The Flip Side

My life had briefly flashed before my eyes and I had been bored.  Now I was hanging upside down in my overturned car.  I’d hit a kerb at high speed and in a second of out of control hopelessness I’d flipped my car off road and down a bank.  A host of chattering ghosts whispered loudly in my ears, slowly, slowly quietening as my head became less numb.  Rational thoughts?  No one saw it.  Country roads, summer weekday mornings, I could be here a while.  Bits broken, I could tell, though I couldn’t  feel what.  There was blood dripping down off me though.  Though not much.  Where was my phone?  Jacket.  Try to reach inside, stopped with wincing.  Other, arm, jammed, under the steering wheel.  Not responding, either. 

The sun roof/ floor paradox, three inches below my head, was strewn with small-change, tissues, toothpicks, 3D glasses, a road atlas, CDs and smoking paraphernalia.  I’d picked the wrong moment to steer with my knees whilst striking a match.  The crooked cigarette was still in my mouth, cemented to my dry lips.  Knew they’d be the death of me. 

Out of the open windows the grass was flattened where the car had slid for a while and I could smell the sap of it now.  Some new cut.  I thought of a picnic I’d been on with my daughter the previous weekend.  Could do with a cheese and pickle sandwich right now.  Stupid time to be thinking about food, I thought.
From behind my head, ish, I heard a dry shuffle and something guttural turned into a quiet caw.  I forced my neck painfully around and came eye to eye with a big black crow. I recoiled at first, surprised, then got over it, stupid to worry about the wildlife under the circumstances.  It picked through the flotsam and jetsam of my most recent adventure, tapping the shiny CDs, and ripping bits of tissue, curious.  Only natural, I thought.  I said ‘Hello Crow’.  I could barely get words out and the effort hurt me.  It eyed me, calmly, but still hopped sideways back out of the car and onto the grass, checking around for threats, before coming back inside.  With some dexterity it picked up a match in its beak, angled it, put a claw on the box and struck the match, then held the flame in front of my face. 
I lit the cigarette.  Glad of it.  Snuffed the match out with a sore, wheezy puff.

The crow considered me, then picked out a cigarette from the accumulated crud.  It nimbly struck a match with its claw and lit the cigarette, breathed it in, then exhaled smoke through its almost invisible black nostrils.  An eyelid sideswiped a cornea.  It tossed the lit match down, backed out of the window, and flew off with a squawk.
CrookedMan CrookedMan
46-50
May 16, 2012