A Collision on Western Avenue

I met this girl at The Mutiny and we got shitfaced. I mean beyond balls-out fucking blitzed, downing shots of Jameson and sucking down those big-ass mugs of Old Style as tall as your face from chin to forehead. My ride took off. I’m not even sure how she got there. She said her name was Garbo and she was an actress. I told her I was a musician. But I was also just saying. Me and the guys had yet to play a show or really even practice much. The Routines, we called ourselves.   

Garbo and I were making out at the end of the bar when the lights went on for closing. I’m pretty sure she came there with her boyfriend. I think she may have mentioned that, but I may have missed it. He’d been her ride and left and now we were rubbing on each other underneath the bar when the lights flicked on and the respective barkeeps started hollering for all us to get the fuck out. The next thing I know we’re staggering on the sidewalk looking at cars zip past on Western while all the other motherfuckers cleared out of the bar too.

“Where will we go?” Garbo asked.

“My place ain’t far,” I said.

“We’re not getting a cab now,” she fretted.

“We can just walk. It’s really not that far.”

I was lying. It was at least a 45 minute walk to my little dump in Bucktown, but I figured it would give me a chance to sober up so I wouldn’t have a limp whisky dick when I got her out of her black skirt and tights. I shared the place with two of the other members of The Routine, some buds I grew up with in Minnesota. Garbo said she was from Michigan and lived in Logan Square with a girl who took care of the horses that took people for carriage rides downtown and who routinely cut herself on the arms. I wondered if she cut the horses, too.

I didn’t really want to go to her place, even though it sounded closer.

So we started staggering down Western past Fullerton and all the shitty storefronts that seemed to change daily out this way. Just another big suburban-looking strip with McDonald’s, and shit. Western was nearly dead this time of night. Garbo took hold of my hand. It was spring and we felt good. It dawned on me her real name might not be Garbo. There was an old-timey, dead actress by the name, I recalled in my stupor.

Just to make sure we were still game, we’d stop every block or so and make-out. I’d rub on her tits a little and she’d rub on my groin. Then we’d keep walking.

We were fiddling with each other on the corner at Armitage, about to cross over into Bucktown, in front of my favorite Mexican restaurant, when a little Honda came out of nowhere and smashed the fuck into the streetlamp. The sound was tremendous. Garbo and I unhooked and looked.

The little Honda had plowed into the pole. It’s engine was crumpled and smoking. There was some guy inside crying and yelling.

“What do we do?” I asked.

“We’ve got to help him.”

Garbo raced over to the car and opened the door before I could say anything. The driver was a middle-aged Mexican guy wearing a plain, no-logo baseball cap with no bend to the brim. He was slumped over the wheel and moaning. Blood seeped from his brown face. He was the only one in the car.

“I’m calling 911,” I said.

“No no no no no,” the man said, suddenly alert.

I put my cell phone at my side while Garbo unbuckled him from the seat. He was starting to breathe crazy and beat his chest.

“He’s having a heart attack,” she said. “I think.”

Then Garbo said something to him in Spanish.

“You speak Spanish?” I asked.

“Si,” she said. “A little.”

“Well, I’m calling 911.”

I pulled my phone out again, but again the Mexican man having a heart attack in the seat of the crash Honda said, “No no no no no no.”

He was waving his hands at me in a panic, all the while breathing erratically, his face turning purple.

“Why not!” I yelled. “You’re gonna die, bro!”

The man mumbled something in Spanish.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He says he doesn’t have insurance,” Garbo said.

The man kept talking.

“He says he’s got no insurance on the car or medical insurance. And it you call 911, his family will starve.”

“Well, what are we supposed to do then?” I asked.

Garbo asked him in Spanish. He started shooing us with his arms.

“He’s telling us to leave. To leave him alone,” she said.

“But we can’t.”

Garbo told him this in Spanish.

“He says to just leave. He will be fine. That he will be fine.”

“He’s having a heart attack in a car he just smashed into this light pole! How can we just leave?”

Just then we saw a police cruiser in the distance on Western. The lights were on. Then the sirens.

“I say we just go. We should just go,” she said.

The man managed a smile and wave as he heaved for air. We took off running down Armitage and stopped at the alley behind the restaurant to make sure the police stopped for the man.

“What should we do? Should we go and talk to the cops?” I asked.

“Let’s just keep walking,” Garbo said. “Keep walking.”