Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chapter 3, Part 3: Last Box of Toothpicks

Apparently, Arif headed for school but forgot his last box of industrial strength toothpicks. You know, the ones that hold up the eyelids when they feel like they are made of lead. After he stopped for gas in Anderson, he struggled to keep his eyes open. The driver who followed him from Anderson to Goodman said that he had trouble keeping on track. It was obvious he was fighting falling asleep.

At 7:45, in Goodman entering the 60-mile-an-hour speed zone, Arif lost the battle and fell sound asleep. The truck driver, Steve, later related that he could see Arif's face as he approached heading the opposite way. There was no reaction. Steve knew that Arif was asleep at the wheel. It took a lot of prayer and all the concentration he could muster as Steve attempted to keep his load – 47000 pounds of steel pipe – in balance. With heroic effort, Steve kept an eye on Arif, the traffic behind Arif, and the traffic behind his own rig, earnestly praying that none of them would get hurt and that his load would not dump. Steve eased his truck onto the shoulder. Thank God there was more shoulder than often is the case in these parts. Steve’s prayers paid off, too – mostly. With all those eyes, the guardian angels on duty must have been cherubim because no one but Arif and the back of the truck were involved in the crash. Arif’s car hit the very back wheel of Steve’s trailer and bounced off. Joe later estimated that the impact was equivalent to traveling at 120 miles an hour.

Pete, a teacher residing in Goodman, spoke of hearing what sounded like an explosion. He ran from his house to see Arif's car spinning across the road, coming to rest on the right shoulder. Apparently, Arif's Toronado bounced off the back wheel of the trailer with enough force to bend the axle and pop the tire. Thank God he had just purchased the Toranado from some friends. He might have fared even worse had he been in the S10.

As his wife dashed back to the house to call 911, Pete walked to Arif's window to talk to him, and to keep anyone else away:

"What is your name?"

"Arif Marshall"

"How old are you?"


"What does your father do?"

"A ... tea ... cher....."

He could get no more response from Arif.

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