Illustrated by Joey To
“It’s out there again,” Steven Alderson said to himself.
Steven was looking out his picture window at the ambulance that was once again parked down the block from his house.
“It’s like they’re waiting for something to happen to me so they can come to the rescue.”
It was 7:00 on Wednesday morning. Steven had first noticed the ambulance on Monday morning when he had backed his SUV out of his driveway to start his morning commute. He’d seen it parked where it was now and then had noticed it was following him the first time he checked his rearview mirror. Whoever was driving it wasn’t being cagey like they do in the movies when someone is following someone else; they seemed content to follow him leaving just a car length between the two of them.
The ambulance’s windows were tinted a dark blue, which was odd, so Steven was unable to see who was driving or how many people were in the ambulance. On Monday and Tuesday they had followed him to work, parked near the back of the lot, and when he came out after work they had followed him home. On both Monday and Tuesday nights they had parked where they were now and had just sat there. Steven was pretty sure they had never moved.
Steven lived alone, he was divorced, and really couldn’t think of anyone to talk to about this. He supposed he could call the police, but what would he say? There was an ambulance following him? What if it wasn’t there when the police came? They’d think he was losing it.
This morning while looking at the paper, he saw something he thought might be worth a try. The 9th Street Bridge was out, as the city was going to put in a new four lane bridge to handle the commuter traffic coming into the downtown. Steven decided he’d engage his nemesis in a game of chicken at the bridge.
He took off like he had on Monday and Tuesday. The 9th Street route wasn’t his usual route, but it was only a few blocks out of his way. He checked his mirror a number of times and found the ambulance behind him like he was towing it with a chain. When he came to 9th Street, he turned onto it and headed for the bridge. Traffic was very light as most people were using alternate routes to get to work. Seeing that the ambulance was still on his butt, Steven accelerated and was doing about fifty when he came to the final block before the bridge. Work crews who had been standing around drinking coffee now ran out into the street and waved their arms above their heads in attempt to get Steven’s attention. Steven hit the BRIDGE OUT sign doing sixty and then slammed on his brakes about thirty feet from a fifty foot drop.
The ambulance, however, didn’t slam on its brakes and it rear ended Steven, pushing him and his car over the edge and into the river.
“It was like he tried to stop at the end, but the ambulance that was chasin’ ‘em pushed ‘em right off the edge,” Bill Nelson, the construction foreman told Officer Randy Giles. “I mean the car blew right through that two hundred pound BRIDGE OUT sign and both vehicles were doin’ fifty or sixty when they went past me and my crew.”
“I heard some of your crew talking about an ambulance,” said Officer Giles. “What’s that about? What ambulance?”
“When we first saw ‘em, the ambulance had its lights and siren on and was right on his ass. As I said, they went past us, we were waving and yelling, and then the ambulance pushed the car into the river.
“Where’s it now?”
“Me and a couple of guys went up to the ambulance to see what was goin’ on. It had blue tinted windows so we couldn’t see in…”
“Wait a minute,” said Officer Giles. “Ambulances don’t have tinted windows.”
“I’m tellin’ ya it gets weirder,” said Bill. “Since we couldn’t see in, Ronny Wilson, that’s him over there, knocked on the driver’s side window. Nothing. He waited a bit, shrugged, looked to me for the okay, and opened the door. It was empty. Nobody in the driver’s seat and nobody in the passenger’s seat. That’s when we called 911.”
“I asked you where it was now,” said Officer Giles.
“While we were huddled together talkin’ about what had happened, the ambulance all of a sudden-like does a y-turn in the street and takes off.”
“With nobody driving?” said Officer Giles, smirking at Bill.
“Hey, there’s more’n a dozen guys here that saw the whole thing; ask ‘em,” said Bill.
“We’ll be talking to everybody, I’m sure,” said Officer Giles. “We may be able to piece this together once we learn more about the victim.”
“Yeah, well, when you find out why an ambulance with blue tinted windows and nobody drivin’ it pushes some guy into the river, you be sure and let me know,” said Bill.
“Usually in cases like this, witnesses’ imaginations have run a little wild,” said Officer Giles.
“Yeah, well, me and my crew don’t have imaginations; we just build the stuff that people with imaginations tell us to build,” Bill said as he stalked off.
He’d only walked a few steps when he abruptly stopped. There was the wail of a siren in the distance. Bill knew it was an ambulance because it made that warbling sound every once in awhile. He had been walking over to where his men sat talking. He now changed direction and headed toward his pick-up. He got in and drove back to where Officer Giles was standing. He gave Giles a jaunty salute and drove off.
Officer Giles had also heard the siren. He found the idea of an ambulance coming here… uncomfortable. He decided it was past time to call for back-up.