It happened just yesterday, and it happened in a split second: a man tried to kill us.
We were in Dallas, driving back from breakfast and thank God just my wife and I were in the car, the kids at their cousins' house. In the right lane of three, doing maybe 35mph. An SUV raced up next to us, pulled ahead by a couple of feet and I heard my wife say something, I don't recall what. I looked over at the driver, his face contorted with rage, screaming something at us. I couldn't hear, my window was up, but for two seconds he was yelling in fury.
And then he tried to kill us. His vehicle swerved into our lane and my first response was to swerve the same way, to ride the curb and avoid him. A flash of anger lasted a micro-second, one that wanted me to slam my car (slightly larger, but not much) into his, not to give way but instead I bumped over the curb and braked.
The side of his vehicle tore against ours, the impact and sound shocking, but not as shocking as the fact this was happening. I stopped our car but he kept going, not back into the road but on the same trajectory he'd launched himself at us, diagonally. His car rocketed up a slope and smashed through a row of shrubs, then cut the corner of an empty parking lot and kept going, on through another row of shrubs and trees, greenery and branches flying.
I was out of the car and running when I heard the crash, the front of his SUV ramming into a low brick building, someone's offices.
A guy named Brandon was running, too, a shaved-headed, tattooed young man who'd been hanging a sign in front of the furniture store across the street. He'd looked up after the man hit us, seen his car careen out of control into the building. A nice guy, he wanted to help.
I wanted to make sure the bastard didn't get away.
And he didn't. When Brandon and I got to him, his vehicle was burning. Smoke poured from behind the dash into the car and the man sat there, blood running down his face, stunned, motionless. We coaxed and pulled him out, "Come on, Bubba," Brandon kept saying, "your car's on fire, you have to get out. Come on, Bubba, let's go." Finally, slowly, looking confused, the man went with us, moved away from his car and sat on the curb. He never said one word.
Behind us, the sirens came. My wife had called 911 and in two minutes, less even, a cop was there, whether by lucky happenstance or by efficient response we never found out. The firemen and EMS showed up, too, and a second police car.
We gave brief statements, the Addison cops were old hands and knew how to keep victims of accidents, or crime, calm. (And weirdly, that's all I ever felt: calm. We were unhurt but a man had tried to run us off the road, and not then or later did I get jittery or shaky. Go figure.)
We wanted to know why, of course, my wife and I. The cops did, too. I wanted him charged with intoxication assault, maybe aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Hell, charge the sonofabitch with attempted murder, isn't that what he did?
Turns out, no. Did you read about the weird incident with the commerce secretary a week ago? He had a seizure, or two, while driving, and during them he hit the same car twice. It was investigated as a felony crime but it looks like it was a medical problem. Same thing with us, apparently. The EMS people arrived at that conclusion quickly, I guess they had access to his history, or maybe they were just magic. They told us he'd almost certainly had an epileptic fit, his non-responsive and catatonic demeanor as we pulled him from the car further evidence of it, maybe.
How messed up is that? A guy tried to kill us, I saw it in his face, the fury in his eyes, and he probably had no idea he was doing it. It's both scary and reassuring at the same time.
And just like in Hollywood, all's well that ends well. Our car is in better shape than we'd thought. The photo barely shows anything (trust me, the whole side is scraped up).
Makes me glad I helped get him out of that car, I guess. Hopefully he'll be fine, too. And maybe give up driving for a decade or so.