Not even his parents returned. He couldn’t have been a loner. His phone kept buzzing the whole time I was there. Buzzing and buzzing and buzzing, sounding like a fly that’s loitering around your ear. Who was that person? Why aren’t they here? I tried to stop the train of contemplation from coming because those thoughts didn’t matter. I’m the one he chose to be with, and I chose to stay.
Each night he looked healthier. He began making jokes out of his situation and even joked about how huge the bill will be. I wouldn’t have joked about that. “C’mon Ella, lighten up,” saying my name like he’s known me for years. That’s when I couldn’t help but think that this persona he was showing me was an act. An act of keeping me by his bedside because who else would come. An act of interest so he wouldn’t have to go through this time alone. He was good at it. For a moment or two I believed him, or at least I wanted too. But along with the steps to recovery, he asked fewer questions about me, showing more of the person I feared he was.
You’d be out earlier if it weren’t for your bruised ribs, the doctor said. I was thankful for those bruised ribs. I walked alongside him and the nurse that was pushing his wheel chair to the hospital entrance where his parents were waiting in a tan Toyota that needed a wax. He arose from the wheelchair with a grunt that sounded like it came from a Kung Fu movie. “Well Ella,” he said, “thanks for keeping me company.” I felt his cold calloused hands wrap around my neck, pulling me forward. I inhaled the smell of hospital on him, and tasted the remnants of the sausage croissant and the tangy orange juice he had for breakfast. My arms wanted to wrap around his waist, like the one girl in the Rom-Com. But they sat still, stuck to my body. When he pulled away, a haughty smirk spread across his mouth, knowing what he had done.
“I’ll see you around.”
One night when I was stopped at a red light, I heard the sound of a thunderous motorcycle engine coming from my right side. Only inches away from the front of my car, he stopped, awaiting the change of the light. The scratches that tore the pain showing the underlying gray color of the bike glistened from the overhead streetlights. He kept looking at the stoplight above, almost seeming to forget the one across. As he was looking up above, his head slightly tilted in my direction, I thought he’d seen me. Look in my direction, look in my direction. When I thought he would turn my way, the light turned green and he sped ahead, ignoring the part of me that wished he’d crash.